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July 28, 1997

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National Governors' Association Address


Today, President Clinton traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, to address the 1997 National Governors' Association Annual Meeting. The President's remarks focused on the partnership between the states and the federal government and highlighted the two elements both parties must work on together to keep America on the right track -- we must continue to move forward on welfare reform and make sure our children have the world's best education.

Largest Drop In Welfare Rolls In History: Beginning with President Clinton's granting of waivers to 43 states, through his continued commitment to welfare reform evidenced in his signing of the 1996 welfare law, the states and the federal government are accomplishing welfare reform together. Now there are 3 million fewer people on welfare than when the President took office -- 1.2 million fewer since the President signed the welfare law.

Improving the Welfare Law: When the President signed the welfare bill into law, he made a commitment to work to fix certain aspects of the law that did not help move people from welfare to work. Now, working to achieve a balanced budget agreement, the President has received commitments to restore the worst cuts in aid to legal immigrants and to restore $1.5 billion for food stamps.

Creating an Active Partnership: While the welfare law gives states the responsibility as well as the flexibility to make welfare reform succeed, today President Clinton said he will remain an active partner in assuring that the law achieves its purpose -- moving people from welfare to work.

State Strategies Are Making a Difference: In his speech today, President Clinton pointed out that state strategies in these four key areas make a real difference in whether welfare reform will succeed: jobs, child care, transportation, and child support. The President gave examples of some of the creative strategies that states are using, as well as some areas of concern. As the President noted, it is critical that states use the savings that come from declining caseloads to reinvest in their welfare reform efforts, rather than diverting those funds to other uses.

President Clinton issued a challenge today that all must do their part if welfare reform is to succeed -- welfare recipients, businesses, the religious community, civic and non-profit organizations, state legislatures, local officials, and governors.

Leading the Charge for Voluntary National Education Standards: On education, the President noted that governors have been the leaders in educational reform for more than a decade, but he urged more states to join his effort to adopt national standards and by 1999 to test every 4th grader in reading and every 8th grader in math to make sure these standards are met.

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