Then-State Senator Barack Obama’s Remarks On Welfare Reform

Then-State Senator Barack Obama’s Remarks On Welfare Reform

When the-State Senator Barack Obama wasn’t voting present in the Illinois state legislature, he occasionally spoke about the issues. : : Ali Akbar of Viral Read has obtained a transcript: with the former member of the 13th Illinois Senate District delivering his opinion on welfare reform:

60th Legislative Day May 31, 1997

First of all, what I’d like to do is just commend both Senator: Syverson, as well as the Governor’s Office, for entering into: good-faith negotiations on what is a huge bill that hasn’t: received too much attention. There hasn’t been too much political: heat around this issue. There hasn’t been too much rhetoric: around this issue. Nevertheless, this may be as important a bill: as we pass in this Session. It will affect a huge number of: people. I am not a defender of the status quo with respect to: welfare. Having said that, I probably would not have supported: the federal legislation, because I think it had some problems. But: I’m a strong believer in making lemonade out of lemons, and I: think that Senator Syverson and the Governor’s Office have done a: good job in working with this side of the aisle and the other: Chamber to come up with the framework that potentially ean succeed: in moving people from welfare to work. Now, having said that,: want to emphasize that I continue to have some concerns, and I: think that those concerns are going to have to be dealt with over: the coming months and the coming years as we evaluate how,: exactly, the program is functioning. Concern number one relates: to job training. There are a hundred and sixty thousand people who: are going to be moving off the rolls. And right now, in Illinois,: for entry level workers with relatively few skills, which is the: cohort that we’re going to be talking about here, there are not: enough jobs for the current number of people searching for jobs.

The only way that wedre going to be able to employ them in a way: that allows them a livable wage is if we upgrade their skills and: upgrade their training. And: unfortunately, we do not have yet a: firm commitment in terms of dollars and a sound framework in terms: of programs to make sure that these people are going to be: trained. Now: Senator Lauzen, as well as Senator Garcia, in the: Commerce and Industry Committee, have been working on this. I: applaud them for working on this, but we have to follow up in this: area to determine which programs are working, which programs are: not, making sure that we puk money into the programs that are: working, eliminate the programs that aren’t, so that we can: transition people effectively into high-skill, high-wage jobs.

That’s concern number one. Concern number two, who I know some of: my colleagues are qoing to be addressing in more detail: and I: think is absolutely critical is the issue of legal immigrants.: Everybody in this Chamber, at some point, comes from an immigrant: family. And I don’t like the notion that those people who are: here legally, contributing to our society, paying taxes, are not: subject to the same benefits, the same social safety net that the: rest of us are.

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