Click for audio Welfare Reform: Michigan Can Work Harder

After three decades and over $5 trillion, the federal government may have lost the war on poverty, but welfare reform at the state level is winning more and more of the battles.

In Michigan, more people than ever have broken out of the welfare quagmire to find meaningful work. Reforms such as "workfare"—which requires recipients of public benefits to find jobs—have cut welfare cases 49 percent since 1993, leaving fewer than 100,000 Michiganians still relying on public assistance.

Further reforms, such as those adopted in other states, could ensure that Michigan remains at the forefront of effective alternatives to government dependency. Eight counties in Florida, for example, foster self-reliance by limiting the length of time welfare recipients can collect benefits to 24 months in any 60-month period.

New Jersey does not increase benefits to recipients who have more children while on welfare, which encourages parents to earn a larger income to support a larger family.

Welfare reform has already helped thousands of Michiganians dependent on government to become productive and self-reliant, but successes in other states show that even more is possible to restore dignity and independence to every citizen.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.