Welfare Time Bomb?

Federal reform has states edgy about hiked costs and lost innovation

For two years, Minnesota has been at the forefront of welfare reform, experimenting with a pilot program that has shifted 36% of aid recipients in eight counties into work. But now, officials are rushing back to the drawing board. A new federal law will require every state to place half its welfare population in jobs by 2002--a timetable few officials feel they can meet without huge sacrifices. "This will become more difficult than putting a square peg in a round hole," worries John Petraborg, Minnesota's Acting Commissioner of Human Services.

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