Now that the Senate has passed a welfare reform bill aimed at putting welfare families to work, the measure must still be reconciled with a similar House version - a task that may not be too easy.
Both pieces of legislation call for comprehensive education, training, and employment programs for people on welfare - very similar to a pilot project started this month in Davis County.The emphasis would be on helping welfare recipients become self-sufficient, instead of simply providing necessities of life. Included in the program would be child daycare, help in finding a job, and incentives to keep working.
Those goals are admirable. The only question is the cost. Some sacrifices would be worth making now if they succeed in getting people off welfare later. Whether the savings justify the expense is what the reform is supposed to show in the next five years.
Chief difference between the House and Senate bills is the price tag. The Senate bill would run to $2.8 billion over five years, while the House measure would cost an estimated $7 billion.
The Senate version would be preferable. First, it would allow the reform to be tried out on a slightly smaller scale to see how well it works. If the results show real promise, some adjustments upward could then be justified. Second, if the price tag is too high, President Reagan may veto the package.
The country badly needs welfare reform and a national policy aimed at getting people off the dole, not keeping them on. The existing welfare system simply isn't doing the job.
Let's start making changes, but carefully. And let's make sure the reform is achieving what it should before throwing $7 billion into the pot.