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Abstract

To test whether the block grant approach currently under consideration in Congress actually achieves the goal of providing states with the flexibility necessary to effect meaningful policy changes, this Essay contrasts the way two different reform proposals would be treated in the current legal and regulatory environment to the way they would likely fare under the proposed legislation. One proposal used in this analysis is a comprehensive welfare reform program, self-described as "progressive," that was developed by a community-based, grass roots coalition in New Jersey. The New Jersey reform proposal aims to improve outcomes for recipients, rather than simply to cut costs. The other proposal is a hypothetical cost-saving program that simply limits welfare receipt to one year. Part II of this Essay describes the New Jersey reform proposal. Part III contrasts the proposal's potential for adoption within the existing federal legal framework2 with the potential adoption of a one-year time limit proposal. Part IV considers the probable legal status of the two proposals under the restricted block grant legislation now under consideration in Congress. This Essay concludes that the proposed federal changes will complicate any implementation of expansive, recipient-oriented state-level reforms. Restrictive changes, by contrast, will be easier to accomplish.

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