Welfare Reform Reform

Around the time Human Resources Administration commissioner Verna Eggleston was making a cameo appearance at Mike’s campaign launch, her agency quietly made a major — and ideologically-charged — policy shift.

City Limits reports that in January, the city changed its workfare rules to allow all welfare recipients to count one year of full-time education as “work” and still receive benefits. (This option had already been available to parents; the new rule makes it available to single people without kids.)

The decision is striking because Mike had earlier fought a similar change. Advocates were outraged when the Mayor vetoed, then successfully beat in court, the Council’s Access to Training and Education bill (CATE). Manhattan Institute critics hated the bill, which they saw as a return to the bad old days of endless, useless, “job training” programs, and saw the Mayor’s veto as a key piece of continuity with Giuliani-era welfare policy.

Now, says a lawyer who backed the legislation, City Hall has “implemented by policy large swathes of what would have been granted by CATE…It doesn’t include 4-year college [like CATE], but…it’s an enormous step forward.”

Mike seems to be trying to keep this step away from Rudy under wraps. Today, we got a press release about a minor increase in Staten Island Ferry service — but we don’t recall ever seeing an announcement of this major shift in a key area of social policy.