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Ohio may have to pay millions in penalties b/c too few welfare recipients are working

Ohio may have to pay millions in penalties to the federal government because not enough people on welfare are working at a job or trying to get one. The state has been fined for the last three years because less than a quarter of Ohio’s welfare recipients are working, are volunteering as preparation for work or are in job training programs.

The federal government requires half of recipients be enrolled in work participation.

Ben Johnson at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says his agency is confident the situation can be corrected.  

 "We are already developing a plan to bring the work participation rate up to fifty-percent, and we began that process before heard from the federal government about our claim of reasonable costs."  He says, "By October 1st, we will implement a plan that will be our required corrective action plan.  It will solve the problem."

Johnson says the state is now entering what’s called corrective compliance.

"Corrective compliance means we now have to meet the work participation rate in federal fiscal year 2012."  He adds, "If we meet it we won't have to pay the penalty, if we do not meet it, we will have to pay the penalty."

The state appealed the three years of fines, blaming the bad economy for the lack of work participation by welfare recipients. The federal government has denied the appeal for the first year of penalties, and has yet to decide on the penalties for the other two years.

The first year of penalties comes to almost 33 million dollars – the total penalties could be as high as 275 million dollars.