--Governor George W. Bush
As President, Governor George W. Bush will commit himself and the nation to mobilizing the armies of compassion - charities and churches, communities and corporations, ministers and mentors-to save and change lives, as he has done in Texas. These groups are proving that real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.
That is why Governor Bush envisions a different role for government-a role based on the belief that government should turn first to faith-based organizations, charities, and community groups to help people in need. Resources should be devolved, not just to the states, but to the charities and neighborhood healers who need them most and should be available on a competitive basis to all organizations-including religious ones-that produce results. This is the next bold step of welfare reform.
To Eliminate Barriers to Faith-Based Action and to Encourage an Outpouring of Giving, Governor Bush will:
As President, Governor Bush Will Lead a Determined Attack on Need, Launching Incentives to:
America has never been more prosperous. But that prosperity is not shared by all. There is still too much poverty and despair amidst abundance. More than one out of six American families with children live with an income of $17,000 a year or less. There are roughly 14 million young people at risk or not reaching productive adulthood; more than two million children with a mother or father in prison; 520,000 children in foster care, more than one-fifth of whom are waiting to be adopted; and, in 1997, over one million babies were born to unwed mothers, 380,000 of whom were under the age of 20.
As President, Governor Bush will commit the country to rallying the armies of compassion nationwide, as he has done in Texas, to ensure no one is left behind as we enter the 21st century.
Governor Bush believes that real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. Thus, in seeking to help those in need, his administration will look first to faith-based organizations, charities, and community groups that have a track record of success. This is the next bold step in welfare reform.
Governor Bush believes we should support private and faith-based efforts first and foremost because they work. But we should also promote them because the challenges they face are often greater than the resources they possess. He recognizes local efforts lack scale, good intentions often lack resources, and volunteerism alone is not enough. That is why he is proposing a different role for government based on these principles:
As President, Governor Bush will follow these principles in mobilizing charities and churches, communities and corporations, ministers and mentors. He will dedicate about $8 billion in the first year of his presidency-or $38 billion over five years-to provide new tax incentives for giving, and to support charities and other private institutions.
Americans are a generous people. In 1998, charitable giving totaled $175 billion, an increase of nine percent over the previous year. However, when measured as a percent of gross domestic product, Americans give the same amount today (2.1 percent) as they did in 1971.
Thus, to stimulate additional charitable giving, as President, Governor Bush will propose initiatives to:
Expand the Federal Charitable Deduction: Under the current law, only people who itemize deductions are allowed to claim a tax deduction for their charitable donations. About 80 million people-70 percent of all filers-do not itemize. As President, Governor Bush will propose giving every taxpayer the ability to deduct his or her charitable donations. This change will generate billions of dollars annually in additional charitable contributions.
Promote a Charitable State Tax Credit: Governor Bush supports legislation that would provide a credit (of up to 50 percent of the first $500 for individuals and $1,000 for married couples) against state income or other taxes for contributions to charities addressing poverty and its impact. States would be able to designate the charities they want to target with the credit. States would also be permitted-at their option-to offset the costs of this credit by using money from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. This optional tax credit would give states additional flexibility in addressing human needs.
Permit Charitable Contributions from IRAs Without Penalty: Under current law, withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts are subject to income tax. This creates a disincentive for retirees to contribute some or all of their IRA funds to charity. Thus, Governor Bush supports legislation that would permit individuals over the age of 59 to to contribute IRA funds to charities without having to pay income tax on their gifts.
Extend the New Charitable State Tax Credit to Corporations: Governor Bush will allow corporations to participate in the new Charitable State Tax Credit. Under his proposal, corporations will be eligible for a tax credit of 50 percent of the first $1,000 donated to charities dedicated to fighting poverty. In a nation with over five million corporations, this tax credit should help stimulate new partnerships between corporate and social entrepreneurs.
Raise the Cap on Corporate Charitable Deductions: Under current law, a corporation can deduct charitable donations until their value exceeds 10 percent of the company's taxable income. As President, Governor Bush will propose legislation to raise this cap to 15 percent, encouraging firms to raise their giving to charities that address human needs.
Provide Liability Protection for Corporate In-Kind Donations: The 1996 Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects donors of foodstuffs to charities from liability, except in cases of gross negligence. The 1997 Volunteer Protection Act provided similar protection to individual volunteers. What is lacking is protection for corporate in-kind donations. Many charities, churches, and community groups need vehicles to transport the elderly, computers to educate children, and facilities to hold classes. To encourage such in-kind gifts, Governor Bush supports legislation limiting the civil liability of businesses that donate equipment, facilities, and vehicles to charitable organizations, except in cases of gross negligence.
Social scientists have documented the power of religion to protect families and change lives. Studies indicate that religious involvement reduces teen pregnancy, suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, delinquency, and crime. For example, over a decade's worth of "faith factor" research by Dr. David Larson of the National Institute for Healthcare Research and other scholars reveals that poor inner-city youth who attend church are only about half as likely to drop out of school, use drugs, or commit crimes as otherwise as otherwise comparable youth without religion in their lives.
Similarly, grassroots inner-city outreach ministries have been credited by numerous leading social scientists with playing a major role in helping at-risk youth to avoid violence, achieve literacy, and find jobs. In short, faith-based charities and community groups are proving every day that religion, in the words of UCLA's James Q. Wilson, "creates an opportunity for personal transformation."
In recognition of the growing success of faith-based charities, the 1996 welfare reform bill, which replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), contained a "charitable choice" provision. This provision allowed states to contract with religious organizations "on the same basis as any other non-governmental provider without impairing the religious character of such organizations." Despite this provision, the Administration continues to support regulations that hinder the ability of faith-based charities to provide needed services:
Governor Bush believes America must stop trying to eliminate poverty, crime, and addiction with one hand tied behind its back. Thus, he is committed to removing all remaining barriers to the participation of faith-based groups in government programs. As President, he will:
Expand "Charitable Choice:" Governor Bush is committed to making "Charitable Choice" explicitly applicable to all federal laws that authorize the government to use non-governmental entities to provide services to beneficiaries with federal dollars. Participation in faith-based programs should be truly voluntary. Faith-based organizations should be permitted to engage in inherently religious activities-as long as secular alternatives are also available, and those inherently religious activities are privately funded.
Eliminate Other Barriers to Faith-Based Action: Even if "Charitable Choice" is expanded across the board, barriers to the use of federal funds by faith-based groups will remain. Governor Bush believes a concerted effort to identify and remove all such barriers is needed. That is why he will:
- Establish an "Office of Faith-Based Action" in the Executive Office of the President: This office will identify barriers to faith-based action, serve as a national clearinghouse for information on effective faith-based groups, and assist faith-based organizations that need help with regard to federal action.
- Encourage the Establishment of State Offices of Faith-Based Action: Governor Bush will make federal matching funds available to encourage states to establish their own offices to facilitate faith-based action.
- Promote Alternative Licensing Regimes: As President, Governor Bush will promote alternative licensing regimes at the state and federal levels that recognize religious training as an alternative form of qualification.
New Incentives to encourage giving, combined with the elimination of barriers to charitable and faith-based action, form the essential foundation for attacking specific areas of need. The following are examples of just a few of the initiatives Governor Bush will launch as President-initiatives that illustrate a different and innovative approach to empowering the compassionate good work of private organizations and charities.
Children of Prisoners
The U.S. prison population has tripled in the past 15 years. On any given day there are 1.7 million people in prison. This has helped protect our communities from predators. But it has left an enormous problem: more than two million children who have a mother or a father-or both-in prison. Studies show that these children are six times more likely to be incarcerated than the average child.
As research by the University of Pennsylvania's John Dilulio and others has shown, too many of these children live in poverty and suffer from the lack of "loving, capable, responsible adults who can teach [them] right from wrong."
Governor Bush believes that these innocent victims of crime should have a special claim on our conscience and on our resources. Unfortunately, there are no federal funds specifically earmarked today for children of prisoners. Thus, as President, Governor Bush will:
Studies indicate after-school programs help reduce drug use, teen pregnancy and criminal behavior by providing supervised activities during the peak hours for juvenile crime. Unfortunately, some federal after-school programs tend to discourage the participation of faith-based groups and other community organizations. For example, under the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which is one of the largest federal sources of funding for after-school activities, only schools are eligible to compete for funds. The Clinton-Gore Administration has recently proposed opening just 10 percent of the program's funding to competitive bidding.
As President, Governor Bush will take a different approach and:
Thirty years of social policy have shown that often the most effective efforts have not been large, nationally-directed programs, but smaller, local initiatives. These initiatives are shaped by need, not by bureaucrats. Unfortunately, innovative practices tend to spread slowly because the social marketplace, unlike the commercial marketplace, has no "invisible hand" to promote good ideas, and few financing institutions to help take those ideas to scale.
Thus, to promote "best practices," as President, Governor Bush will:
Studies show religion is a powerful tool in helping individuals overcome drug and alcohol addiction. However, government regulations tend to view addiction as a disease and prohibit or discourage the licensing of non-medical, faith-based treatment programs.
Governor Bush addressed this problem in Texas by signing legislation exempting programs that do not provide medical treatment, such as Teen Challenge, a nationally-recognized faith-based drug treatment program, from state licensing requirements. Since then, 38 non-medical, faith-based treatment programs have been established under alternative licensing arrangements.
As President, Governor Bush will:
The power of religion to transform lives has been demonstrated in programs that address everything from drug addiction to domestic violence. This power is now being used harness change behind prison walls.
The State of Texas has permitted Prison Fellowship Ministries to take over a unit of the state prison in Sugar Land, Texas, and establish "InnerChange"-the nation's first, 24-hour-a-day, Bible and values-based pre-release program, aimed at helping inmates achieve spiritual and moral transformation. Prisoners voluntarily enroll in the program 12 to 18 months prior to release, and receive services for up to 12 months after release.
It is still too early to measure the effectiveness of the InnerChange program. However, there are some positive preliminary indications, and several states are considering implementing similar faith-based programs. To obtain more data on the effectiveness of these programs, Governor Bush will:
"Second Chance" Maternity Group Homes
In 1998, over 380,000 unwed mothers under the age of 20 gave birth in the United States. These mothers and their children face extraordinary odds in achieving success. Studies have shown that only about half of these mothers graduate from high school and 80 percent go on welfare. In addition, their daughters are more likely to have children out of wedlock themselves.
The 1996 welfare reform bill requires parents who are minors to live in an adult-supervised setting in order to receive welfare (TANF) funds. When a conventional adult-supervised setting is not available because of abuse of abandonment by the parent or guardian, federal law requires states to provide or assist in locating alternative living arrangements. Some states have turned to so-called "Second Chance" homes as the alternative. These homes provide young mothers with an opportunity to develp good parenting skills, finish school, and enter the workforce.
Unfortunately, many teenage mothers are placed in a virtually independent living environment because Second Chance homes are not easily available. Indeed, federal regulations currently do not allow federal funds to be used for the purchase of or construction of a facility.
Governor Bush believes that to break the cycle of children having children the federal government should:
There are now 540,000 children in foster care, some 50,000 of whom are legally free for adoption now. Countless more children outside the foster care system are waiting to be adopted into loving families. Although the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act did much to move these children to safe adoptive homes, more needs to be done. For example, the cost of adoption still remains a major issue when couples decide to adopt. These costs also may prevent loving, low-income families from considering adoption at all. Thus, to make adoption more affordable, Governor Bush will:
In May 1996, Governor Bush created the "Governor's Advisory Task Force on Faith-Based Community Service Groups" to identify obstacles to faith-based groups and recommend ways Texas can create an environment in which those groups can thrive. In December 1996, Governor Bush signed an executive order directing Texas welfare-related agencies to permit religious-based organizations to compete for state contracts to provide welfare services without sacrificing their distinct religious character.
In 1997 the Legislature approved, and Governor Bush signed, several new laws based on recommendations from the Governor's Faith-Based Task Force. These laws encouraged churches, synagogues, and other faith-based groups to offer substance abuse treatment, welfare-to-work services, health-care, crime-fighting programs, child care and other social services without jeopardizing their religious identity. The Legislature approved measures that:
During the recent legislative session, Governor Bush and state lawmakers continued efforts to help faith-based and charitable organizations deliver services to those in need. Legislative accomplishments included:
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 included a landmark provision now commonly referred to as "Charitable Choice." Charitable Choice applies when states partner with faith-based and community organizations to deliver welfare services. Governor Bush issued an executive order urging state agencies to use this provision aggressively. And soon a resource guide and series of workshops will be utilized in Texas to train faith-based organizations how to access grants and submit proposals to deliver social services.
Under Governor Bush's leadership, Texas leads the nation in implementing Charitable Choice. Besides the religious groups all across Texas offering government-funded child care to the children of welfare mothers, other examples include:
InnerChange is the boldest experiment in criminal rehabilitation ever attempted in America. It's the nation's first-ever, 24-hours-a-day, Bible and values-based prerelease program, aimed at helping inmates achieve spiritual and moral transformation. Housed at the Jester II unit in Sugar Land, Texas InnerChange is a 3-phase, volunteer-led program that begins 12-18 months before release and continues on for 6-12 months of post-release aftercare to successfully re-integrate inmates back into society. InnerChange is a collaborative effort between Prison Fellowship Ministries, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and Houston-area churches.
Texas Youth Commission Pilot Faith-Based Ministry
This year, the Texas Youth Commission began a pilot faith-based dormitory project at the Gainesville State School facility. It's a 12-month structured program for juvenile inmates and their families and uses a spiritually-based curriculum that complements TYC resocialization programs.
Restorative Justice Ministries Network
In response to the Governor's call for faith-based solutions to rehabilitate offenders, the Restorative Justice Ministries Network formed to provide released inmates, via Texas churches and Christian businesspeople, with the tools they need to succeed and reintegrate back into society.
"Second Chance" Teen Parent Program
Governor Bush and the Texas Legislature created "Second Chance" group homes for unwed teen welfare mothers-run by faith-based and other private groups-to offer them a place to raise their child in a loving, structured environment, get an education and receive job training. The pilot program received $3.3 million in state funding and will serve teen mothers in four Texas counties: Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Hidalgo. Buckner Children and Family Services, Baptist Children's Home Ministries, and Promise House, three prominent faith-based organizations, won state contracts to operate part of the program.