Foy 04 [Foy, Joseph. "Applying the New Federalism of1996: Governors and Welfare Reform" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois, Apr 15, 2004 2009-05-26: ]
Abstract: With the passage of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996, America experienced a reemergence of the “new federalist” policies that began during the presidency of Richard Nixon and blossomed under Ronald Regan. Defined primarily by its emphasis on “devolving” federal influence over social policies to the states, the new federalism of the mid-1990s gave state governments more freedom to decide how to manage and implement social programs while simultaneously increasing pressure on state officials to make those programs work. An obvious effect of this move to shift power away from the federal government to the state level was the pushing of states to the forefront of the debates surrounding social policies. Rather than continuing to sing backup to the federal government’s lead, the states now had a greater role in determining the course of some of the most long-standing controversies in modern-American political history. The devolution of authority from the federal government to the states not only opened a door for state governments to have a greater say in policy choices, it also offered a situation for analyzing all fifty states as they respond to the same policy mandate during the same period of time. This rare occurrence in which the American states were opened up as a laboratory for policy analysis on the same set of policy choices within the same time period offers a chance to see not only the impact federal policy has across the states, but it enables a look into the specific political activities of state governments in the quest to shape policy outcomes. The purpose of this paper is to examine what effect governmental institutions have on the outcomes of policy within the states. More specifically, I will seek to assess what impact – if any – state executive offices have on determining policy outcomes. By going beyond studies that only focus on demographic influences on welfare policy outcomes, I hope to fill a significant gap that exists in the literature surrounding welfare reform, and that is what occurs between the devolution of responsibility of welfare policy from the federal government and the outcomes that result. Likewise, although there have been studies examining different determinants of welfare policy across the states, these studies do not take into account the role state executives play in shaping outcomes.