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UPDATE: Ryan proposes consolidation of anti-poverty programs

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News) - U.S. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled his new anti-poverty plan Thursday, saying it would give states more flexibility to help people support themselves.

The Janesville Republican explained the details of his "Opportunity Grant" plan in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

Ryan told the Washington think tank he wants to merge up to 11 anti-poverty programs into a single block grant to the states -- combining food stamps, home heating aid, housing subsidies, cash welfare, and more.

Ryan said states could choose to participate. They would each set up at least two service providers to work with local community groups which know their local needs best.

Ryan has spent the last year meeting with low-income Americans and the agencies which help them. He said current anti-poverty programs are too fragmented and formula based, and his new effort would allow more collaboration within communities.

Monitors would judge the programs' effectiveness, and those falling short would lose their right to participate.

Unlike his past budget reforms, Ryan says he's trying to push things that both parties can support -- including Democratic ideas to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, and reducing prison populations by granting more sentencing discretion for non-violent offenders.

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