When welfare reform passed in 1996, Ohio -- like virtually every other state in the union -- saw rolls plummet. The huge washout was attributed to the new work requirements in the law, suggesting that there definitely was something to the conservative argument that plenty of welfare recipients were ready and able to work. Today, it's taken on faith that the system was, indeed, carrying thousands of free riders.
Then last year Ohio -- for the first time in 18 years -- started to see rolls climb, a function most likely of the effects of the Great Recession. The reversal got the attention of Republican Senate President Keith Faber, who late in the 2014 session added a provision to the state budget that would give welfare caseworkers bonuses for moving clients from welfare to work. Under the Faber plan, five counties will be chosen to participate (currently it's not clear how they will be selected).