It appears as though the elephant in the room has been located.
For years, hard working and taxpaying residents have questioned just exactly how much the burden is regarding welfare costs. It turns out, that burden is tremendous.
Last week, the Chautauqua County Legislature approved a resolution to authorize the Department of Social Services to develop an action plan to increase welfare workers, which currently trails the state average by nearly 25 percent.
"Obviously these rates are a great concern to me," said Legislator John Runkle, R-Stockton, one of the legislation's co-sponsors. "They are well below the state average; we're hoping to rectify that."
Our state average for welfare to work is 34 percent. In Chautauqua County, as of December 2011, the welfare to work number was teetering around 10 percent.
Getting more welfare recipients to work - and off a plan that was never meant to be a lifestyle for many - could save county taxpayers millions of dollars.
For its part, the Department of Social Services says things are getting better. Christine Schuyler, county department commissioner, says the January numbers indicate an uptick to approximately 13 percent.
"We're already seeing those numbers go up," she said.
Those numbers, however, need to increase more. Erie County's welfare to work participation, as an example, was 41 percent in December 2011.
Maybe welfare to work figures are why Medicaid is not such a big deal - or such an excuse when dealing with budget matters - for our neighbors to the north.