MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Scott
Walker released plans for welfare reform with increased work
Walkerıs proposal would also
require adults with children between age 6 and 18 to attend
job training and search for work five days a week. It was part
of a package of welfare reforms called "Wisconsin Works
for Everyone" that Walker released during a series of
news conferences across the state.
Under current state law, only
childless adults in the FoodShare program have to meet the
work requirement. They lose all food stamp benefits after
three months of non-compliance. Benefits would be cut, but not
eliminated, for families that could be affected by the new
proposal. Details on how much benefits could be reduced, and
how long parents would have to comply, will come in the
governorıs budget released next month.
Walker is also calling for a
similar work requirement for people receiving housing vouchers
from the federal government.
Democrats and child advocates
said the change it was counterproductive and would hurt more
families than it would help. But Republican legislative
leaders and the state chamber of commerce praised the idea as
giving incentives to put more people back to work.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who
appeared with Walker in Madison and championed welfare reform
in the 1990s, urged Democrats to get behind the effort like
many did to his reforms 20 years ago.
"This could be a
bipartisan opportunity to continue to change Wisconsin's face
for the better," Thompson said. Republican state Senators
Chris Kapenga of Delafield and Duey Stroebel of Cedarburg
praised Walkerıs proposal. "Governor Thompson's welfare
reform in the 1990ıs was revolutionary because
it identified employment as the primary vehicle to move out of
poverty," said Kapenga. "I applaud Governor Walker
for introducing a plan that builds on these reforms,
recognizing that family, gainful employment, and education are
the keys to self-sufficiency." "Our goal is to
transition the government from the role of provider to
connector, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to realize
their full potential and improve their lives."
"Government assistance is a safety net for those who need
it. The governor's proposal seeks to reconnect those out of
the workforce with employment through needed reforms,"
said Stroebel. "These ideas make it easier to climb the
economic ladder. I look forward to continuing to work with the
governor and my legislative
colleagues on a path to ensure those most in need receive the
education, training, and jobs they need to succeed in
Democratic Senate Minority
Leader Jen Shilling said the proposal makes it hard for poor
families to get benefits while the state hands out millions of
dollars in tax breaks to wealthy corporations "with no
Walkerıs proposals could
require law changes by Congress and waivers from President
Donald Trumpıs administration before taking effect. They
would also have to pass the Republican-controlled state
Walker has said he hopes to
work closely with the Trump administration on various
initiatives, including welfare reform. Walker is expected to
seek a third term in 2018 and will be spelling out his
priorities for the next two years in the state budget he
releases in February.
The new work requirement would
start as a pilot program in several counties, Walker said.