A statewide survey finds strong opposition to changes to the W-2 program, proposed by Governor Jim Doyle and adopted by Democratic-budget writers. The survey was done for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute , a conservative-leaning group headed by George Lightbourn.
"The public sentiment that led to the reform of welfare that was the underlying concept of W-2, are still there," according to Lightbourn. More than 75 percent of those surveyed oppose a reduction in work requirements for those receiving W-2 benefits. There was also opposition to the elimination of sanctions against families where kids repeatedly skip school.
"We were surprised at the strength of the response," says Lightbourn. "People feel this way in every segment of the state. Democrats feel nearly as strongly about this as Republicans do. Women feel strongly about it, men feel strongly about it."
The changes, proposed by Doyle have been approved by the Joint Committee on Finance, which has spent the past several weeks grappling with the state's $6.5 billion budget deficit. "It not only flies in the face of public sentiment," Lightbourn says of the policy changes. "It has many of us scratching our heads as to why they did it, since it has no fiscal impact. It has nothing to do with the state budget."