Lawmakers in the state Assembly will be looking at ways to reform Wisconsin’s public assistance programs during the next session.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says the chamber will have a Public Benefits Reform Committee in the spring, which will focus preventing fraud in social safety net programs. Vos says “it’s really about figuring out a way to right-size our benefits so that we can afford them, but also to make sure that we have the integrity in place so that the public never questions the need to have those benefits.”
AUDIO: Speaker Robin Vos (1:08)
Among the likely proposals is a drug testing requirement for those on public assistance, which Governor Scott Walker and Republicans campaigned on this fall. Critics say the drug testing move is aimed at punishing those on public assistance and will not actually save the state any money. Vos argues it’s about making sure taxpayer dollars are being used as effectively as possible and that those receiving assistance are doing all they can to get back on their feet. Vos says those using drugs will have difficulty finding a job, which makes it likely they will be receiving public assistance longer.
The Speaker released a list of standing committees for the next session on Tuesday. Another new committee will focus on mental health issues. Appointments to the committees have not yet been announced.