Governor Scott Walker wants to require Wisconsin residents who apply for some public benefits to undergo drug testing before they can receive them. The provision – described as a way to help move people from government dependence to independence – is contained in a workforce development plan released by the governor’s office on Thursday.
Some employers in high-demand fields, including manufacturing, require their employees be drug-free for safety and other reasons. To assist those looking to secure these positions, the budget includes a plan to require drug testing of those who are applying for or receiving benefits from programs, which may include unemployment insurance, FoodShare, Transform Milwaukee, transitional jobs, and others.
Those who fail the drug test will be offered the opportunity to participate in a drug treatment program, free of charge, as well as job training.
Other provisions in the plan, which will be part of the governor’s proposed 2015-17 budget, would reduce the time period for participants in the state’s Wisconsin Works program – which provides parents with minor children who live below 115 percent of the federal poverty level with assistance from a financial and employment planner – from 60 to 48 months.
The drug testing proposal, which Walker has been talking about since last year, is sure to be controversial, and has already been the subject of a protest in which specimen cups were distributed to the offices of Republican lawmakers in Madison.
Walker’s office released a summary of the investments in workforce readiness, and he promoted it during stops in DePere and Mosinee.