Governor Scott Walker is standing by a controversial program that has kept thousands of people from continuing to receive FoodShare benefits through the state.
A report by the Wisconsin State Journal found more than 15,000 people lost assistance from the program, during the first three months after a rule took effect in April which requires childless adults to actively seek employment. Those that decline to participate are limited to three months of benefits in a 36 month period.
Speaking in Green Bay Monday, Walker said the rule change is intended to help able-bodied individuals get off of assistance by finding work, with help from the state in the form of job training programs. “We want people to be prepared to help themselves,” Walker said. “If someone is an adult, who is able to work and they don’t have children, we ask that they be enrolled in one of our job training programs and they go out with our assistance and look for work.”
The governor said many thousands of people have gotten work because of that assistance, while others have been unwilling to participate. “I think the people of this state expect that if you’re an adult who is able to work…if you don’t take our help, then we’re not going to help you.”
AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker says help is available for those looking for work (:21)
The policy change has drawn criticism from food banks, who say it just puts a greater strain on their resources. State Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) has also asked the state to consider waiving the requirement in Milwaukee County, where he says just seven percent of those enrolled in job training programs have been able to find work – while about half had their FoodShare benefits revoked. Barnes argued the Walker administration should “do the humane thing and request a waiver from these time limits as soon as possible.”
Affiliate WHBY contributed to this report.