Governor Scott Walker made several stops across Wisconsin Wednesday to tout the almost 12,000 people FoodShare recipients who have found work thanks to a job training and employment requirement.
The provision, which requires able-bodied childless adults receiving food assistance benefits to work at least 20 hours a week or be enrolled in training programs for new employment, was part of the last Republican-backed state budget passed during the 2013-2015 biennium. Walker said the $60 million investment through the effort has made job training programs more consistent across the state, and improved coordination with local employers. He said that “results in more jobs, better work experience opportunities, and stronger communities.”
The program has also faced criticism though, in the wake of a report from the Department of Health Services that also shows about 41,000 people lost benefits in the first year the tougher work and training requirements were in effect. Several groups, including the Hunger Task Force, contend some of the groups the state is contracting with are doing an ineffective job, and have also asked the state to request federal waivers in areas where people are having a harder time finding work because of labor surpluses.
During a stop in Green Bay Wednesday, Walker fired back at critics, saying they don’t understand the program or are intentionally misrepresenting how it works. Walker noted that those who lose benefits have chosen not to participate for at least three months. “I think most people in this state, be they Democrat or Republican, would say there’s gotta be a line the sand that says we will help you out, but you gotta help us out.”
Affiliate WAYY contributed to this report