Governor Scott Walker is proposing a series of changes to Wisconsin welfare programs.
Billed as “Wisconsin Works for Everyone,” Walker toured the state Monday to unveil the package of reforms he said are built on those pursued by the then-Governor Tommy Thompson in the 1990s. “It’s a full scale, comprehensive proposal, to reward work in the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said during a press conference in Milwaukee.
The full plan will be included in the budget proposal the governor releases next month. It calls for pilot programs expanding current work and job training requirements for able-bodied childless adults to also include parents of school-aged children. Walker’s office said the requirement would be largely consistent to what’s currently in place, where adults who are not working at least 80 hours a month must participate in a job training program and are looking for work at least five days a week.
“We believe our public assistance programs should ask able-bodied adults to take steps toward self-sufficiency through work, while also providing comprehensive tools to help them get and keep a job,” Walker said.
The governor also wants to seek a waiver from HUD to create a work requirement in the state’s housing voucher program, along with addressing income-based drop-offs in benefits included in child care assistance programs and the Medicaid Purchase Plan.
The proposal also includes new resources for worker training programs, creates new incentives for people to find work through tax credits, and seeks to reform the rules process surrounding occupational licensing changes. “We want to put people on the pathways towards success,” Walker said. “We know the best way for success is for people to be able to work, and so we want to break down the barriers for doing that.”
Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling criticized the proposal, accusing Walker in a statement of creating different sets of rules for the wealthy and working families. “Why should working families have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get help with rising childcare costs while 11 individuals making over $35 million a year are handed millions in tax breaks with no strings attached?”
“For too many hardworking Wisconsin families, Gov. Walker’s race-to-the-bottom economy is not working for them. Republican tax breaks that favor millionaires and corporations are shifting a greater burden onto workers,” she argued.