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Special session coming to reform welfare

Posted at 12:40 p.m. on January 18, 2018

The Brillion News

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker today (Thursday, January 18) called for a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature to pass Wisconsin Works for Everyone welfare reform legislation authored by Speaker Robin Vos, R – Rochester, and Senator Chris Kapenga, R – Delafield.

“With more people working in Wisconsin than ever before, we can’t afford to have anyone on the sidelines: we need everyone in the game,” said Governor Walker. “We want to remove barriers to work and make it easier to get a job, while making sure public assistance is available for those who truly need it. Wisconsin is going to lead the way on welfare reform.”

The Wisconsin Works for Everyone welfare reform plan comprehensively addresses welfare reform.

Several key initiatives include reforms to Wisconsin’s FoodShare system and the FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program, which provides hands-on job training and job search resources and has helped more than 24,000 FoodShare recipients learn an employable skill set and re-enter the workforce.

“Public assistance was never intended to be permanent,” said Speaker Vos. “By taking welfare reform to the next level, we can move more people into the workforce and not allow anyone to take advantage of the system.”

Proposed reforms to the FSET program under the Wisconsin Works for Everyone plan include requiring participation in the FSET program for able-bodied adults; an increase in the work requirement for FoodShare recipients from 20 hours per week to 30 hours per week; requiring FSET participants to pass a drug test and providing treatment for those who fail; implement photo ID for FoodShare participants; and incentivizing businesses participating in the program to encourage expanding their training offerings to serve more workers.

“We have an opportunity to help people fundamentally transform their lives with these bold reforms,” Senator Kapenga said. “By giving individuals the building blocks they need to be self-sufficient, we are setting them on a path to reach their true potential. Gainful employment helps workers build skills and increase their value–and in turn helps Wisconsin business who desperately need qualified employees.”

State agencies will also take administrative action to strengthen our process to more rigorously identify individuals receiving public benefits who may need substance abuse treatment in order to overcome their barriers to employment and move toward self-sufficiency.

Additional proposed reforms under the plan include opening health savings accounts for people receiving medical assistance; providing monthly advance payments for Earned Income Tax Credit recipients instead of the current system in which recipients wait for their tax return; requiring public assistance recipients to remain current on child support payments; and establishing asset limits for people receiving certain forms of public assistance. Several items in this welfare reform package would require federal approval or federal law change.

Additional information about the special session agenda will appear in the January 25 print edition of THE BRILLION NEWS



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