By Tim Kowols
Governor Scott Walker hopes his new initiative will bring Wisconsinites back to the workforce. Introduced at several locations across the state Monday, the “Wisconsin Works For Everyone” welfare reform proposal includes items designed to expand work and job training requirements to adults with children on public assistance and help grow programs designed to get recently released prisoners back to work. Sandy Duckett from We Are Hope, Inc. says it is a good start but other factors need to be considered as to why an individual may not be able to hold down a job.
The welfare reform proposal would also give tax credits to people disabled or aging out of foster care while working and low-income parents fulfilling their child support orders. You can read some of the positive and negative reaction to Monday’s announcement online with this story.
RESPONSES FROM LEGISLATORS (Atributed to TheWheelerReport.com)
Rep. Joel Kitchens
“Yesterday Governor Walker announced his “Wisconsin Works for Everyone” reform package. Building on our past successes, as well as those of the Thompson administration, this is the next step towards welfare reform in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has been a national leader on this issue and I am happy to continue to make it a priority.
“Breaking down workplace barriers and incentivizing employment is a crucial step towards helping our unemployed. Additionally, providing workplace training is critical in breaking the cycle of generational poverty and reducing dependency on government.
“Earlier this month I attended a press conference where it was announced that Wisconsin has been awarded $2 million through the New Skills for Youth Grant. This grant, will build on the “Wisconsin Works for Everyone” in order to train employees for skilled, family-supporting jobs.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to address Wisconsin’s workplace needs and further reform our welfare system to benefit all.”
Sen. Robert Cowles:
“As I talk to people throughout my district, at job fairs or at the Green Bay Job Center, one of the biggest impediments to transitioning from public assistance to self-sustainability is not work ethic or education, but the disruption that comes when you no longer qualify for public assistance benefits during a financially sensitive time in one’s life. When you are just starting to get on your feet financially and you abruptly lose food benefits, child care, healthcare or even possibly your home, it’s very challenging to continue that positive momentum. Implementing some quality reforms to lighten this drastic shift, known as a “benefit cliff”, can alleviate some of the challenges for those on public assistance,” said Senator Cowles (R-Green Bay). The package, as outlined, will focus on reducing the benefit cliffs of several public assistance programs. Additionally, “Wisconsin Works for Everyone” will initiate efforts for individuals already working to stay working and increase employee retention, workforce reentry, reduce employment disincentives, and continue to work with individuals with disabilities to get a job and earn money within the Medicaid Purchase Plan (MAPP). “While I still would like to see the fiscal analysis of the various programs that are being proposed, this is certainly a laudable effort that I hope will have a positive impact on the lives of Wisconsinites. Reducing the barriers to employment is the next step in the mission to get more Wisconsinites working and create an environment for jobs and employment. I look forward to working with the Governor and my legislative colleagues on a balanced reform package,” Cowles continued.
Sen. LaTonya Johnson:
“We must treat people with dignity and respect and provide them with real opportunities if we actually want to improve crisis-level poverty in Wisconsin communities and across our nation. Unfortunately, past attempts alleging to reform welfare have a history of using whatever has existed as a safety net to trap Wisconsin families in a perpetual cycle of poverty. “I believe it is morally unfair and unjust to threaten reduced access to food and shelter for low-income families with children. While Gov. Walker and his allies are giving hand-outs to the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of Wisconsin families in need, I will fight to build an infrastructure in Wisconsin that paves the way for our youth and families to thrive and succeed.”
Rep. Lisa Subeck:
“Republicans have spent the last six years driving down wages in Wisconsin. Poverty has reached a crisis level in too many of our communities, including parts of Madison. Instead of addressing the problem of poverty level wages the Governor is threatening to limit access to food and shelter for low income families with children. While Governor Walker and Republicans in the legislature set their sights on scoring political points at the expense of our most vulnerable neighbors, I will fight for family supporting jobs and policies that make it easier, not harder, for Wisconsin families to get ahead.”