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Walker calling for parents to complete job training for food stamps

Gov. Scott Walker called for a special legislative session Thursday to overhaul the state's welfare system.

Many of the proposed changes would increase the requirements to participate in Wisconsin's FoodShare program, commonly referred to as food stamps.

Able-bodied adults currently need to complete 20 hours a week to receive food stamps. Walker wants that increased to 30 hours.

"We've asked for work requirements before," Walker said. "Now going up to 30 hours and making sure it applies to public assistance all across the state."

Walker also wants to add parents with school age children to the list of those who need to work for food stamps. Sherrie Tussler with hunger task force says the term "work" is misleading.

"You earn your food stamps, you don't earn a wage," Tussler said. "So what it creates is an entire class of people who have to work for free in order to get the average monthly benefit, which is about $150."

The new rules would also require recipients to pass a drug test and call for food stamp cards to have photo ID. Tussler says that would create problems.

"That food stamp card is issued for an entire household," Tussler said. "And so short of a family photo, I don't know how we're going to get this accomplished."

Walker says the state "can't afford to have people on the sidelines," and says he wants to make it easier for able bodied adults to get jobs.

"It's critical when we know that our employers have not just jobs, but careers ready for people to support themselves and their families all across the state," Walker said.

Several of Walker's proposed changes are not currently allowed under federal law. Some have already been in the works at the statehouse. It will be up to the Republican leadership at the Capitol to decide when the special session will take place.

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