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Gov. Walker Introduces New Welfare Reform Package

Keeping promises he made in his state of the state address, Governor Scott Walker is announcing changes to Wisconsin’s welfare reform policies.

Monday morning, Walker was joined by senators Alberta darling and Duey Strobel for the introduction of the package in Milwaukee.

The initiative is essentially an extension of former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson’s W-2 initiative from back in the 1990’s.

The governor says the goal is to increase the work force, and keep unemployment rates down. The unemployment rate it currently at 4% in the state, a number Governor Walker said was the lowest in state history.

The proposal is expected to increase investments in jobs and skill training for those who are unemployed or lack certain skills.

It will also address barriers such as eliminating the benefits cliff in child care subsidies, and tie into housing development and help those with disabilities wanting to work find jobs.

Overall the governor called his plan a “pathway towards success."

“We fundamentally believe that public assistance should be a trampoline, not a hammock. By that I mean we want to help people get back into the workforce, not be settled into assistance. Not just because it’s good for taxpayers, not just because it’s good for employers, who I have mentioned have been overwhelmingly asking for our help to get more people into the workforce, most importantly it’s good for the person,” said Walker.

Gov. Walker did not say how much the initiative will cost in the budget.

The governor is also making stops in Green Bay, Eau Clare, and Madison at the state capitol where he will be joined by former governor Thompson.

Democratic Senator Jennifer Schilling was quick to criticize. She issued the following statement:

After years of Republican policies that have cut family wages, shrunk the middle class and increased student loan debt, Gov. Walker is proposing more restrictions on working families in need of assistance. His latest proposal creates new rules and regulations for workers struggling to make ends meet while adding additional layers of state bureaucracy. In response, Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) released the following statement:
“Once again, Gov. Walker is creating one set of rules for working families and another set of rules for the wealthy and well-connected. 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. Since Gov. Walker took office in 2011, Wisconsin has fallen below the national average for job creation for 20 consecutive quarters. If Gov. Walker really wants to help workers and grow our middle class, Democrats stand ready with a range of proposals to raise family wages, lower student loan debt, invest in infrastructure and expand child care tax credits. It's time we reward hard work, not the wealthy and well-connected.”

Milwaukee lawmaker LaTonya Johnson also issued a statement:

“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.”

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