Gov. Walker Unveils Welfare Reform Plan

Last week, Gov. Scott Walker unveiled Wisconsin Works for Everyone, a new welfare reform plan that will be included in his 2017-2019 budget. Joined by former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, Walker said he would expand reforms Thompson started in his term in the 1990s.

The plan consists of nine parts and is intended to incentivize able-bodied adults to take steps toward self-sufficiency.

A piece of this reform expands work requirements in the Foodshare program.  To qualify for Foodshare, working-age able-bodied adults with school-age children must participate in job-training if they do not work more than 80 hours a month.  This will align with the requirement that already applies to adults without dependent children.

Walker’s reform creates a phase out of childcare subsidies for certain families by establishing incremental copayments for these families to pay until their copayments are equal to the cost of care. Walker’s hope is to alleviate the “benefit cliff” that occurs when a family reaches income levels of 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL).

The plan also changes the Medicaid Purchase Plan (MAPP) work requirement for disabled adults. MAPP allows individuals with disabilities who want to work to buy Medicaid coverage even if their incomes are above normal limits.  The plan changes the premium structure to remove being cut from the program once someone earns 150% FPL.  Participants will also be required to show proof of paid employment, substantial in-kind work, or participation in pre-employment programming to qualify.

Other components of Walker’s proposal includes a working requirement for adults on housing assistance, drug testing of those receiving welfare benefits and an income tax credit for young people leaving foster care, individuals with disabilities and individuals who pay child support.

The welfare plan expands on Walker’s “working and winning in Wisconsin” theme developed in his State of the State address to expand Wisconsin’s workforce throughout his upcoming term. More details of the plan are expected in Walker’s budget, due February 8.