Gov. Walker’s reform lacks transparency


Dusty Hartl, Opinions Editor

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) announced a major welfare reform program last week. This program is a combination of what he says will be the best way to combat the abuse of welfare programs and older welfare reform programs from Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-Wisconsin) and other states.

The plan called ‘Wisconsin Works for Everyone’ is a combination of a variety of different state programs. Reid Wilson of the The Hill said, “Walker’s plan, “Wisconsin Works for Everyone,” would impose new work requirements on both able-bodied adults with school-age children who receive state food assistance and those who receive housing assistance. Both work plans, which would be tested on a pilot basis, would require recipients to be employed for at least 80 hours per month, or to be enrolled in job training programs. Those who do not meet work requirements would see part of their benefits cut.”

The program has been facing opposition, as many think the plan would kick out thousands of people and that the only people that should be required to work are childless able-bodied individuals.
This was leading to a concern about children if their parents did not comply with the program.

Walker’s office said, “any sanctions for non-compliance would affect only the adult’s portion of the benefit. Children would still receive their part of the FoodShare assistance…” This would ensure that children do not go to bed hungry because of a parent’s noncompliance.

There are many questions formulating around whether or not this plan is right for the state and whether or not this would hurt more than it would help. For every
question there seems to be an answer, but not a helpful one.

Walker visited the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater last week Monday and to the surprise of many, barely addressed the new plan. He has said “‘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 settle into public assistance.’”

He wants to help as many people as he can get off of public assistance. To do that, he is attempting to create a program that addresses getting former convicts jobs, protecting children, and getting people off the Foodshare program.

Walker has said, “What we’re talking about is really the foundation (Thompson) built back in the ‘90s with Wisconsin Works. This is now a giant step forward, going back to the future, restoring part of what was included in Wisconsin Works, or W-2. We want to help people get back in the workforce, not be settled into assistance.”

There are many doubts still looming in the minds of those who oppose this new program. They are asking how one can penalize adults, but not the children? What will he do to ensure employment to those who are getting taken off the programs?

These are all questions that have not been answered or have been given vague answers to. The goal of the program has been stated many times, but the plan to get there is one that is shrouded by doubt and inquiry.

If the governor wishes to pursue this endeavor, it is important that he become more transparent with his plan and iron out the real issues that people have with it. It has the potential to become the great plan that Tommy Thompson built that helped lay the foundation for former President Bill Clinton’s national plan.