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Tuesday - March 6, 2018 1:50 am

Still opposition as sweeping welfare reforms await Wisconsin Gov. Walker's signature

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Once they're signed into law, sweeping changes to welfare in Wisconsin could be a model for other states to follow.

Some analysts are looking at the reforms championed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a blueprint.

They're easy sells, some suggest, because of the notion of removing fraud from the system. Fraud claims that are overblown, says Alma Democratic state Senator Kathleen Vinehout.
Actual fraud in programs like FoodShare is actually only about 1 percent.

"Two-thirds of the people who get help with food share are seniors, disabled or children," she said. "Those are folks who can't work and, of the rest of the people, half of them are already working."

Vinehout is among those who insist the governor and other Republicans mischaracterize public benefit recipients as lazy and needing a little kick to get going — especially in proposals like the one that restricts the value of a car you can own to receive benefits.

"We heard this over and over again in the committee and on the floor debate," Vineout said. "We had Republican senators saying, 'We just want to make sure somebody's not driving a Lexus or BMW and getting Food Share,'"

The new limits for Foodshare assets would be $20,000 for a car. There would also be limits on home value to maintain eligibility.

Vineout also points out that where welfare reforms are needed is different than where one might think.

"First of all, we need to get our own house in order," she said. "We need to make sure these programs are run well before they're expanded, and we need to make sure the people getting the contracts aren't taking the money and not delivering the services."


Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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