Here’s a look at the 8 things you need to know today… Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is calling for a special session in order to pass serveral bills aimed at reforming welfare and other forms of public assistance. Increased work hour requirements. drug testing and treatment are at the center of these bills. News 8’s Mal Meyer was there as the governor made the announcement in La Crosse today and joins us now in studio with more of the details. The governor started off today’s press conference at Colgan Air by announcing that the unemployment rate in Wisconsin is at three percent. That also means there are a lot of job openings without many people to fill them. Governor Walker is hoping these bills get additional people back in the workforce and off of government assistance. Governor Scott Walker says the ten bills under the Wisconsin Works for Everyone welfare reform plan. are based on state wide listening sessions. People said ‘I want to help people but if people are able to work it shouldn’t be permanent dependency.’ The bills would make several changes to the FoodShare Employment and Training program. and public housing. Anyone participating in those programs would have to undergo drug testing. For some reason they test positive, we’re not kicking them off the program. We’re just making sure they enroll in drug treatment so they can become self sufficient. Under the proposed legislation, able bodied adults living in public housing, in the training program *or* recievng food stamps would have to work 30 hours a week instead of 20. We want to make sure we’ve tied that in with the help to get the job and get the skill sets and build those skill sets through experience. The republican legislators supporting these bills say that if people are not working, they need to be in training to do so. nat sot The plan also establishes asset restrictions for certain welfare programs. For example, a participant’s home value could not exceed $321,000. However, there would be certain exemptions. We want to make sure that people who have a lot of wealth in their assests aren’t taking away from the pot that is supposed to be available for the people who actually need it. Governor Walker says these bills are aimed at people who are able to go back to work but there would be some exceptions. such as for people with disabilities. We don’t write them off either. We just get them the help and assistance they need. Often times with an accomodation. Some of the other bills in the package would include the creation of a Medical Assistance Saving Account in the Medical Assistance Program. Another bill would create a pilot program where Earned Income Tax credit claimants would receive *monthly* parments rather than having to wait until after they have filed ther returns. Mal how are democratic leaders responding to the bills? Many democratic legislators have released statements saying this is an attack on families with children who are trying their best. One such legislator is State Senator Jennifer Shilling who represents La Crosse. Vernon. Crawfod and Monroe counties. TAKE SOT TAKE SOT D LA CROSSE I think one of the examples is with the drug testing of participants is it is expensive. We have seen in other states that have implemented it that they don’t recieve the savings that they have projected. Senator Shilling said that she would advocate for more job training for those who are recieiving asssistance. When asked if that meant she is in support of the bill that addressed this. she said that she would have
to look more at the particulars.