Wisconsin Enacts Entitlement Reforms

Published May 16, 2018

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a series of bills reforming the state’s entitlement programs by establishing work requirements for welfare recipients, prohibiting individuals owning homes worth more than $321,000 from receiving food stamps or Medicaid, and other changes to build and encourage self-reliance among recipients.

Walker signed Special Session Assembly Bills 1 through 9, collectively known as the Wisconsin Works for Everyone package, on April 10.

‘Doing People a Service’

Gary MacDougal, coauthor of the “2015 Welfare Reform Report Card” by The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says tying work requirements to benefits is good for the recipients.

“You are doing people a service by requiring able-bodied adults to work in exchange for benefits,” MacDougal said. “This belief is supported by my experience and research and the experience of the 1996 welfare reform.”

Encouraging Success

The sponsor of the bills, Wisconsin state Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), says fighting poverty means helping people help themselves.

“If you really care about people, just throwing a check in the mailbox doesn’t help anyone up and out of poverty,” Kapenga said. “If you talk to people on welfare, most of them will tell you, ‘Yes, I would love to get a better job. I would love to make a lot more money.’ For the most part, people want to get out there and work.”

Kapenga says being dependent on the government has hurt people emotionally and spiritually.

“We believe that the current welfare system robbed people of their purpose,” Kapenga said. “Everyone is born with a purpose, everyone has a skill set they can use. The way we’ve been doing things incentivizes people to not work.”