On Tuesday, President Donald Trump and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) separately initiated important welfare reforms. The reforms address different welfare systems but have the same goals: promoting a culture of work and self-sufficiency among welfare recipients and restoring government back to its proper role.
Trump’s executive order aims to reform the bloated, multi-billion-dollar national welfare system, which has strayed far beyond its initial mission to assist the most vulnerable and help them become self-sufficient. Trump believes current welfare programs, which President Barack Obama vastly expanded, breed government dependence, contribute to family breakdown, and perpetuate the poverty cycle.
Trump’s executive order outlines several “Principles of Economic Mobility,” including: (1) adding work requirements for welfare eligibility and strengthening existing ones; (2) streamlining services and consolidating duplicative programs to reduce bureaucracy; and (3) encouraging private enterprise and local solutions to combat poverty.
The executive order states the federal government should invest in workforce development programs and grant to state and local governments more flexibility in how they design and implement welfare programs. It also instructs officials across government departments to review all welfare regulations to ensure they align with the principles in the executive order and to recommended regulatory changes, if needed.
In Wisconsin, Walker signed nine welfare reform bills into law. These bills constitute the Wisconsin Works for Everyone reform package, which Walker has been promoting over the past year. The Wisconsin reform measures will: (1) extend work or job training requirements to able-bodied adults with school-aged children; (2) request a waiver from the federal government to create a health savings account for Medicaid beneficiaries; and (3) establish asset restrictions for recipients of food stamps and child care subsidies.
In 2015, Wisconsin was given an “A” grade in Heartland’s Welfare Reform Report Card. In January 2018, John Nothdurft, director of government relations, testified in support of the reform bills in a Wisconsin joint committee hearing.
As welfare rolls in the Badger State decrease, Wisconsinites can expect stronger economic growth, a lower unemployment level, and the availability of additional state funds that could be used to address pressing needs, such as infrastructure redevelopment and education.
To learn more about free-market, pro-liberty solutions, read The Heartland Institute’s Ten State Solutions to Emerging Issues. This concise booklet provides several solutions to state lawmakers interested in fixing their welfare programs, which have become a colossal strain on the limited budgets of most states. Solutions include work requirements, consolidating redundant agencies, eliminating fraud and abuse, and applying for 1115 demonstration waivers to give states flexibility in administering Medicaid.
What We’re Working On
Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program Saves Taxpayer Dollars, Increases Per-Pupil Funding
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes about a new fiscal analysis of Nevada’s tax-credit scholarship program by the Nevada Policy Research Institute. The program saves $1.14 in state education funding in fiscal year 2018 for every dollar in Modified Business Tax revenue lost from scholarship contributions. The savings accrued from the expansion of the program to 25,000 students, just 5 percent of statewide public school enrollment, would be the equivalent of adding $116 million in education funding.
Energy & Environment
New England Imported Natural Gas from Russia This Winter
In this article for Environment & Climate News, Joe Barnett, a program development consultant with the Beacon Hill Institute, writes that during the recent severe winter in the Northeastern United States, utilities had to import natural gas from Russia to heat homes and keep electricity running. New England utilities purchased Russian gas instead of cheaper, domestically produced natural gas because state governments in the Northeast have blocked various efforts to expand natural gas pipelines in the region. Additionally, perverse federal rules, primarily the Jones Act, make transporting domestic commodities and energy unnecessarily difficult and expensive.
Pennsylvania Considers Lowering Restrictions on Telemedicine
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a Pennsylvania proposal that would dramatically expand telemedicine services. The bill would increase access to health care by clearly defining “telemedicine” and initiating reimbursement parity. “Telemedicine has the potential to provide routine health care services to more people at a lower cost than traditional in-person delivery. Unfortunately, unnecessary and burdensome government regulations continue to stifle access to telemedicine services for many Americans. Telemedicine reform efforts in states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont are a positive move toward making telemedicine more widely available,” wrote Glans.
Budget & Tax
Gov. Murphy’s Tax Hikes Would Create Large Burden for New Jersey’s Economy
In this Research & Commentary, Glans examines a series of proposed tax hikes in New Jersey that would negatively impact the state’s already floundering economy. “Instead of increasing taxes on higher earners and entrepreneurs and relying on sin taxes, New Jersey’s elected officials should focus on making the state a more attractive place for businesses and workers, a goal that would best be accomplished by restraining spending, lowering tax rates, and reducing unnecessary regulations,” wrote Glans.
From Our Free-Market Friends
Buckeye Institute Identifies Tax Loopholes that Should Be Closed
A new report shows the Ohio tax code contains nearly $2 billion in loopholes, according to researchers at The Buckeye Institute. To circumvent these tax gimmicks, the researchers recommend closing 20 loopholes that annually equate to $1.8 billion in lost revenue and simultaneously reducing the state’s tax rate. Some of the more ludicrous loopholes include a tax credit for political campaign contributions, a credit for those who buy shares of corporate jets, and the motion picture tax credit. The researchers contend tax loopholes add complexity to Ohio’s Gordian knot tax code and favor elites and politically connected groups—all at the expense of ordinary taxpayers.
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