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Walker Teams Up With Tommy Thompson To Promote Welfare Overhaul

Report: Bills Estimate To Cost More Than $90M Per Year

Wisconsin State Capitol Reflection
Ann Althouse (CC BY-NC)

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson joined Gov. Scott Walker on a tour of Wisconsin to promote a package of welfare overhaul bills that may come up for a legislative committee vote next week. The tour came as word emerged about the estimated cost of the legislation.

Walker and Thompson, both Republicans, planned to visit Milwaukee, Green Bay and La Crosse on Friday to tout the 10 welfare bills, which, among other things, would increase work requirements from 20 to 30 hours for able-bodied adults on food stamp and require drug testing for people who want to live in public housing.

The Assembly Public Benefit Reform Committee slowed work on the package Thursday after a public hearing Wednesday where several critics voiced concerns over the bill. On Thursday, the chairman of the committee said some adjustments need to be made to the bills.

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The bills are estimated to cost more than $90 million per year, The Associated Press reported Friday afternoon.

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, left, and Gov. Scott Walker, right, greet workers at a Milwaukee job training center Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

At a job center in Milwaukee earlier Friday, Walker said the state is making an investment.

“We think it’s worthwhile to invest in helping making sure not only people get the training and support they need, but that we make sure the resources we do provide for assistance go to people who are truly in need.”

Walker said the changes lawmakers want to make are “technical.”

Thompson said Walker is “rejuvenating” the welfare overhaul Thompson led two decades ago.

“Because he believes, like I do, if we can set up a program from the state of Wisconsin that’s going to help individuals get trained, and then be able to match them up with good jobs, that’s what life is all about,” Thompson emphasized.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin claims the bills are not coming from a desire to make people’s lives better. Party spokeswoman Melanie Conklin said Walker rushed out the package as an election ploy to appeal to a conservative base after the GOP recently lost a state Senate race in western Wisconsin.

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