Proposal Would Require Child Support Compliance To Qualify For Food Stamps

State Required Compliance To Receive Food Stamps Until 2007

Laura Thorne (CC-BY-NC-ND)

People who owe child support would have to make their payments in order to receive food stamps under a proposal at the state Capitol.

The proposed legislation would deny FoodShare benefits to anyone who hasn‘t made child support payments for at least three months.

Wisconsin had a similar requirement on the books until 2007, when lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle removed it.

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Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R- New Berlin, one of the bill’s sponsors, said removing the requirement was a bad step for the state.

“The government should not be encouraging parents to run away from their responsibilities to support their children,” Sanfelippo said during a committee hearing on the bill Tuesday.

Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, the bill’s sponsor in the state Senate, argued the plan would “reduce poverty by promoting personal responsibility.”

Jim Sullivan, director of Milwaukee County’s Department of Child Support Services, said the bill “sends the wrong message” to a community his department is working to maintain a good relationship with.

“For men struggling to work, meet their responsibilities to be a father and do right, taking away FoodShare means less food in the home when their children are there, making parenting harder, not easier,” Sullivan said.

Opponents also argued enforcing the requirement would cost the state too much money. The state Department of Children and Families estimates the proposal would cost about $400,000 to implement, as state workers would need to build new technology to process and link child support and food stamp data.

The proposal has yet to receive a vote in committee.