State Assembly Approves Welfare Overhaul Package

The Assembly signed off on a package of special session welfare bills to set new requirements for various government assistance programs including food stamps. All but two of the bills passed on 62-35 party-line votes.

Initial combined cost estimates of the bills from the Department of Health Services and Department of Children and Families showed the legislation would collectively cost more than $90 million annually — excluding one-time start-up costs. But an updated overall figure isn’t yet available following the adoption of a series of amendments with the bills.

The package includes:

*SSAB 1, which would up the work requirement for FoodShare to 30 hours from the current requirement of 20 hours.

*SSAB 2, which would require expand work requirements for food stamps that now apply only to able-bodied adults to those have school-aged dependents.

*SSAB 3, which would create asset limits for food stamps, W-2 or Wisconsin Shares.

*SSAB 4, which would add drug screening to the application process for those seeking public housing.

*SSAB 5, which would create a two-year pilot program to make monthly payments to those who received the Earned Income Tax Credit rather than waiting until after they’ve filed their tax returns to send them a lump sum.

*SSAB 6, which would require DHS and DCF to create performance-based payment systems for W-2 and food stamps vendors.

*SSAB 7, which would allow DOA to contract with a private vendor to create a “pay for success trust fund.” Those with a proposal to address an issue with social, employment or correctional services provided to individuals could bring it to the state and then negotiate an incentive based on the expected budget savings. That money would be set aside and the state would only pay the vendor if the goal was achieved.

*SSAB 8, which would cut off from Medicaid those able-bodied adults who refuse to cooperate with a paternity test or comply with a child support order.

*SSAB 9, which would create a savings account program for Medicaid.

*SSAB 10, which would add photo IDs to food stamp cards.

The bills now head to the Senate.