wisconsin capitol

Scott Walker’s Record on Safety Net & Social Services

Scott Walker’s Political Career Has Been Marked by Efforts to Dismantle Safety Net Programs

Gov. Scott Walker’s political career has been marked by efforts to dismantle safety net programs or, if not dismantle, run them into the ground through mismanagement. In 2009, while Walker was Milwaukee County executive, the state intervened and took over the county’s public assistance programs due to years of mismanagement.

As Governor, Scott Walker has proposed overhauling the state’s programs that provide care to the disabled and elderly, drawing outrage from disability advocates and groups such as AARP. Walker has also reduced eligibility for unemployment compensation, imposed additional requirements on recipients of public aid, and has proposed drug testing for these recipients in his most recent budget.

Warped World View of Career Politician Gov. Scott Walker on Full Display

Gov. Scott Walker has offered an excuse perhaps even more incredible than the hypocrisy he displayed in pushing a drug testing scheme on Wisconsinites while, as head of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), accepting a major contribution from a marijuana industry trade group. According to Walker, a $25,000 campaign contribution isn’t big enough to buy his support.Madison - Gov. Scott Walker has offered an excuse perhaps even more incredible than the hypocrisy he displayed in pushing a drug testing scheme on Wisconsinites while, as head of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), accepting a major contribution from a marijuana industry trade group. According to Walker, a $25,000 campaign contribution isn’t big enough to buy his support.

[One Wisconsin Now, 07/21/2017]

Walker Defends Accepting Pro-Marijuana Organization’s Donation To...

But the liberal-leaning group One Wisconsin Now called Walker "hypocritical." Mike Browne, the group’s deputy director, questioned why Walker would accept a donation from the pro-pot group. "Scott Walker is head of the RGA and this happened on his watch. This is his responsibility and I would suggest that $25,000 is a significant financial contribution and is the sort of thing a politician would be aware of," he said. [Wisconsin Public Radio, 07/20/2017]

Walker Called ‘Hypocrite’ For Accepting Marijuana Money

One Wisconsin Now called out the donation as hypocritical, citing Walker’s continued push for more drug testing for public benefits recipients. “While Scott Walker wants to deny poor people food, health care and job training if they test positive for marijuana, he’s taking money from the marijuana trade industry,” said Scot Ross, director of One Wisconsin Now. [Door County Pulse, 07/20/2017]

Gov. Scott Walker on Drugs

Scott Walker has always been a politician willing to do or say anything to advance his own political ambitions. But newly uncovered information that Walker, as head of the Republican Governor’s Association, accepted a major contribution from a marijuana industry trade group this year at the same time he was lobbying for authority to require drug testing as a condition of receiving public assistance benefits reaches new heights of political hypocrisy.

[One Wisconsin Now, 07/18/2017]

Democrats flag Walker for ‘hypocrisy’ on drug testing issue

A charge of hypocrisy has been leveled by Wisconsin Democrats, over Governor Scott Walker‘s plans to drug test public assistance recipients. At a Capitol press conference on Tuesday, Scott Ross with liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now said the Republican Governors Association, currently chaired by Walker, accepted 25-thousand dollars from the National Cannabis Industry Association. [Wisconsin Radio Network, 07/18/2017]

Dems Blast Walker As ‘Hypocrite’ For Accepting Marijuana...

On Tuesday, liberal group One Wisconsin Now called out the donation hypocritical, citing Walker’s continued push for more drug testing for public benefits recipients. "While Scott Walker wants to deny poor people food, health care and job training if they test positive for marijuana, he's taking money from the marijuana trade industry," said Scot Ross, director of One Wisconsin Now. [Wisconsin Public Radio, 07/18/2017]

JFC Republicans to Help Gov. Scott Walker to Criminalize Poverty

With the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee set to pass Gov. Scott Walker’s scheme to force adults receiving food stamps to submit to government-forced urine tests, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statements. Ross pointed out that in his 24 years as an elected official, Walker has received over $2 million in salary, as well as health care for he and his entire family for decades, and since 2011 a mansion, security and numerous amenities and perks, all paid for by taxpayers.

[One Wisconsin Now, 05/23/2017]

Scott Walker proposes increasing tax credit for working poor with 1...

Jenni Dye, research director for the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, said there are other strategies for preventing premarital pregnancy that Walker has opposed, such as providing contraception and reproductive health services to low-income women. “Poverty will be solved through structural change that gives people opportunities to succeed, not through Gov. Walker preaching about their individual choices,” Dye said. [Wisconsin State Journal, 02/02/2017]

Financial impact still unclear for Scott Walker’s plan to drug...

"He wants a talking point for the Republican presidential primary and he believes targeting those in need is a political advantage for him," said Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now. Ross suggested Walker is moving forward with the plan because it tested well among conservative voters, calling it "an attack on the people being victimized by (Walker's) failed economic policies." "He's dropping this into the GOP Legislature's lap with zero regard for the huge cost to the taxpayers of Wisconsin," Ross said. [Chippewa Herald, 02/10/2015]

Walker proposes drug testing for public benefit recipients

“Some recipients of public benefits, including Medicaid, unemployment and food stamps, would be required to undergo drug testing, under budget proposal announced Thursday by Gov. Scott Walker. The governor rolled out his “workforce readiness plan” Thursday ahead of the scheduled unveiling of his 2015-17 state budget proposal on Feb. 3. The proposals announced Thursday are aimed at providing more workers for “high-need” fields such as manufacturing, Walker said. Drug testing could affect tens of thousands of Wisconsinites receiving benefits; those failing drug tests would be offered free drug treatment and job training, the governor said...Drug testing the unemployed would apply only for people “for whom suitable work is only available in certain occupations,” Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said. Information on which jobs or job seekers would be subject to drug testing was not immediately available. About 40,000 people currently receive unemployment benefits. The budget also will include language seeking permission from the federal government to test all “able-bodied” adults without dependents on FoodShare, as well as all childless adults on Medicaid. Some broad-based programs in other states that tested all recipients have been halted after courts found them unconstitutional.

[Wisconsin State Journal, 01/23/2015]

Gov. Walker Has It Completely Backwards

 After signing into law drastic funding cuts to an Alcohol and Other Drug Addiction (AODA) program targeting youths, Gov. Scott Walker is now proposing mandatory drug testing for Wisconsinites as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits or participating in the FoodShare program. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross denounced the shortsighted and hypocritical actions of Gov. Walker on the issue.

[One Wisconsin Now, 10/01/2014]

Walker talks up voter id, budget in visit to Lake Hallie

Gov. Scott Walker praised a court ruling that requires voter identification at polls and offered details regarding new state budget proposals Tuesday during his visit to Lake Hallie. “The bottom line is we want it to be easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Walker said in remarks to the media after a grand opening ceremony for Mid-State International Trucks of Wisconsin. Walker said the state has removed the cost barriers to getting an identification card. “We’d want (a drug test), at minimum, upon entry into the system,” Walker said Tuesday. “The best way we can help them out is make them able to be employed.” Walker’s plans also call for a requirement that able-bodied people without children be eligible for unemployment benefits for no more than four years. In addition, he said he will push for continuation of a higher education tuition freeze he hopes to expand to include the state’s technical colleges. [Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, 09/16/2014]

Walker claimed his “boldest” reform of 2013 budget was forcing food...

Walker went on to say, however, that the “biggest, boldest reform” in the budget was new work requirements for people on food stamps. Able-bodied adults must spend at least 20 hours a week working or getting trained for a job, or they will be limited to three months of benefits over three years. Walker described this as a kindness. “We say it’s time to get the training, and the access to training so that when a job becomes available, you are ready to get in the game,” he said.

[Associated Press, 07/01/2013]

Walker attempt to privatize food stamps and take over Medical...

Here's the challenge: The state cut funding to operate economic support services by 16.8 percent, while at the same time requiring counties to contribute the same amount to services that they did in 2009. In his budget repair bill, Gov. Scott Walker proposed taking all of those duties away from counties. Medical Assistance, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program -- formerly referred to as food stamps -- BadgerCare and subsidized childcare, consolidating them at the state level, and providing service through a call-center model. A private company, not state workers, would oversee programs. Gov. Scott Walker's administration estimated the proposal would save $48 million each year and eliminate 270 state positions. Previous efforts to run programs such as BadgerCare out of centralized offices didn't work. The Legislative Audit Bureau gave the state performance in operating BadgerCare a dismal review. So counties offered the state an alternative: Counties would continue to provide the services but they would form income maintenance consortiums. The lead county in each consortium would work with the state, and each county within the consortium would continue to provide face-to-face services for their residents. In addition, each county would provide a call center to answer questions and process change orders for all of the consortium's clients.

[Janesville Gazette, 12/31/2011]

Walker proposed kicking 29,000 kids and 34,000 adults off of BadgerCare

When Dennis Smith, Gov. Scott Walker's secretary of the state Department of Health Services (DHS), conducted a public outreach tour to explain how he wanted to cut $467 million from Medicaid programs, he didn't mention how many kids from low-income families would lose their health care coverage. Instead, Smith focused on "fairness," and asked that low-income families pay their "fair share" for their BadgerCare coverage. Smith didn't mention that 29,000 children—plus 34,000 adults—would likely lose their BadgerCare coverage if his "reforms" are implemented. Another 104,000 adults would be required to pay more toward their Medicaid coverage. Smith is asking the federal government for a waiver to implement his reform of Medicaid programs, something the Republican-led Legislature authorized him to do since it failed to fully fund the program in the state budget. If Smith doesn't receive the federal waiver by Dec. 31, the Legislature will allow him to drop more than 53,000 adult BadgerCare recipients from the program in July 2012. Although Smith's plan would reduce state spending by $90 million, it would also mean losing more than $135 million in federal funding for Medicaid, since the federal government pays about 60% of the Medicaid costs. In contrast, kicking 53,000 individuals from the program next year would result in a $60 million reduction in state spending and a loss of $90 million in federal money.

[Shepherd Express, 11/30/2011]

Walker administration looking to cut $444 million from Medicaid

“There will be thousands and thousands of people across Wisconsin to lose their health care coverage,” One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross says. Liberal group One Wisconsin now is blasting the cuts, which include $100 million from Family Care and $54 million from Badger Care Plus, which helps the uninsured pay for health care coverage. “Health care costs rise as people aren’t able to get affordable care when they need it most,” Ross says.

[MSNBC, 09/30/2011]

Federal government rejects Walker’s attempt to privatize food...

“Attempts by the new Republican administration to largely privatize the state's food assistance program have been all but stopped in their tracks. The controversial plan, first proposed by Gov. Scott Walker in March, would have replaced county-level sites where residents can simultaneously apply for FoodShare and medical assistance with a limited number of centers across the state staffed by private workers. The move would have cost roughly 270 public workers their jobs. "The state right now is not in compliance (with federal law)," said Alan Shannon, a spokesman with the USDA's regional office in Chicago. "It's that simple." Federal guidelines prohibit private, or vendor, staff from deciding an applicant's eligibility for food assistance. Under the guidelines, private workers can only perform non-discretionary tasks, such as scanning documents. On Thursday, Ollice Holden, the Midwest administrator for the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service in Chicago, sent a letter to Dennis Smith, secretary of the state Department of Health Services, telling him to correct the situation.”

[Capital Times, 08/17/2011]

Privatization attempt halted by federal gov’t

Attempts by the new Republican administration to largely privatize the state's food assistance program have been all but stopped in their tracks. The controversial plan, first proposed by Gov. Scott Walker in March, would have replaced county-level sites where residents can simultaneously apply for FoodShare and medical assistance with a limited number of centers across the state staffed by private workers. The move would have cost roughly 270 public workers their jobs…Turns out, USDA officials were never keen on private workers being involved in the administration of the federally funded food assistance program. The federal officials have been warning the state to change its course, or at a minimum refrain from hiring more private employees, since early 2010. ”The state right now is not in compliance (with federal law)," said Alan Shannon, a spokesman with the USDA's regional office in Chicago. "It's that simple."

[Capital Times, 08/16/2011]

Walker’s Failure Hikes Unemployment Rate; Senate GOP to Cut $56...

Wisconsin Senate Republican are expected today to cut $56 million yearly from benefits for newly-unemployed Wisconsin workers just as figures show Wisconsin’s unemployment rate under Gov. Scott Walker has jumped higher than most states in the past two months. This vote comes after it was revealed Gov. Walker spent $500,000 for private legal counsel to the firm where Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus is partner.

[One Wisconsin Now, 07/31/2011]

Walker Eliminated Foodshare Benefits for Qualified Legal Immigrants

Walker prohibited the Department of Health Services from providing FoodShare benefits to “qualified aliens,” except to the extent that federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits are required by federal government. This provision eliminated the state-option FoodShare program (SOFSP) that provides FoodShare benefits to certain legal immigrants who don’t meet citizenship standards for federally-funded benefits. Eligibility under prior law included non-disabled adults who have lived in the US for less than 5 years. Legal immigrants under 18, are disabled, or have lived in the US longer than 5 years, qualify for federal SNAP benefits. In 2010, SOFSP benefits totaled approximately $1.6 million. (2011 Assembly Bill 40, introduced 3/1/11; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call) [2011 WI Act 32, 06/26/2011]

Walker cut $500 million from Medical Assistance Programs

On June 26, 2011, Walker signed the budget, which contained his proposal to cut $500 million from Medical Assistance programs. The proposal does not exclude any specific groups from receiving the program cuts, which means seniors and people with disabilities, who account for 20% of total Medicaid enrollment and 67% of total Medicaid spending, will likely be impacted by the cuts. At the end of January 2011, nearly 300,000 seniors and people with disabilities were enrolled in Medicaid-related programs. (2011 Assembly Bill 40, introduced 3/1/11; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call) (Disability Rights Wisconsin Fact Sheet) In addition, the budget contained Walker’s proposal to cut FamilyCare spending by more than $284 million over the biennium and freeze enrollment (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/20/2011). FamilyCare helps around 35,000 seniors and disabled stay independent at home and in their communities. (Disability Rights Wisconsin Fact Sheet). [2011 WI Act 32, 06/26/2011]

Walker Created Waiting Period for Unemployment Insurance

Effective January 1, 2012, there will be a one-week waiting period before an unemployed worker can collect benefits. The inclusion of this change in the State Budget was made unilaterally by Republicans in the Legislature. Despite a veto request by all labor and management representatives on the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, Governor Walker signed this into law. For decades, the Advisory Council has made changes to UI benefits through a balanced, negotiated agreement involving employers and labor. The Department of Workforce Development estimates that workers will lose $41 million to $56 million in benefits due to the waiting period, depending on the unemployment rate. (2011 Assembly Bill 40, introduced 3/1/11; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call) [2011 WI Act 32, 06/26/2011]

Walker proposed changes to W-2 in an effort to shrink the caseload at a...

“With the number of poor clients in the state's welfare-to-work program surging, a series of changes by Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislators would toughen the program guidelines and reverse revisions approved under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. The Walker changes also could help shrink the Wisconsin Works caseload, now approaching 15,000 families, with nearly 70% from Milwaukee County. That's the highest in more than a dozen years and more than double the number of clients W-2 had just two years ago. To critics, the changes could return the state to a time several years ago when caseloads plunged but complaints rose that potential clients were being unfairly dissuaded from applying for W-2. To Walker and backers of the changes, the latest moves would restore better accountability to the program and more clearly serve notice that W-2 is meant only as a temporary way station. Among changes included by Walker in his 2011-'13 state budget: Reinstatement of stricter time limits for participation; restrictions on time W-2 clients could spend in classrooms; making it easier to impose penalties on clients for program infractions; and cutting the top monthly cash payment by $20, to $653 a month. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 06/02/2011]

Walker Proposed Substantial Cuts to Bus Routes for Disabled Riders

“A cut in state funding could lead to large areas of Milwaukee County becoming inaccessible to disabled transit riders, under a provision in County Executive Scott Walker's 2010 budget...Slicing Transit Plus to the minimum level would eliminate service to nearly all of Franklin, Hales Corners and Oak Creek, as well as to parts of Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Glendale, Greendale, Greenfield, River Hills, St. Francis, South Milwaukee, West Allis and Milwaukee's far northwest and far south sides, said Autumn Misko, who handles transit advocacy at Independence First, a disability rights group. ‘For a lot of Transit Plus users, Transit Plus is their only transportation option,’ Misko said. ‘Lots of clinics, nursing homes and group homes in those areas would lose service.’ Also, some riders who live in those areas would be unable to move into the newly reduced service area because they couldn't get out of their leases, Misko said. Arlene Conley, a disabled Milwaukee rider who serves on the county's Transit Plus Advisory Council, said, ‘It would be a disaster if that happened.’” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/19/2009]

Funds That Could Have Gone to Fraud Prevention Went Unused in Milwaukee...

“Milwaukee County under spent its budget for running the Wisconsin Shares child-care program by more than $4.3 million since 2004 -- money that could have gone toward greater fraud prevention, state officials said. The county was authorized to spend $8 million or more annually to run the program, under contracts with the state that included oversight of participants and child-care providers. The county, however, passed up the chance to use $1.4 million in 2004 and high six-figure sums nearly every year since then. In 2006, the county didn't use $376,000 of its child-care oversight money -- the smallest sum the county left on the table through 2008, state figures show. The county also is on track to leave unspent another $600,000 of its child-care administration funds this year. Counties are not allowed to roll over the money they don't spend on the program in any given year.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/01/2009]

Walker’s Proposed Cuts for Social Service Programs Called ‘Very...

“Cuts proposed for social programs in 2010 stunned and angered Milwaukee County supervisors Wednesday, who said the county's poorest and most vulnerable residents would bear the brunt. The county's Health and Human Services budget request would eliminate $1 million for homeless shelters, $2.4 million for elderly and disabled programs, $721,000 from programs for delinquents and nearly $300,000 from a burial program for low-income families...Such cuts, while Walker insists on a property tax levy freeze, demonstrate the ‘irresponsibility of a no tax-levy increase pledge,’ said Supervisor Theo Lipscomb.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 07/16/2009]

State Took Over County of Role of Administering Public Assistance...

“The state's unprecedented move Tuesday to strip Milwaukee County of its role in administering food aid, child care and medical assistance programs was prompted by years of county mismanagement, state Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake said. The takeover requires installing state managers but retaining county case workers, a ‘hybrid model’ she said had never been tried before. Timberlake said that will require a law change that's likely to win legislative support. She said the new setup was the best way to fix the problems quickly.” The state memo noted: “The county's poor performance in the programs includes answering only 5% of the hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the county's public assistance call center every month; The county fails to process 30% of its benefit applications within the required seven days, with some families waiting weeks or months for food or health care; In 2007, 60% of county decisions to deny food or health care benefits were overturned within two months. That resulted in benefit delays and forced families to go through time-consuming appeals or a second round of applications; and, The county's high food assistance error rate means nearly one in five deserving applicants were cut off from the program in fiscal 2008.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/04/2009]

Walker Proposed Budget Which Cut Needle Exchange Program, Said AIDS...

“Plans by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to cut $230,000 for AIDS prevention from the budget next yer were blasted Sunday at the 13th annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin….In Milwaukee County, county money is not directly used to buy needles, but the money does pay for staffing an AIDS prevention program that, in turn, provides the clean needles. The program began in 2000. In announcing the proposed cut last week, Walker said he did not like the idea of using ‘tax dollars to support illegal activity.’ In an interview Sunday, Walker said he did not consider AIDS prevention ‘a core function of the county. It probably would be better addressed by the city or the state health department.’

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 09/30/2002]