Scott Walker’s Record on Safety Net & Social Services
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, he 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.
“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.
Step 1: Cut Funding for AODA Programs. Step 2: Impose Mandatory Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits
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.
Walker claimed his “boldest” reform of 2013 budget was forcing food stamp recipients to attend work training
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.
Walker attempt to privatize food stamps and take over Medical Assistance from counties blocked; counties form consortiums to meet demand while dealing with 16.8% budget cut
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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."
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.
Walker proposed changes to W-2 in an effort to shrink the caseload at a time when the number of clients in need was ‘surging’
On May 11, 2011, Walker signed into law reckless health care cutbacks that would allow the state to cut up to 70,000 from Wisconsin health care programs, and could result in deep reductions in benefits for children and seniors. (January 2011 Special Session Assembly Bill 11; Assembly Roll Call; Senate Roll Call)
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Walker Proposed Budget Which Cut Needle Exchange Program, Said AIDS Prevention Not a ‘Core Function of the County’
“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.’