Senator Kapenga's E-Update
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Wisconsin Works For Everyone: Welfare Reform Special Session
Today, Governor Scott Walker called for a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature to pass Wisconsin Works for Everyone welfare reform legislation authored by myself and Speaker Robin Vos. The Wisconsin Works for Everyone welfare reform plan comprehensively reforms welfare.

We have an opportunity to help people fundamentally transform their lives with these bold reforms. By giving individuals the building blocks they need to be self-sufficient, we are setting them on a path to reach their true potential. Gainful employment helps workers build skills and increase their value--and in turn helps Wisconsin business who desperately need qualified employees. 

Several key initiatives include reforms to Wisconsin’s FoodShare system and the FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program, which provides hands-on job training and job search resources and has helped more than 24,000 FoodShare recipients learn an employable skill set and reenter the workforce. State agencies will also take administrative action to strengthen our process to more rigorously identify individuals receiving public benefits who may need substance abuse treatment in order to overcome barriers to employment and move toward self-sufficiency.

Additional proposed reforms under the plan include opening health savings accounts for people receiving medical assistance; providing monthly advance payments for Earned Income Tax Credit recipients instead of the current system in which recipients wait for their tax return; requiring public assistance recipients to remain current on child support payments; and establishing asset limits for people receiving certain forms of public assistance. Several items in this welfare reform package would require federal approval or federal law change.

This package builds off of successful Wisconsin Works reform by expanding access to work and providing  building blocks to gainful employment.  Helping individuals find meaningful work will improve outcomes for recipients of public assistance and tackle the state’s workforce development needs.

For additional information, check out the press release linked here
Inside the Proposal
Authorize the Department of Administration (DOA) to contract with a private service provider for payments to provide social, employment, or correctional services to individuals and create a “pay for success trust fund,” the balance of which may not exceed $20,000,000 at any time. DOA must determine that the contract is expected to result in significant performance improvements or significant budgetary savings for the state or a local government if the contract objectives are achieved.  Contracts will be subject to approval by the Joint Committee on Finance and must meet payment, procedure, and schedule requirements.  The following agencies, Health Services, Corrections, Children and Families, and Workforce Development, must conduct a study of their programs to identify whether and how the kind of contracting provided for under the bill could be utilized as an alternative to current funding model.
Earned Income Tax Credit Partial Payment Pilot Program
If agreed to by the IRS, establish a two-year pilot program whereby 100 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) claimants will receive monthly payments throughout the year rather than requiring these recipients to wait until after they have filed their returns to benefit from the EITC program.  For the pilot participants, this will better align work with the receipt of EITC benefits and seek to improve their financial stability.  Advance payments to pilot participants will be limited to 2/3rds of their likely annual credit eligibility.  The Department of Revenue will also compare pilot participants to a group of 100 claimants not receiving the advance payments to determine the success of the program.  For tax years after the two-year pilot, this advance payment program may be made permanent and apply to all eligible EITC claimants if agreed to by the IRS.
Pay-for-Performance Measures for W-2 and FoodShare Vendor Contracts
Requires DHS and DCF to implement performance-based payment systems for W-2 and FSET contracts. This is a new requirement for FSET and would apply for the next round of contracts under W-2, which currently include some level of performance-based payments.
Move Work Requirements from 20 Hours to 30 Hours
The bill allows DHS to set the required hours of participation in FSET to coincide with the maximum allowed by the federal government for both able-bodied adults with and without dependent children.  Currently, 20 hours is required for able-bodied adults without dependents.  It is currently allowable to require 30 hours for able-bodied adults with dependents. This bill would only impose requirements for able-bodied adults with dependents if able-bodied adults without dependents are allowed with a federal law change. This would treat both groups the same.
Statewide Work Requirements for those Receiving Food Stamps
This bill requires all able-bodied adults to include able-bodied adults with school aged dependents (six or over).  This bill goes into effect on October 1, 2019 to align with the federal fiscal year.  The funding for the program would be included in the 2019-21 budget.
Asset Testing for Certain Welfare Programs
Establish a limit on assets related to a primary residence such that it cannot exceed 200 percent of the statewide median value home ($321,200) for W-2, Wisconsin Shares, and FoodShare and add a $20,000 limit on the total equity value of non-work-related vehicles to Shares and Food Share. An explicit exemption for agricultural land is included in the bill. W-2 would retain current law vehicle equity value limit of $10,000. Those on currently on Wisconsin Shares would be grandfathered in. Also, allow agencies to write rules creating hardship exemptions. Some provisions require a federal law change.
Child Support Compliance as a Condition of Medicaid for able-bodied adults
The bill prohibits from participation in Medicaid parents and certain individuals who refuse to cooperate in paternity determination of a child, establishing or enforcing any child support order or obtaining any other payments to which a child or individual has rights. This is for able-bodied adults.
Require Self-Sufficiency and Drug Screening Requirements in State Housing
To the extent allowed under federal law, require that the state housing strategy plan maintained under current law by the Department of Administration to include a requirement that public housing authorities conduct screening of adult residents to determine whether a resident is able-bodied and either unemployed or underemployed, and create an employability plan for each resident the housing authority determines is able-bodied and either unemployed or underemployed. Further, require the resident to participate in the plan. Also, require drug screening, testing, and treatment as a part of the plan as a condition of eligibility. 
Creation of Medical Assistance Savings Accounts
This bill would require Health Services to request an amendment to its Medical Assistance waiver to allow for the creation of health savings accounts for individuals on Medical Assistance. This could build upon the current 1115 waiver amendment that is under consideration by the federal government. Elderly, blind, and disabled individuals would be excluded along with children.
Photo Identification Cards for FoodShare
This bill requires the Department of Health Services to prepare and submit a comprehensive implementation plan to the food and nutrition service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval to issue electronic benefit transfer identification cards containing a photo to recipients of assistance under the federal food stamp program. Massachusetts and Missouri already have similar requirements in place.
Wisconsin's Economy Continues to Improve 
This week we learned that our unemployment rate is now equal to the lowest rate on record. Wisconsin's unemployment rate is down to 3%, matching the lowest ever recorded unemployment in state history. Wisconsin also set records with private sector employment and overall size of the state's labor force. 
Connect with Chris

(608) 266-9174
(800) 863-8883

33rd Senate District
15 South
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53708

Today in History

For Friday, January 19th, 2018
From The American Patriot's Almanac
1807 - General Robert E. Lee is born in Virginia.

1861 - Georgia secedes from the union. 

1953 - 70% of homes with a TV watch Lucy Ricardo give birth on I Love Lucy.

1977 - Snow falls in Miami for the first time.  

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