MADISON, Wis. — While the mainstream media headlines last week screamed that 15,000 people have been kicked out of the state’s food stamp program, one lawmaker tells Wisconsin Watchdog the numbers actually point to a success story for taxpayers.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that 15,000 people “lost access” to FoodShare, Wisconsin’s food stamp program, due to a state law that requires able-bodied recipients to work or look for work in order to receive the taxpayer-subsidized benefit.
It was a sky-is-falling account.
“They will bankrupt our food banks,” Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force, a food distributor to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries, told the State Journal.
State Rep. Dave Craig, R-Town of Vernon, said the mainstream media missed the real story, that the law is working.
“I can’t help to think there are plenty of Wisconsinites reading their newspaper … and scratching their heads saying, ‘Why was this (the law) not done years ago?’ And the liberals in the media could not imagine that being done?” Craig told Wisconsin Watchdog recently on “Madison in the Morning,” on Newstalk 1310 WIBA.
The law, which went into effect in April, demands that able-bodied adults without children living at home work at least 80 hours a month or look for employment to be eligible for food stamps. Participants have a grace period of three months in which to do so.
“They have three months to not search for a job, to not do the training, to not do anything and still get these benefits,” Craig said. “I think that is a very, very, very reasonable and a lenient standard for an individual to get these types of benefits and I think it’s right in line with what the average Wisconsinite would expect from their government.”
State Department of Health Services data, obtained by the State Journal through an open records request, show about 25 percent of the 60,000 FoodShare recipients eligible to work were kicked out of the program for failing to comply with the law’s requirements. It would appear that many of the remaining 45,000 recipients, those not new to the program, were working or looking for work.
About 4,500 able-bodied adults in the FoodShare program did find work through a mandatory job training program, the State Journal reported.
That is great news, Craig said. Not just for taxpayers but for individuals moving from government dependence to independence.
There are positions available, tens of thousands of them in Wisconsin, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.
Craig said employers in his district constantly tell him of the same three struggles they face: Finding job candidates that can pass a drug test; applicants willing to get off of state benefits and work; applicants willing to show up on time and with regularity.
Why should taxpayers be responsible for feeding people, long-term, who have the ability to work, the lawmaker asked.
“The government has a role in providing a hand up, not a handout,” Craig said. “We need to make sure people are not abusing the system.”
He said the advocates of big government need to ask some serious questions about priorities, and the role taxpayer funding should play.
“What is the role of government? What are our core duties? Is it to make sure everyone in society that chooses not to work even though they have the ability to work has a sustained living? Or is it to make sure that we have a society and an economy that works where we can have production and commerce, to make sure that all boats rise with a rising tide, to make sure everyone is successful by pulling their own weight?” Craig asked.