Today, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4) released this statement following Governor Scott Walker's proposal to reinstate work requirements for FoodShare participants. FoodShare, Wisconsin's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites with the food assistance they need each month.
"It is no secret that Wisconsin, along with the rest of the nation, is facing economic hardship. The unemployment rate in my hometown of Milwaukee is at 9.6 percent. It is common sense that when unemployment is high, the number of those who rely on FoodShare increases. It is also common sense to continue to provide the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who rely on FoodShare each month with simple access to the food assistance they need. But apparently, common sense is not so common.
"Once again our governor has put his ideology before the needs of the people. Instead of focusing on job creation to reduce the number of those on the FoodShare program, his proposed policy change could increase the number of hungry adults in Wisconsin as well as put additional burdens on food pantries, churches and other groups, such as Hunger Task Force, that provide assistance to those facing food insecurity. Governor Walker seems to be willing to dedicate $17 million a year in state funding for this questionable training, even though it won't result in savings in the FoodShare program. These valuable state funds could be used for so many other priorities--such as job creation and mass transit.
"Since securing employment after finishing unpaid job training is not guaranteed, participation in this program has been historically low resulting in lost FoodShare benefits. The Hunger Task Force estimates that the state would lose $82.3 million annually in federal benefits if the mandatory work requirements were implemented. In addition, this loss in benefits would ultimately take $147.4 million away from our local economy, according to a Department of Agriculture estimate.
"As leaders we are often faced with difficult situations as we attempt to balance our responsibilities. However, we must always act in the best interest of the people whom we represent. With this sentiment in mind, I urge Governor Walker to rethink this recommendation in his state budget request."