Wisconsin Senate passes welfare reform bills; 'Public assistance should be a trampoline, not a hammock'

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Legislature has approved most of Gov. Scott Walker's welfare overhaul package, including tougher work requirements for people on food stamps.

The Senate on Tuesday voted to increase the current 20-hour per-week work or job training requirement for able-bodied adults to 30 hours and include parents with school-aged children for the first time.

The Senate also voted to require drug screening, testing and treatment to be eligible for public housing. Another bill passed would prohibit anyone from receiving food stamps and other Medicaid benefits if they own a home worth double the median value — or about $321,000.

Republicans were united in support of the bills with all Democrats against.

The bills all previously passed the Assembly and now go to Walker for his signature.

Gov. Walker issued the following statement:

"We believe public assistance should be a trampoline, not a hammock. These reforms will help people move from government dependence to true independence through the dignity that comes from work. I thank the Legislature for approving these commonsense measures, especially Speaker Robin Vos and Senator Chris Kapenga. Wisconsin continues to lead the way on welfare reform."

State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R - Brookfield) issued this statement:

"The important changes we passed today will encourage personal responsibility, accountability, and help prevent fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. We are working to ensure that those who are most needy are given a hand up toward independence rather than a handout."