Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force.
"Our ... welfare reform bills ensure help to those who truly need it, while providing the training and assistance they need to re-enter the workforce and regain independence," Walker said in a statement.
Supporters have said that, with the state's unemployment rate at an all-time low of 2.9%, it's the ideal time to shift more people from food stamps and other public benefits to jobs. Though these measures could cost state taxpayers in the short run, they could save money for the federal taxpayers who cover that program's benefits, they say.
Critics say there are more cost-effective ways to get the unemployed into jobs such as public transit and education programs. Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said Walker was spending "millions of taxpayer dollars making it harder for working families to put food on the table."
"Rather than creating barriers and driving more Wisconsin families into poverty, Democrats want to expand economic opportunities, grow our middle class and support strong communities," Shilling said.