Limit the time on public assistance for certain recipients

Put common sense limits on the amount of time able-bodied, working-age childless adults can be on public assistance


Wisconsin’s Comeback Plan, Walker campaign, July 2014


Changes have taken effect

Gov. Scott Walker campaigned for reelection in 2014 on a pledge to limit how long "able-bodied, working-age childless adults can be on public assistance."

In April 2015, we rated that promise as In the Works based on his then-proposed 2015-'17 state budget. The proposed budget included two noteworthy measures on the topic.

The first one would reduce the amount of time, from five years to four, a childless adult of working age could spend on the state's Medical Assistance program.

The second would reduce the amount of time, also from five years to four, a person could be in the Wisconsin Works, or W-2, program, the state's replacement for traditional welfare.

The difference: W-2 is for parents of children who are still minors. The provision limiting the time one is allowed on Medical Assistance applies only to childless adults.

The bottom line is Walker imposed limits on the amount of time childless adults could be on public assistance, but it is worth noting that those limits were also applied to adults who have children.

We rate this Promise Kept


Scott Walker 2014 Gubernatorial campaign, "Continuing Wisconsin's Comeback," 2014.

Wisconsin Budget Project, "Children's issues in the 2015-'17 Wisconsin budget," July 14, 2015

Paper #355, "Drug Screening and Testing for Adults without Dependent Children Enrolled in BadgerCare Plus," Legislative Fiscal Bureau, May 19, 2015

Health Services, "Overview of Medical Assistance (MA) and related programs," Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 2015

Jason Stein, "Walker budget to bar drug users from food stamps, Medicaid," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 22, 2015

Approval is now up to state lawmakers

Under Walker's budget, Wisconsin Works (W-2) beneficiaries also would be subject to a new time limit.

The budget bill would reduce the lifetime limit for W-2 programs and "job access loans" from 60 months to 48 months.

Under current law, the W-2 program provides work experience and benefits for low-income custodial parents who are at least 18 years old, the state Legislative Reference Bureau explained.

Short-term, interest-free "job access loans" may also be provided to meet immediate and discrete expenses that are related to obtaining or maintaining employment, the bureau said in a memo.

Walker's budget separately says that some recipients of help from the BadgerCare Plus health insurance program for the poor would be limited to 48 months in the program. The cap would apply to childless adults. Again, a waiver of federal law would be needed.

We rate this promise In the Works.


Legislative Reference Bureau memos on 2015-17 state budget

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stories