Tags: republican | governors | welfare | reform

GOP Govs Lead Push for Stricter Welfare Programs

By    |   Monday, 15 Dec 2014 09:49 PM

Some Republican-led states are pushing to revamp welfare programs with drug testing and other requirements – and GOP lawmakers reportedly may incorporate some of their ideas in efforts to overhaul federal welfare programs.

Wisconsin, Utah and Indiana are all looking at ways to change requirements for welfare programs, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the Journal, Republican Gov. Scott Walker is pushing for mandated drug screening in Wisconsin for those seeking nutrition or cash assistance, while Utah Republicans want to require certain residents to let the state help them find jobs if they want to collect Medicaid. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, meanwhile, is proposing Medicaid recipients contribute a few dollars a month as a condition for getting benefits.

"I support his efforts,” Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan told The Journal about Walker. "We want to give our governors the ability to craft their own proposals."

Walker told The Journal a drug-screening plan would aim to ensure welfare recipients are drug-free and eligible to work.

"I can’t tell you how many employers in transportation, even in construction, certainly in health care and other professions who say, 'We can’t get people to pass the drug test.' " Walker told The Journal.

Pence's idea in Indiana is for low-income participants in Medicaid to make monthly payments of $3 to $25 into a health-savings account.

In Kansas, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback expanded work requirements and tightened time limits for cash assistance three years ago. Prospective and former beneficiaries are finding work or no longer qualifying for benefits, a spokeswoman for his administration told The Journal.

Though critics have slammed Kansas' changes as punishing children, it's drug-screening rules that have turned out to be the most contentious, The Journal reports.

A federal appeals court struck down a 2011 Florida law that required drug screening for people seeking benefits, and the U.S. Agriculture Department has blocked a drug-screening requirement in Georgia for the state’s food-stamp program.

At least 10 states have approved drug tests for certain welfare benefits, but in more than a dozen others, The Journal reports, the effort has been blocked.

“It’s political grandstanding. I don’t think it’s particularly effective, and it’s constitutionally problematic,” Georgia Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb told The Journal.

And Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, whose veto of a drug-test law last year was overrode, told The Journal he's got no timeline to begin testing.

"It has got to be done in a sound strategic way and an affordable way where it doesn’t cost you more than what you would benefit from," he told The Journal.

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Some Republican-led states are pushing to revamp welfare programs with drug testing and other requirements – and GOP lawmakers reportedly may incorporate some of their ideas in efforts to overhaul federal welfare programs.
republican, governors, welfare, reform
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2014-49-15
Monday, 15 Dec 2014 09:49 PM
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