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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Applauds Wisconsin Works for Everyone Welfare Reform Plan

April 10, 2018

“Congratulations to Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature for their leadership in passing groundbreaking welfare reforms.” - Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.

Heartland experts testified in the Wisconsin Legislature in support of these reforms

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) today signed a series of welfare reform bills that enact work requirements for welfare recipients and increase the number of hours able-bodied adults must work or enroll in job training from 20 hours to 30 hours per week to receive benefits. The reforms mandate drug testing for public housing assistance, with funding for alcohol and drug addiction treatment. The reform package also prohibits food stamps and other Medicaid benefits if a recipient’s home is worth more than $321,000, creates an Earned Income Tax Credit pilot program, implements asset testing, and creates Medical Assistance Savings Accounts.

Many of these reforms were suggested in The Heartland Institute’s 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card and the fourth edition of The Patriot’s Toolbox, which was sent to legislators in Wisconsin. Heartland experts also testified at hearings in the Wisconsin Legislature. [Note: Wisconsin state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout mentioned Heartland’s influence on these reforms during a floor debate. Watch her remarks here.]

The following statements from policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest – or to connect to Heartland’s professional TV studio or podcast studio for your program – please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“In the 1990s, Congress and other states followed Wisconsin’s lead when Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) signed similarly groundbreaking welfare reforms. The Heartland Institute believes other states should once again look to Wisconsin as a model on how to transition people from government dependency to become productive citizens.

“I’m proud that Heartland played a role in moving these reforms through the legislature. We have been and remain a national leader on welfare policy innovation and we plan to promote the adoption of Wisconsin’s comprehensive reforms in the other 49 states. Congratulations to Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature for their leadership in passing groundbreaking welfare reforms.”

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
The Heartland Institute

Dr. Huelskamp represented Kansas’ 1st District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017 and led welfare reform efforts as a state senator in Kansas for 14 years.

“With Gov. Walker’s signing of this welfare reform package, Wisconsin continues to be a leader when it comes to passing free market reforms. The reform package – including work requirements, the creation of an Earned Income Tax Credit pilot program, asset testing, and the creation of Medical Assistance Savings Accounts – represent a comprehensive approach to move people from government dependency to self-sufficiency. It also preserves and ensures an important safety net will remain for those who truly need assistance. Other states should once again look to Wisconsin as a model for innovative welfare reforms.”

John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute

“Work is the solution to poverty, and Wisconsin's innovative reforms incentivize work over welfare, just as they did in the 1990s.”

Peter Ferrara
Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy
The Heartland Institute

Mr. Ferrara is the author of Power to the People: The New Road to Freedom and Prosperity for the Poor, Seniors, and Those Most in Need of the World’s Best Health Care (2015).

“For years, Wisconsin’s welfare programs have squelched opportunity and trapped the less fortunate in government dependency. Gov. Scott Walker’s ‘Wisconsin Works For Everyone’ initiative applies the lessons learned during the 1990s welfare reforms and provides an exit ramp for families to escape poverty. It strengthens work requirements for the Badger State’s food stamp program, prioritizes these benefits for the truly needy, and enhances the Earned Income Tax Credit to ensure recipients attain financial self-sufficiency. Walker’s reforms offer a comprehensive model for lawmakers around the country to help people move from away from welfare and towards self-reliance.

Charlie Katebi
State Government Relations Manager
The Heartland Institute

Tim Huelskamp served as president of The Heartland Institute from 2017 to 2019.
John Nothdurft joined the staff of The Heartland Institute in May 2008 and left in January of 2019.
Peter Ferrara, J.D., is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute and an advisor for entitlement reform and budget policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation.
Charlie Katebi was a state government relations manager at the Heartland Institute.