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15 groups challenge Walker's plan to require drug tests for public aid

A coalition of 15 groups is challenging Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to require applicants for and recipients of public assistance and unemployment insurance to pass drug tests.

The organizations joined in a letter to the Republican governor and legislators, writing in advance of Walker’s budget address. They coalition includes advocates for low-income Wisconsinites, members of Wisconsin’s faith community, advocates for Wisconsin women, representatives of organized labor and national organizations.

The letter raises numerous questions about the governor’s proposal.

David R. Riemer, a senior fellow at the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, said in a news release, “Gov. Walker’s proposal raises a series of important questions for policymakers to address before going full steam into removing Wisconsinites from public assistance and unemployment insurance for not passing drug tests. These questions concern the constitutionality of the plan, its costs, the many new processes that will have to be implemented, and evidence about whether the plan would improve public health and is cost effective.”

He added, “Even if all of these questions are answered, drug testing is hardly a wise policy solution for greatly increasing employment and reducing poverty in Wisconsin.”

The letter suggests that policymakers look to evidence-based solutions that could dramatically reduce poverty and help Wisconsinites get back to work, including:

• Expanding the state’s transitional jobs program.

• Restoring and expanding the state earned income tax credit and Homestead Credit.

• Raising the state’s minimum wage.

• Expanding BadgerCare to cover all adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.  

The groups include: Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, Wisconsin Council of Churches, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP), Wisconsin Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, Milwaukee Transitional Jobs Collaborative, Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, Justice Initiatives Institute, Project RETURN, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Jobs Now, AFSCME Council 40, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and National Employment Law Project (NELP).

On the Web …

Read the letter.

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