MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Parents who work fewer than 80 hours a month could face food stamp benefit cuts under a proposal Gov. Scott Walker released Monday.
Walker's proposal would also require adults with children between age 6 and 18 to attend job training and search for work five days a week. It was part of a package of welfare reforms called "Wisconsin Works for Everyone" that Walker released during a series of news conferences across the state.
Under current state law, only childless adults in the FoodShare program have to meet the work requirement. They lose all food stamp benefits after three months of non-compliance.
Since that law took effect in April 2015, about 21,000 able-bodied food stamp recipients have found work and about 64,000 have lost their benefits.
Under Walker's new proposal, adults with children who don't meet the program's work requirements would face a "partial" reduction in benefits. Walker didn't say how much the loss in benefits could be.
Walker is also calling for a similar work requirement for people receiving housing vouchers from the federal government.
Democrats and child advocates blasted the move, saying it was counterproductive and would hurt more families than it would help. But Republican legislative leaders and the state chamber of commerce, which typically backs conservatives, praised the idea as giving incentives to put more people back to work.
Walker's proposals could require law changes by Congress and waivers from President Donald Trump's administration before taking effect. They would also have to pass the Republican-controlled state Legislature.
Walker has been saying that he hopes to work closely with the Trump administration on a variety of initiatives, including welfare reform. Walker is expected to seek a third term in 2018 and will be spelling out his priorities for the next two years in the state budget he releases in February.
Walker provided few details of the welfare reform package on Monday, saying those would come in the budget. Both of the new work requirements would begin as pilot programs, but Walker didn't say where. His outline also doesn't say how much the new requirements would cost.
Walker said he also wants to ease people off receiving child-care assistance from the state once they become employed and start earning more money. Once someone becomes employed and hits 200 percent of the poverty line, they would start contributing $1 copay for child care for every $3 they earn.
He also wants to expand programs to help people released from prison re-enter the workforce; create a tax credit to help young people aging out of foster care and those with disabilities who are working; and create a new tax credit for low-income parents who do not have custody of their children but are fulfilling their child support obligations.
Walker is also calling on the Trump administration to clear the way for the state to drug test some welfare recipients.
"All of these with the idea that we want to get people to work," Walker said at a Milwaukee news conference. "We fundamentally believe that public assistance should be a trampoline not a hammock."
Walker said the new proposals are based on the fundamental principle that work is dignifying and connects people to society.
"We believe our public assistance programs should ask able-bodied adults to take steps toward self-sufficiency through work, while also providing comprehensive told to help them get a job and keep a job," Walker said in a statement.
But Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jen Shilling said the proposal is another example of Walker setting a double standard, making it hard for poor families to get benefits while the state hands out millions of dollars in tax breaks to wealthy corporations "with no strings attached."
Walker said the proposals build off welfare reform championed by fellow Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1996. Thompson was joining Walker on Monday to announce the plans.
Walker promised in his State of the State speech earlier this month to be a national leader in welfare reform, just as Thompson was in the 1990s. Thompson left midway through his fourth term as governor in 2001 to become U.S. Department of Health Services secretary under then-President George W. Bush.
Associated Press writer Ivan Moreno contributed to this report from Milwaukee.
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