Reducing Waste, Improving Services, and Making Government More Efficient
Governor Walker’s focus is simple – more prosperity, better performance, and true independence for all citizens across the state. We need to help put people on a path towards greater independence. Some of the ways we are doing this is through successful worker training for those receiving food stamps and by increasing individual control of personal health care choices, while maintaining a vital safety net for our state’s neediest.
Hardworking Wisconsin families should be able to keep more of the money they earn, so they can build a bright future of their choosing for their children and grandchildren. Due to years of kicking the can down the road, our state dealt with budget deficits for well over a decade. When Governor Walker took office, Wisconsin had a $3.6 billion budget deficit and because of our tough, but prudent, decisions, Wisconsin ended that budget with a nearly $700 million surplus.
As government grows larger, it often becomes wasteful and inefficient. If wasteful spending continued unabated, Wisconsin families would be paying thousands more than what they pay today to operate state government. Governor Walker put into place long-term structural reforms, which have already saved taxpayers well over $1 billion. These reforms will continue to save taxpayers billions more year after year that they are in place. 1
Right-sizing state government and reforming it to be more efficient will allow us to invest in areas of need – such as worker training.By becoming more efficient and controlling the cost of state government, it can be more nimble and have more resources to react to the future needs of the state.
We must adapt to the marketplace of the 21st century and create a dynamic system of government. We can protect the most vulnerable, while giving people the resources they need to get back on their feet. We should give our friends and neighbors in need a hand up, so they can get back on their feet and provide for themselves and their families.
The 2013-15 Biennial Budget reforms government in the following ways:
- Reforming FoodShare Employment and Training Program (FSET): The budget invests $31 million in funds for worker training for able-bodied adults without dependent children, who receive FoodShare benefits. Federal law requires able-bodied adults without dependent children to meet work or job training requirements as a condition of eligibility for FoodShare benefits. For years, Wisconsin has offered FSET services on a voluntary basis. Able-bodied adults without dependent children will now be required to enroll in employment and worker training programs as a condition of FoodShare. Participation in these employment programs for adults with dependent children, the elderly, and people with disabilities will remain voluntary. It is estimated more than 30,000 individuals will receive training under this program.
- Streamlining Government: The budget consolidates programs in order to make government smaller and more efficient. For example, the Office of Justice Assistance is consolidated into the Department of Justice. Also, the Petroleum Inspection Program is consolidated at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, which will save hundreds of thousands of dollars and reduce unneeded state positions.
- Waste, Fraud, and Abuse:The budget continues the Governor’s push to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse by:
- Adding fraud investigators at the Department of Revenue. These investigators will ensure taxpayers claiming credits are truly eligible to receive them. This protects benefits for those truly in need.
- Providing an additional $4.25 million per year in child support enforcement. An Office of Inspector General at the Department of Children and Families will be created to conduct fraud prevention, program integrity, and audit activities for all department-administered programs, including the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare.
- Unemployment Insurance: One of the most persistent complaints from small businesses is the state’s unemployment insurance system. The budget, as well as accompanying state legislation, make common sense changes to our UI system that save tens of millions, while protecting the unemployed as they seek employment. Additionally, the number of work searches is set to increase from two to four. This change will help get more people back to work, while providing a hand up to those who need it.
- Other positive Unemployment Insurance Reforms:
- Provide an increase in maximum weekly unemployment benefits for UI claimants of $7 a week.
- Provide more clarity for employers by providing a model workplace policy handbook ensuring employers and employees know the law. This will help streamline adjudications and make them more efficient for the employer and employee.
- Protects employers from a $27 million interest payment as well as a $191 million tax increase due next year due to an outstanding loan from the federal government used to pay for unemployment.