|Letter Opposing AB 57|
Tuesday April 11, 2017
Dear Honorable Members of the Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform,
YWCA Madison strongly opposes Assembly Bill 57. Quite simply, if this bill becomes law, more Wisconsin children and families will go hungry.
Income should be the only qualifier for FoodShare. If individuals do not make enough money to feed themselves or their family, the state should provide them with nutritious food. Wisconsin already limits FoodShare, requiring some recipients to work or participate in work training and requiring some recipients to complete drug tests. These conditions have serious consequences. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, since the state instituted these limits in 2015, FoodShare participants in Dane County have decreased from more than 70,000 residents in 2014 to less than 63,000 in 2016. Meanwhile, in our experience as the largest shelter provider for women and families in Dane County, the local need for FoodShare has increased. Wisconsin residents are going hungry.
The new conditions proposed in AB 57 will place barriers on parents’ and their children’s access to food. There are many reasons why paternity determination, and any subsequent child support payments, can be complicated. While ideally, providing child support is in the best interest of the child, circumstances of life and family often create other priorities. But AB 57 has no nuance. It denies FoodShare to a custodial parent for failing to “cooperate fully, in good faith”.
Our clients know first-hand that the state is all too quickly willing to label an individual as “failing to cooperate fully”. One of our current YWCA shelter residents, Lashaua, had her W-2 and child care funding frozen for several months because the state erroneously failed to enter her change of address when she moved into our shelter. The state declared that she was no longer cooperating with them. Lashaua was able to correct the state’s error, but not before losing several months of child care and jeopardizing job training because of it. How many individuals is the state willing to remove from FoodShare and deny food access for this and other errors?
Vote down AB 57. Food is a basic human need, do not limit its access and let Wisconsin children and families go hungry. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or Carousel Bayrd, our Policy and Partnership Coordinator, at (608) 395-2196.
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