CONTACT: Zach Madden, 608-266-7521(office) 608-620-3884 (cell)
MADISON – Fiscal estimates released yesterday show that ten special session bills touted by Governor Walker and Republicans to reduce fraud and waste will cost taxpayers at least $304 million in the first biennium alone. Initial costs to implement the changes called for in 8 of the 10 bills is greater than $124 million. Ongoing costs to taxpayers for these bills is estimated to exceed $90 million annually, or $180 million over the biennium. Due to lack of adequate cost estimates for two of the bills, the real cost to taxpayers could be significantly greater, with little of the spending filtering down to provide real, tangible assistance to families in need.
“The real waste and fraud comes at the hands of Governor Walker and Republicans who want to spend more than $300 million of taxpayer money without addressing the real needs of hardworking Wisconsin families struggling to make ends meet,” said Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), ranking Democratic member on the Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform.
At a public hearing this week, committee members heard hours of testimony in opposition the proposed bills. Those testifying included low-income workers, parents, clergy, and advocates for people with disabilities, seniors, and survivors of domestic violence who raised serious concerns that the bills take a cynical approach that does not work to connect people with family supporting jobs or to alleviate poverty.
“What was crystal clear at this week’s hearing is that making it harder for our most vulnerable neighbors to feed their families or keep a roof over their heads does nothing to lift people out of poverty,” said Rep. Subeck. “We can get people to work at family supporting jobs with policies that increase access to transportation and childcare, expand education and job training opportunities, and raise wages. Instead, Republicans have chosen to make it harder to get help and punish low-wage workers already struggling to make ends meet.”
At the hearing on Tuesday, questions were raised regarding the cost to taxpayers, but no fiscal estimates were available at that time, and the bill’s authors were unable to answer questions about costs. It was not until the public and the media were no longer watching that fiscal estimates were released, with some not released until the next day.
Rep. Subeck added, “The governor thinks that going after struggling families is the best way to fire up his base ahead of a tough 2018 election. Instead of wasting more than $304 million of taxpayer money on an election year gimmick, Governor Walker and Republicans ought to finally start addressing the real struggles of hardworking Wisconsin families.”