Putting 'Integrity' Back in Program Integrity

Knodl introduces bi-partisan bill focusing on W-2 fraud.

In 1994, Governor Thompson unveiled Wisconsin Works (W-2), a bipartisan plan that would dramatically reform welfare by ending cash handouts and placing a greater emphasis on work.  W-2 programs subsidize employment, help parents find childcare, and even provide transportation assistance to adults who have found jobs.   Since inception, W-2 programs have served as a model for national welfare reform, and have helped thousands of Wisconsin families get back on their feet by providing individuals the tools they need to become self-sufficient.

In recent years, the state has started to back away from the principles that made W-2 a success.  The underlying premise of W-2—that honest individuals willing to work should be given a helping hand—was forgotten as fraud infected the system and criminals stole from taxpayers and the truly needy.   For example, under the Doyle administration, Wisconsin law allowed an applicant for assistance to lie twice (!) before they could be subject to sanction.   As Governor Walker’s Taskforce on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse recently discovered, this type of program administration made a mockery of program integrity and cost taxpayers roughly $200 million annually.  I believe Wisconsin deserves better.

To that end, I have teamed up with Representative Scott Krug and Senator Alberta Darling to introduce legislation to give the Department of Children and Families the tools they need to go after welfare cheats. My legislation ensures W-2 programs continue to emphasize the importance of work while giving honest individuals the assistance they need to get back on their feet.

First, the bill fixes a fundamental problem in the law, and makes it clear that applicants cannot lie on their forms when applying for W-2 benefits.  Second, this proposal cuts through red tape and allows front-line workers in W-2 agencies to apply sanctions when applicants have been caught lying.  Finally, the legislation creates a more progressive system of sanctions that will protect taxpayers from dishonest individuals who would steal not only from the state, but from the truly needy.

I will continue to work to root out waste, fraud, and abuse in our public assistance programs. Not only does this protect taxpayers, but ensures that we can continue to help those who are truly needy. That's Integrity!

To contact me with any questions or comments or to sign up for my regular e-updates, please send an e-mail to Rep.Knodl@legis.wi.gov or call me at (608) 266-3796.

Craig February 06, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Thanks for all you do Rep Knodl. Don't you think there should be a verification process to weed out fraud in W-2 and BadgerCare? I would think the IRS would have a way for you to verify the income as stated. It seems to me if we want to help those who need it the most- then the least we should do is find those who cheat and punish them.
Steve February 06, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Punish them with hard labor at my factory
Lyle Ruble February 08, 2012 at 04:48 PM
C'mon guys, lighten up. Knodl is just throwing it against the wall and see if anything sticks. Whenever elections are coming they always get on a welfare fraud kick. @Steve...They can't place people in your factory, the 14th Amendment outlawed slavery. @Nate...Your supposition is just incorrect.


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