FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 16, 2012
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
STATE SENATOR ALBERTA DARLING 608-266-5830
STATE REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT KRUG 608-266-0215
STATE REPRESENTATIVE DAN KNODL 608-266-3796
THREE STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT
WELFARE FRAUD BILL HEADS TO GOVERNOR WALKER
MADISON – Taxpayers will no longer be on the hook when people defraud the state’s W-2 program. Senate Bill 426, authored by State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), Representative Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids) and Representative Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), cracks down on fraud penalizing first offenders. Representative Knodl says the legislation brings the W-2 program back to the principles that made it 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,” Knodl said. “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.”
A glitch in state law prohibited the state from pursing intentional program violations until an individual had committed at least three violations. The lax law resulted in few prosecutions, creating an extreme incentive to cheat. Senate Bill 426 cuts off W2 payments for six months after the first intentional offense. A person could lose their benefits for a year on their second offense and permanently on the third. Senator Darling says the bill will protect taxpayers and people following the rules.
“Recently, a constituent contacted me who was very upset with what she saw in the state’s work program. She is a hard working woman who is following the rules, but was fed up with the people she saw scamming the system with little or no consequences. She asked what incentive there is for her to keep following the rules when others were benefiting by cheating.” Darling said.” This legislation protects those who play by the rules by ensuring their benefits aren’t siphoned away by cheats.”
Senate Bill 426 was approved by the State Senate on a bi-partisan vote of 18-15. It was approved by the Assembly on a vote of 66-27 and now heads to Governor Walker’s desk for final approval.