Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Parisi Directs Dane County Legal Team to Review Governor's Push to Create New Barriers for Poor

February 02, 2015
Joshua Wescott, Chief of Staff, (608) 266-9069, (608) 635-5796.
County Executive

County Executive:  Implementing Walker's New Impediment to Those

Who Fall on Hard Times May Fall on County Governments


Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has asked the County's Corporation Counsel to evaluate any and all legal remedies the County may have should the state implement Governor's Walker's proposal to create new barriers to basic needs.   


The Governor has proposed mandatory drug testing for individuals prior to receiving help for items like food - - help that people currently obtain at places like the Dane County Job Center.  County workers currently help connect those in need of life's basics with available federal and state resources.    


"Thousands of people in our region lost their jobs due to the Great Recession:  The GM Plant in Janesville, American TV, Cub Foods, the construction and manufacturing industries - many middle class families had the rug pulled out from under them, and many people striving to reach the middle class fell deeper into poverty," Parisi said Monday at a news conference at the Dane County Job Center. 


“People who fall on hard times should not be treated like criminals; they should be treated like people who have fallen on hard times: with dignity and respect.  Requiring someone who has just been laid off from their job to pee in a cup is not treating people in a dignified manner; it is degrading and insulting,” Parisi added.


Those with felony drug convictions are already required to undergo drug screening prior to receiving public benefits like food stamps. 


Under Governor Walker’s proposal, more than 10,000 more adults from Dane County would be subject to the screening before receiving help for items like food and Medicaid.  Those tests would cost over $750,000 in tax money per year.  Walker’s proposal would require permission from the federal government before being implemented. 


"Passing policies that hurt the poor isn't the Wisconsin I grew up in and not the kind of state we should leave for the next generation," Parisi added. 


"Instead of new divisive walls and obstacles and distinguishing the 'haves' from the 'have nots,' let's have an honest conversation about eliminating poverty.  From our most rural farming communities to our big cities, poverty is a real challenge that won't be solved by making it harder for people to come out of it.