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MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker is following through on his campaign promise to require drug testing for public aid recipients in Wisconsin and limiting how long they can receive benefits.
The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate on Thursday announced more details about those plans that he first proposed during last year's campaign. The drug-testing requirements and benefits restrictions, called the Workforce Readiness Plan, will be included in his two-year budget proposal being released on Feb. 3.
Walker is proposing that drug testing be required for those applying for or receiving benefits from a variety of state aid, including unemployment insurance and FoodShare, which is Wisconsin's food stamp program.
The idea has had legal challenges in other states, but Walker said Wisconsin's system would be set up differently.
"This is not a punitive measure. This is about getting people ready for work in the sense that if someone fails, and our expectation is that most will pass, that this won't be a widespread problem," Walker said. "But for those that fail a drug test or a screening that we will be providing them the assistance they need to get drug free so they can get back in the workforce."
"We are anxious to see the proposal and anxious to see how broadly they extend this," Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said. "There are a vast number of Wisconsinites that get public assistance whether you're a farmer, a business owner, someone who gets public assistance, and we look forward to the debate, and I trust the process will be fair. I'm not so sure we will agree on the outcome."
Walker said those who fail the drug test will be given the opportunity to participate in a free drug-treatment program and receive job training.
Walker has not said what the program might cost, but he has said there will be savings in each program where the drug testing is required, and that he will present a price tag when the he introduces his budget.
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