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Lawmakers question federally-funded advertising for welfare benefits

Wisconsin State Capitol at night
Wisconsin State Capitol at night

MADISON (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Politicians of both parties demand a crackdown, after learning that Wisconsin is getting millions-of-dollars in federal incentives to recruit people for public benefits. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says state-and-local workers are pressured by their bosses to sign up people in jail, and those getting benefits in other states.  That prompted Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend to draft a bill to bring back asset limits to qualify for food stamps -- and reduce benefits to the lowest amount set by federal guidelines. 

In 2004 Wisconsin was among nine states raising income eligibility for aid.  It allowed families making $46,000 a year to get food benefits.  Grothman said it created quote, "a moral crisis as people believe they have a right to live off the government." 

U-S House Democrat Gwen Moore of Milwaukee said supervisors who order workers to sign up prisoners and dead people for public benefits should be fired and criminally charged. 

In 2011 Wisconsin got the largest federal bonus in the country, $33-million, by making it easier to enroll children in medical assistance programs.  Wisconsin also got $4-million for the numbers of people it recruited for food stamps the past couple years. 

Senate Republican Alberta Darling of River Hills says she's working on a number of measures -- including one to make it easier to collect improper benefits from those who received them.  Governor Scott Walker has not commented on the fraud reports.  Darling says she's working with the Republican governor on it -- and they'll be ready to roll out something more definite this fall. 

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