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Food Stamps groceries shopping, file photo

The Department of Health Services has agreed to pay the federal government nearly $7 million to resolve allegations it falsely claimed a low error rate in its administration of the federal food stamp program for low-income households. 

A proposed work requirement for parents on food stamps would affect nearly 100,000 recipients, new data show.

Gov. Scott Walker will propose in his 2017-19 state budget, set to be released on Wednesday, that parents with children over the age of 6 work or seek work for at least 80 hours per month to continue to receive FoodShare benefits.

The number of FoodShare recipients who have children in that age range is 98,626, or 14 percent of the total number of recipients as of December 2016, according to data obtained from the Department of Health Services through the state’s open records law.

The data do not show how many of those recipients work fewer than 80 hours per month, but Walker has said previously that the number of recipients with children over the age of 6 currently reporting no income is about 7,300.

The proposal is to initially pilot the requirement for parents in counties that have yet to be determined, and Walker may need permission from President Donald Trump or Congress to implement the rule.

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The requirement, if enacted, would expand a current state rule for able-bodied adult recipients without children. If a recipient does neither for three months, that person loses access to food stamps.

Since the work requirement went into effect in April 2015, about 21,000 Wisconsin residents using food stamps have gained employment through state programs designed to connect recipients with jobs. Also in that time, 64,000 FoodShare recipients have lost benefits after receiving three months of food stamps and not looking for nor gaining employment.

FoodShare benefits are paid per household, but Walker has promised children would not be affected by any loss of benefits that may occur if the parent does not meet the work requirement.

Also this week, Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill that would prohibit Wisconsin residents from receiving FoodShare benefits if they refuse to cooperate in determining the paternity of a child, refuse to establish a support order for their children and refuse to pay child support or are delinquent in paying.

According to a memo released by bill sponsors Rep. Joe Sanfileppo, R-New Berlin, and Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, the bill reinstates a rule that was repealed in former Gov. Jim Doyle’s 2007 state budget.

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