WI Families Could See 'Double Whammy' From Budget Policies
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Congress is again steeped in a looming budget crisis as lawmakers face a deadline to approve a new government spending plan.
In Wisconsin, policy analysts say working families could fall through the cracks if certain GOP proposals go through. Prior to the recent Congressional recess, House Republicans had floated ideas such as slashing funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
Daithi Wolfe, senior early education analyst for Kids Forward, said the proposed cuts could lead to 71,000 eligible participants in Wisconsin being denied WIC benefits. He warned about creating negative outcomes.
"Every step of the way, obviously, kids and families need support," Wolfe pointed out. "But if we don't do it early, then we pay for it later."
He noted the budget concerns come as Wisconsin families brace for child care funding woes at the state level. Gov. Tony Evers has scheduled a special session in hopes of making permanent a pandemic-related subsidy program. State Republicans recently voted to let it expire. In Washington, Freedom Caucus members have said they want tighter spending after feeling ignored in the recent debt-ceiling debate.
Wolfe emphasized other spending proposals would result in 1,000 Wisconsin preschoolers losing access to Head Start, and 1,400 young people being left out of job training programs. He stressed households relying on the programs do not need any more barriers being put in their way.
"These are all working people in our state that are working poor because we refuse to raise the minimum wage," Wolfe asserted. "We've refused to come up with jobs that pay a living wage and to support families and children."
Congress needs to adopt a new spending plan by Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown. With deep divisions still in place, including among moderate Republicans and far-right members, there is growing concern a deal will not be reached in time.
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