Legislation that would prevent those who fall behind on child support payment or refuse to acknowledge the paternity of a child from qualifying for the state’s FoodShare program drew a wide range of criticism Tuesday, during a public hearing at the Capitol.
State Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) is a co-sponsor of the bill, which he said is intended to ensure people are taking responsibility for supporting their children – and not claiming public benefits while avoiding their obligations. “It is tragic any time a child is not provided for with support they need,” he told a legislative committee. “When one in four cases results in children going without needed support, we’ve gotta take action.”
Democratic State Representative Debra Koltse (D-Janesville) was among many lawmakers and members of groups that advocate for the poor who questioned the use of financial penalties for those who may not be paying child support because they are already struggling to make ends meet. “I don’t know how taking food away from people creates a better world,” she said.
Kapenga suggested those parents should work harder though, if they are having trouble paying their bills. “Someone can go in and they can go get a second job at Subway if they have to,” he said. “It’s not the most glorious thing but if there’s bills that have to be paid and you’re talking about kids, then maybe that’s what they have to go do.”
A state Assembly committee is currently considering the bill.