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County Proposes Taxing Jobless

January 28, 1986

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) _ A proposal to head off ″welfare immigration″ by taxing unemployed people who move to Kenosha County has drawn fire from the American Civil Liberties Union in Wisconsin.

″I have heard of some really strange proposals, but that one really takes the cake,″ Eunice Edgar, executive director of the Wisconsin ACLU, said Monday.

Kenosha County is about 45 miles from downtown Chicago. The county’s Department of Social Services says about 25 families a month moved in from Illinois last summer and became eligible for AFDC, or Aid to Families with Dependent Children, six months later.

The department’s report Monday said a family of four can effectively get $185 more a month in AFDC and food stamps in Wisconsin than in Illinois.

The department recommended that the county’s Board of Supervisors get a legal opinion on whether it could enact a tax for unemployment of $150 to $300 a month, depending on family size.

The recipients would have to pay the assessment until after they have been employed for 120 days.

″I am kind of aghast,″ Ms. Edgar said. ‴I just don’t think that kind of proposal will fly in the court system.″

Not only would it force needy people to use their welfare benefits to pay the tax, it could affect almost anyone - such as a retired parent that moves to the county to live with relatives, she said.

The report by department director N. Clark Earl and program manager George W. Leutermann contained other suggestions for reducing welfare costs.

Spending $110,000 this year to investigate welfare cheats could save more than $150,000, the report said.

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