State Wants to Bypass Knesset for New Wisconsin Plan

The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry is searching for a way to reinstate the "Welfare to Work" program, the so-called Wisconsin Plan, without having to go through the Knesset. The ministry is also considering how to expand the plan to the entire country without Knesset approval. The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee refused to extend the program at the end of April, which led to the closing of the plan's employment centers.

The ministry's plan is to take advantage of the existing law governing the Employment Service as a back door around the Knesset and let the service run a similar program under its auspices. Even though the Employment Service objected to the Wisconsin Plan, and has now taken responsibility for those enrolled in it, the head of the service, Yossi Farhi, said last week that "the framework of the Orot Leta'asuka (Welfare-to-Work ) plan was correct, with the necessary changes."

The only legal changes required would be to allow the Employment Service, and not only the National Insurance Institute, the right to cancel allowances for those refusing work. MKS had claimed there was no need for private companies to run the program for the unemployed - and make a killing - when the Employment Service could provide the same services for less money.

The ministry said it was examining all possibilities, though it preferred legislation on the matter.