Yishai Gets His Way With Wisconsin Plan

The Dinur committee will recommend this week that the national welfare-to-work program last another year but exempt 45-year-olds from participating in it, TheMarker has learned. After months of debate within the committee headed by Ra'anan Dinur, director general of the Prime Minister's Office, the compromise was reached in principle this week, representing a victory for Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai.

Knesset members, as well as Industry and Trade officials such as Yishai, have fought against the Wisconsin plan, known as Mehalev in Hebrew, claiming it is cruel toward the chronically unemployed and denies masses of people welfare payments. They charge the plan's economic model is that of a private business, whose profit is based on reducing welfare stipends and thus saving costs to the state.

The Dinur committee recommendations are expected to reflect Yishai's stance and reject the Finance Ministry's position by transfering responsibility for chronically unemployed adults 45 years of age and older to the Employment Service.

This age group comprises more than half of all current participants in the Wisconsin plan. The change is significant for individuals because the Employment Service requires the jobless to report just once a week for a brief amount of time, while the Wisconsin plan requires people to show up every day for a full day.

The committee leaves an opening to bring back the older unemployed into the plan after a professional training track has been built for them. However, approval of the track would require approval by the industry and trade minister.