This week, I sent the Government Accountability Board a letter asking for a cost estimate on the anticipated statewide recall of Governor Walker. The GAB already tabulated, per my request, that this last summer's recall elections cost the taxpayers of Wisconsin $2.1 million. This amount was mostly spent at the local level. Now, we're heading into what could be a statewide recall and several more recalls of state senators and from my estimation, the cost to the taxpayer could be $10 million or more. I believe our citizens should know the estimated cost from GAB before petitions are circulated so they can make a better informed decision as to whether their tax dollars should be spent on these unnecessary elections or perhaps be spent on plowing the snow-covered roads this winter or filling in the potholes. We all should know the cost before heading into what could be a major financial hardship for many communities.
I know many of you are already frustrated with the recall process after the six recall elections this past summer. It's estimated that both sides spent a record $44 million dollars on the recalls, much of that money was spent on the negative t.v. ads. That's one of the reasons why I am proposing a constitutional amendment to recall the recalls. The legislation puts forth real grounds for a recall which includes being charged with a serious crime or violating of the state code of ethics. We need to have our elected officials to continue to make the courageous votes without fear of a recall. The constitutional amendment would need to be passed by two subsequent legislatures and approved by a public referendum. The legislation will be introduced during the fall legislation session.
I read an interesting editorial this week from the L.A. Times. The editorial board gave our state some advice, "Forget the recall, Wisconsin." After that state's experience with a gubernatorial recall, the editors concluded that recalls, "worsen partisanship and usually fail." With the knowledge of the cost of the potential recall elections, perhaps our citizens will heed that advice.
Last week, I asked you if you would support allowing food stamps to be used at restaurants, including fast food restaurants. An overwhelming number of you, 93 percent, said, "No." More than 100 respondents even added a comment. Here's a sampling: "No, have we gone completely nuts?"; "There are more and more healthy choices to be had"; and "There is no reason why the taxpayer should have to pay for those on food stamps to eat at restaurants." Currently, Wisconsin does not allow FoodShare recipients to use their Quest card on what is considered "cooked food" and that means a burger and fries from a fast food restaurant. However, five states do allow it. Thanks for taking my survey.
This week I had the opportunity to take a tour of Time Warner Cable in Milwaukee. The company employs more than 2,000 people in Wisconsin. I met a good number of employees on my tour of the facilities on Tuesday.
Pictured (from the left) is John Vang, Lead Telemarketing Representative from Racine; Jennifer Ortega, Supervisor Telemarketing from Greenfield; and Cathy Jacobs, Manager Accounts Receivable from Raymond. I appreciate that they took time out of their day to speak with me.
We also shot some public service announcements that will be airing soon that I also will share with you on my website and social media outlets. Many thanks to the folks at Time Warner Cable for their fine hospitality.
Technical College Grants
The Joint Committee on Finance, which I co-chair, unanimously approved technical college grants for advanced manufacturing on Wednesday. Senate Bill 40 increases the funding for these grants by $400,000 annually for the next two years. We know there's a great demand for workers with advanced skills. Even with a high unemployment rate nationwide, we're hearing story after story of companies who can't seem to find workers with the right skill set. A recent report says it takes companies seven weeks to fill job openings and we all know that time is money. I'm hopeful that this additional funding will help our state technical colleges provide courses that will better train students for the workforce.
Unemployment Benefits Change
Wisconsin citizens filing for unemployment benefits for the first time must now register with the Wisconsin Job Service at www.JobCenterofWisconsin.com. Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Scott Baumbach says this change is to help "move individuals who are out of work along the path toward new employment opportunities." This new rule will be in addition to the current requirement to make an active search for work.
The website has resources available to help people find work and currently has roughly 34,000 jobs posted.
Journal Sentinel: Unemployed must register with job service to receive benefits