Senate Democrats Point Out Link Between Job Killing Decisions, New W-2 Funding Requests

(MADISON) Reacting to the news of layoffs at Talgo, Senate Democrats on the Joint Committee on Finance blasted Governor Walker and Republicans for their decision to pursue job-killing policies over investing in Wisconsin’s economy. Due to actions by the Republican members of the committee and the Governor in March, Talgo was forced to lay off 35 workers and could possibly lay off 30 more. In addition, $71.8 million dollars spent on trains purchased by the state may be wasted as those trains are mothballed. This news follow reports that the Republican budget has added nearly 3,000 more people monthly to the welfare rolls in Wisconsin.

“The blame for these layoffs at Talgo can only be laid at the feet of Governor Walker and the Republicans,” Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) commented. “At every turn they have put ideology over the jobs at Talgo and have today become the job killers. Their policies led to net job loss in Wisconsin last year, crushed thousands of jobs on the high-speed rail line, and pushed more people onto welfare. That is failure by any accounting.”

“It is impossible to understand why Governor Walker brought his proposal to move forward with the train purchase before the finance committee and then refused to take action when the Republicans rejected it,” added Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar). “The Democrats on the committee were willing to join him in reversing the wrongheaded decision made by the Republicans on the committee and work with him to block their attempt to kill these jobs, but he ignored his responsibility and acted like some other person had the responsibility to lead.”

The Walker administration is now requesting $26 million in additional federal funding to pay benefits for unemployed individuals who are unable to find work to support their families. In its request to the Joint Committee on Finance, Walker's administration wrote that caseloads for the state’s W-2 program (welfare) have been higher than estimated by 2,800 per month since July 2011 – the time that Gov. Walker’s 2011-13 budget went into effect. These additional cases have resulted in benefit costs exceeding the amount budgeted by over $1.8 million per month.

“All of our neighboring states have seen strong job growth, but Wisconsin led the nation in job losses last year as a result of Gov. Walker’s misplaced priorities,” Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) noted. “Rather than focusing on ways to help workers and create jobs, Gov. Walker chose to divide our state with a highly partisan special interest agenda. Now, Gov. Walker’s own cabinet Secretaries have been forced to come back to the Legislature to request more money to fund unemployment programs, further illustrating that the Republicans’ policies haven’t worked.”

“While the Governor and Republicans like to tout the unemployment rate as a good thing, their request for more funding for public assistance suggests that the unemployment rate has dropped not because their policies are working, but because they have done such a bad job of handling the economy people have given up hope.” Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) concluded.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin experienced a net loss of jobs over all of 2011, the first year of Republicans governing in Wisconsin.