October 13, 2011  
Sen. Larson, Rep. Mason Urge Swift Action on Wisconsin Jobs Initiative
Madison – After announcing the bill last week, State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and State Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) introduced the Wisconsin Jobs Initiative to the Legislature today with the support of 27 additional co-sponsors from across the state. This legislation reinvests in Wisconsin’s Technical College System (WTCS) by providing job skills training and education to at least 35,000 Wisconsin workers.
“We need to prove to our local businesses and our dislocated workers that jobs remain our top priority,” said Sen. Larson. “I encourage members of the Legislature to work together in ushering this bill quickly through the legislative process and to the floor.”
Governor Walker and legislative Republicans recently cut funding to WTCS by 30 percent, forcing schools to scale back important job training programs. This has created waitlists of one to six years for most, if not all, of Wisconsin’s job training programs, including nursing, welding, automotive maintenance, and accounting. As a result, many local businesses, including Caterpillar and Molded Dimensions, have family-supporting jobs available but lack the qualified skilled workers to fill them.
“Since announcing this legislative initiative, we have been hearing more and more reports from our local businesses about the need to fund education, especially at our technical colleges,” said Sen. Larson. “The Wisconsin Jobs Initiative fills this vital need and we should pass it immediately.”
“I continue to hear from more employers throughout our state who need skilled workers,” said Rep. Mason. “There is nothing smart about having unfilled high-skilled jobs when we have record high unemployment. This bill will get 35,000 people back to work.”
The Wisconsin Jobs Initiative will replace the $34.2 million that Governor Walker cut from the WTCS in the 2011-2013 biennial budget. It also provides $35.8 million for grants to technical colleges programs that reduce unemployment and put people back to work, with preference given to areas with the highest unemployment rates. This investment will help get Wisconsin’s displaced workers back on their feet, while also providing our local businesses with qualified, skilled applicants for years to come.