The governor’s budget message leaned heavily on the theme of workforce development and “rewarding work.” The governor highlighted Wisconsin’s improving unemployment rate and recent, albeit modest, increases in manufacturing jobs. Other recent analyses have demonstrated that Wisconsin’s rate of business closures outpaced its rate of new business starts, with only Eau Claire and Madison bucking this trend.
WEDC: The governor’s budget would repeal the restriction in current law prohibiting the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) from originating new loans other than those issued under the technology loan program, after June 30, 2017. In repealing this limitation, the governor’s budget also requires that any new loan programs be funded out of loan repayments to WEDC. Since 2011, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, WEDC’s annual loan repayment receipts have ranged from approximately $3 million to approximately $9 million.
Workforce Development: The governor’s workforce development initiatives are largely comprised of modifications to the Department of Workforce Development’s Fast Forward Program. Notable changes include:
- Permitting DWD to issue up to $1 million in grants to equip mobile classrooms to provide job skills training in “underserved” areas of the state, including to provide training to inmates at correctional facilities who are anticipating reentry into the workforce;
- Expanding the types of programs that may receive funding under the Fast Forward program, to include:
- Grants for collaborative projects that are designed to prepare high school students with certifications that prepare them for jobs that DWD determines to be in “high-demand” fields;
- Public-private partnerships that establish nursing training programs for middle and high school students; and
- Public-private partnerships targeted at workforce retention.