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Tax on Wealthy Proposed to Restore Technical School Funding

Two Democratic legislators want a 1 percent income tax increase on the state's wealthiest tax filers to pay for job training.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, and State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, are proposing a tax increase on Wisconsin residents earning over $1 million a year to reinstate technical school funding eliminated from the biennial state budget.

The proposed tax rate would increase from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent and could generate $70 million in its first year if enacted. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, there are about 2,900 tax filers who would fit this profile.

“Middle class families and workers have been asked to make tremendous sacrifices in recent months,” said Mason in a written statement. “This bill asks Wisconsin’s wealthiest individuals to share a small amount of that sacrifice in order to train and educate at least 35,000 Wisconsin workers.”

Named the Wisconsin Jobs Initiative, Mason's and Larson's proposal would restore some $34 million for the cut from the 2011-2013 state budget. The Initiative would also allocate almost $35 million for training and education, help dislocated workers and give technical schools the ability to welcome more students.

"Governor Walker's cuts to education forced Wisconsin's technical colleges to scale back important job training. As a result, companies like Caterpillar have family-supporting jobs available but lack the right skilled workers to fill them," said Larson in the same release. "This legislation will help in the short-term by providing Wisconsinites with vital job training to get our neighbors back to work and provide our local businesses long-term with the qualified, skilled applicants they need for years to come."

A report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel underlines the need, saying there are more job openings than there are skilled workers to fill them. Further, say the same thing: companies need people with the right education and experience.

"This bill gives employers what they say they need most right now: skilled workers. This initiative allows us to stand by the workers and companies who built the Wisconsin economy and help them grow in the future,” Mason concluded.

Together, Mason and Larson are asking their Assembly and Senate colleagues for co-sponsorship and expect to formally introduce the bill sometime next week.

Heather Rayne Geyer October 06, 2011 at 07:37 PM
About every other day there is a report proving that training is EXACTLY what we need. http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/the-jobs-paradox-131104548.html
Sara Andrea-Neill October 12, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Somehow this bills purpose got a bit distorted… there is a need to expand high demand programs in the tech colleges of WI. There are long waits to get into these programs, you cannot petition until you get prereq.s done and once you petition you may have to wait 2 extra years or more to even start just because of the backlog of other students waiting ahead of you. The schools got budgets cut so now expanding some of these high demand programs is not possible. There is a need to allow more people in many of these programs. I had to wait 3 years to get in my program because there were that many people ahead of me waiting to get in. I lost my job because policies like NAFTA put the company I worked for out of business. The workers qualified for TRA trade readjustment training because of this. Problem was you couldn't utilize it for most programs because the 2 year wait disqualified them from being an acceptable approved program to retrain in. TRA only allows programs you can complete in 2 yr max and must be full time student.
Sara Andrea-Neill October 12, 2011 at 05:53 PM
cont.... Many other programs don't even allow people to get on the wait list because there are 400+ waiting already. It's disheartening to know that you ca not get the training you need after losing your job because the schools cannot accommodate you due to the enormous numbers of other dislocated workers trying to do the same and their limited budgets. Expanding high demand programs was the main focus of this bill... the companies not having skilled workers was a small part of it but I think this point got driven harder than the need of the dislocated worker who has to wait to even get in a training program. The extra funding would be used to hire more teachers and expand high demand programs. these are programs that provide higher wage jobs than most. it's a shame the issue was distorted to be all about companies needing workers with the rt training and wanting the state to pay to train them... not the purpose
GearHead October 27, 2011 at 09:06 PM
If Mason and Larson are so concerned about funding tech schools, why don't they focus on rooting out decades of waste, fraud and abuse out of those organizations, and keep their hands out of other peoples pockets? Oh, yeah, that's because the Republicans would be the ones concerned with real reform and change, thanks to Reps Kerkman, Vos and others.
Bren October 27, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Toby, we already have "skin" in the game. Remember what Warren Buffett said, his secretary has a higher tax rate than he does. Elizabeth Warren (senate candidate from Massachusetts) also reminds that the rich in this country became so using resources that we all paid for (roads, rails, etc.). And the incomplete education program you suggest is not going to produce the creative, problem-solving abilities needed in today's market. Music programming is needed because it is the neural and intellectual glue that brings all of these skills together. Wisconsin was already falling behind Illinois and Minnesota before the February 2011 Koch brothers attacks on unions and education started. What's going to happen to the next generation if we don't give them the same level of care and attention we ourselves received?

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