Tamarine Cornelius
Wisconsin Budget

Trump Budget Will Hurt State Workers

Yet his campaign promised new opportunities for workers.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Jun 20th, 2017 10:19 am
Donald Trump. Photo from whitehouse.gov.

Donald Trump. Photo from whitehouse.gov.

President Trump visited the Milwaukee area recently, tweeting that he was “heading to the Great State of Wisconsin to talk about “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” Expanding opportunities for workers and developing the state’s workforce should be a top priority for policymakers at both the state and federal levels, but President Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t match his actions on this issue. His proposed budget makes deep cuts to the federal resources that Wisconsin uses to develop the state’s skilled and work-ready labor force.

Trump Jobs Tweet.

Trump Jobs Tweet.

In his visit to Waukesha County Technical College, President Trump emphasized the importance of developing a skilled workforce, declaring that “America must not only teach, but celebrate skilled labor.” But the 2018 budget he proposed would deeply cut federal funding for programs and services that states deliver that are critical for the development of a healthy, well-educated workforce – programs like Medicaid, which helps people with low incomes see a doctor when they need one, and SNAP (previously known as food stamps), which helps people with low incomes put food on the table. Many Wisconsin workers who work for low wages rely on Medicaid and SNAP to make ends meet. Deep cuts to those programs, and the resulting reduction in services, could destabilize those households, making workers more likely to miss time from work or not reach their full productivity.

Other budget cuts President Trump wants to make would make it harder for Wisconsin to connect employers with potential employees, and to ensure that there are enough skilled workers to fill job openings in high-demand fields. President Trump wants to make deep cuts in the amount of employment and training resources distributed to states through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). His budget would result in a $20 million reduction in federal resources distributed to Wisconsin for the purposes of strengthening the workforce, or a 40% reduction in Wisconsin’s federal formula grant to provide employment and training services for adults, dislocated workers, and youth, and other employment services.

Wisconsin uses most of the WIOA resources it receives to fund eleven local workforce investment boards across the state, which address local workforce needs, particularly in the areas of manufacturing, health care, information technology, and transportation. Here are examples of initiatives planned by local workforce boards, partially underwritten by the funds President Trump has threatened to cut. Descriptions are from the Wisconsin Workforce Development Association website:

  • The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board will develop events to expose youth to manufacturing careers with local tours of manufacturing facilities.
  • The Workforce Development Board of South Central WI and AGC of Wisconsin and the area Building Trades Council will develop a 5-month campaign to expose students, counselors, teachers and parents in 16 school districts to high-growth high-wage careers available in the construction trades and through apprenticeships.
  • The North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board will work with automobile and diesel credentialing entities and local education institutions to design training curriculum for incumbent workers.  A task force will be created to develop the curriculum and identify funding opportunities for training.
  • The Southeast WI Workforce Development Board is partnering with the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Board and Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB), employers, and technical colleges to convene employers to identify and inventory skill and hiring needs of IT and logistics employers, create an inventory of industry recognized certifications, and develop a matrix and career pathway(s) in the identified occupations.

There’s no doubt that Wisconsin would benefit from a focus on “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.” We need to make sure that Wisconsin has a solid supply of jobs that pay family-supporting wages, and that the Wisconsin workforce has the skills to meet employer needs. To make that happen, policymakers need to make investments in education, health, and job training, using both federal and state resources. Although Trump’s tweets stress the importance of jobs, the budget he has proposed would make it harder for what he calls “the Great State of Wisconsin” to build a workforce that meets the needs of tomorrow’s economy.

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