Citizen Action of Wisconsin
Press Release

Walker Economic Plan for Milwaukee Offers Nothing Up to Scale of the Problem

Like his Transform Milwaukee initiative, this plan is more hype than substance.

By - Aug 26th, 2016 12:01 pm
Governor Scott Walker introduces his Freedom and Prosperity budget proposal to the citizens of Wisconsin. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker introduces his Freedom and Prosperity budget proposal to the citizens of Wisconsin. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Milwaukee: Governor Walker unveiled his economic plan for Sherman Park and other depressed areas of Milwaukee today near the site of civil unrest two weeks ago.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin and our community allies are calling for major investments in Sherman Park and other economically distressed neighborhoods at the scale necessary to dramatically increase opportunity and reduce racial disparities in income and employment.

Rather than offering outcome and evidence based solutions that would actually address the deep economic crisis on Milwaukee’s north side, Walker is offering a grab bag of small scale initiatives and repurposed federal and state dollars which will not dramatically expand economic opportunity. Like his Transform Milwaukee initiative, this plan is more hype than substance.

Walker’s plan also does nothing to address the crisis in wages. Most of the new jobs currently being created in Milwaukee and Wisconsin do not lift families out of poverty. This low wage economy depresses spending, further damaging small business and further reducing job opportunities.

Walker’s plan also blames workers for the lack of family supporting jobs, relying on the non-evidence based assumption that additional job training will by itself cause job creation to scale. Stunningly, Walker cites a line from the movie the Field of Dreams: “If you build it they will come.”

Citizen Action released an opportunity agenda last year which details the elements of accountable economic development policy which can guarantee economic opportunity for everyone in Wisconsin.

Some of the core elements missing from Walker’s plan includes:

  • Specific outcome goals on how many community residents will land and retain family sustaining jobs.
  • Policies to raise wages or guarantee that any new jobs created will lift families out of poverty.
  • Accountability measures to hold each investment to specific outcome goals, and to reclaim money from corporations that do not create the jobs they promise, or outsource jobs out of Wisconsin.
  • Specific racial equity goals which speak to the stark gap in opportunity between people of color communities and the more prosperous part of the Milwaukee Metro area.
  • Safeguards against corporations taking state money from outsourcing other jobs, cancelling out the benefits of public investments.
  • Tracking of outcome to make sure the people who need jobs the most, low income residents from economically depressed and segregated neighborhoods, are getting their fair share of jobs which are created.

The lack of specific goals and accountability is clear in WEDC’s existing Milwaukee projects. Citizen Action of Wisconsin analyzed current WEDC funded projects in the City of Milwaukee, and based on WEDC’s own information finds that 87.5% have no specific job creation goals. In fact,  projects with no job creation goals account for 94% of WEDC spending in Milwaukee.

“Even if Governor Walker’s program was fully funded by the Legislature, I predict that in five years economic conditions will be little different in Sherman Park and other neighborhoods like it,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “If we are ever going to get serious about economic opportunity, we need to set concrete job creation and job placement goals up to the scale of the problems, and hold ourselves accountable to the outcome. Walker’s plan is more of the same, repurposed federal and state dollars designed to give the Governor public relations cover, not address the absence of economic opportunity for African Americans in Milwaukee. Sherman Park and other distressed communities are crying out for large scale solutions, not more of the same old politics.”

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7 thoughts on “Walker Economic Plan for Milwaukee Offers Nothing Up to Scale of the Problem”

  1. WashCoRepub says:

    What, Citizen Action, One Wisconsin Now, COWS, etc. etc. doesn’t like something Governor Walker is doing?? SHOCKING, I tell you. I was nearly breathless with anticipation of reading the press release.

    Citizen Action’s idea of a ‘guaranteed job’ would be a very long ditch, with one person digging, and the next person filling it in, paying $28.00/hour, funded by taxes on the upper 10%.

  2. Vincent Hanna says:

    Everyone who visits UM is so lucky to be able to read WashCoRepub’s constant Milwaukee bashing and Walker defending. I love that you mock the press release yet you took the time to read & reply to it. That is some rich irony. You are a unique snowflake.

  3. Jason says:

    My house is still under value in Glendale is this Walker’s fault, Vince Hanna’s Medicare payments are too damn high, must be Walker’s fault, Adeline, in Milwaukee can not get a better deal on her Mylan pen, must be Walker’s fault, Walker holds down tuition for college students but millenials can not pay back their student loans…damn you Scott., I found a pot hole on Green Bay and Silver spring out it must be Walker. I saw a person holding a sign on I-43 and North she appeared to be white, young and standing upright. The sign said feed me. Unemployment is at a 13 year low in Wisconsin, therefor it must be Walker’s fault. Sylville Smith is death. Smith ran from police and then turned a gun on the police. Must be Walker’s fault.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    Come on Jason it’s a press release from a progressive group. It’s not like conservatives don’t blame Obama for everything. Press releases are not to be taken seriously. Some of these organizations (and Bob Donovan) seem like they have a monthly quota to hit when you consider the frequency of the press releases.

  5. Jason says:

    Vince, I don’t blame Obama for everything. He did inherit a mild economic depression. His foreign policy is a mess but maybe there is some positives to not being the Superman of the world. I enjoy that he went to England a week before Brexit to insist that England not leave Europe. Obama is a powerful orator and would have probably one a third term due to his cult of personality with African Americans.

  6. Alene says:

    Walker has no Milwaukee plan other than to see it crash and burn. He hates dealing with people problems and avoids it at all costs.

  7. Jill says:

    Jason, it’s not unreasonable to criticize walker on this one. He did, after all, run on a platform of bringing, what? – 250,000 new jobs to Wisconsin? Why on earth wouldn’t Milwaukeeans have a right to expect that our governor would bring jobs to economically disadvantaged areas? The guy ran on a jobs platform so where are they? It’s a legitimate question.

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