State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) and Senate Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) have a jobs plan that centers on stronger funding of the state’s technical college system.
Mason wants to restore $34 million cut from Wisconsin Technical Colleges in the last biennial budget. His bill would also allocate another $36 million in grant money for help retrain displaced workers. The lawmakers say, under the legislation, at least 35,000 workers would be trained.
At a news conference, technical college officials and students spoke about the lack of resources available as enrollment is spiking.
“In my 18 years in higher education I have never witnessed demand that we are experiencing now,” said Kevin McCray, a counselor at Gateway Technical College in Racine.
Tech college students, who were retraining for a second career, said there are programs with waiting lists as long as six years because schools can’t afford instructors.
The plan would be funded by a 1 percent income tax hike for those making a $1 million a year.
Mason unsuccessfully pushed a similar idea last session when his fellow Democrats were in control. He believes the jobs initiative has a better chance now as unemployment numbers have grown, along with the recent slash in tech college funding.