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 Wisconsin Technical College System 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, surveys of area companies by the Racine County Economic Development Corporation 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.