As the fall legislative session continues in Madison, I wanted to provide an update on the State Assembly's outstanding work. As Chairman of the Assembly Workforce Development and Economic …
As the fall legislative session continues in Madison, I wanted to provide an update on the State Assembly's outstanding work. As Chairman of the Assembly Workforce Development and Economic Opportunities Committee, I'm pleased to see the Assembly keeping its focus on passing legislation to help address our state's worker shortage.
During a recent public hearing, I heard from local businesses like Federal Foam Technologies in Ellsworth that the manufacturing shortage is preventing them from filling 75 open positions, which account for nearly 25% of their total workforce. Ashley Furniture also told our committee that our state must continue to develop a diverse and skilled workforce if our area is to continue to expand. That is why I co-authored a number of manufacturing education bills that received bipartisan support in the Assembly.
One of these bills will help increase the number of manufacturing and commercial truck driver teachers in our state by allowing technical schools to offer sign-on bonuses in order to recruit and retain instructors in these fields. Furthermore, the legislation will provide up to $1 million to each of our local area technical colleges to update classroom equipment, assist in the purchase of equipment, and improve facilities for advanced manufacturing instruction.
Second, to encourage our children's interest in manufacturing, the bill package also includes grants of up to $100,000 for our local high schools to upgrade their technical education equipment. Plus, grants can be awarded to multiple school districts under this bill, allowing for a more collaborative approach to improving our educational facilities. The bill also includes provisions to encourage our schools to collaborate with local businesses on future skills needs, while also ensuring that a portion of these funds are directed to rural schools, such as those in the 93rd Assembly District.
Finally, the Assembly will consider changes to the Governor's Special Session bill in order to address our state's workforce shortage. Allowing people to keep more of their hard-earned money is one of the first things we need to do to keep them working in our state. This will be accomplished by lowering middle-class income taxes and expanding childcare tax breaks. Secondly, by streamlining the licensing process, we can also attract more people to our state's workforce. This includes extending renewal periods and expanding reciprocal credentials for those in our state. Finally, the changes incorporate several provisions from legislation I authored in order to refocus our state's unemployment system to focus on assisting people in finding work.
I look forward to these bills passing the full Legislature yet this session and getting to the Governor’s desk for his signature.