WMC Proposes New Socialist Programs

The WMC (aka Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Foundation) is a conservative and very successful business lobbying group who have found ready accomplices in former Governor Scott Walker, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald over the past several years. Despite supporting the various business tax cuts provided by the state legislature, supporting the GOP’s various hits on unions, and applauding smaller state government and fewer environmental regulations…the WMC has suddenly found religion in state funded incentives to find more workers.

The WMC thinks the state should fund any number of incentives to train employees…find employees…entice employees from out of state…and provide tax credits to businesses for new benefits they think will help find employees…sounds like more corporate socialism to me.

Now providing educational opportunities to state residents to equip them to find fulfilling and gainful employment is essentially a function of state and local government. But I have felt and written about business’ responsibility to work with area educators to make sure the education mix matches the skill needs in the area. I am not all that confident that that happens very often…you seldom hear about businesses meeting with educators (or vice versa)…to get the mix right.

But some of their other proposals sound like hand outs to me…items that business could be/should be handling themselves…or where they are taking a misguided approach. Let’s review their recommendations:

Increasing public funding for efforts to bring more workers to Wisconsin. Bauer said the $6.8 million ad campaign launched under Walker was a “good start” that needs to be increased.

I am not sure why this is a function of state government. Shouldn’t WMC just be collecting funds from their association members and doing this themselves? Having WEDC or whatever involved just seems….wrong.

And does WMC do its own recruitment fairs elsewhere…you know…sorta like the former governor’s dog and pony shows in Asia? Where they visit areas losing employers and trying to recruit the idle skilled workforce? Need assembly people? Welders? I’d think I’d be hanging out around closing GM plants this week for instance.

Considering providing subsidies to businesses that have paid internships for college students. 

This is just flat out theft from the taxpayers of Wisconsin. Paid internships are no different that paid employees…payroll is an expense. If you need interns you can afford to pay interns. And if you don’t pay your interns you are just stealing from your interns…lets not make it worse by letting businesses steal from taxpayers too. If WMC itself wants to subsidize paid internships…bless their little hearts.

Enrolling more inmates in work readiness programs as they near their release date. The report also backs building more programs to connect employers with offenders who have served their sentences

OK…this one makes sense…and is something that the state should provide. Anything we can do to help inmates return to society and have gainful employment is a good thing for everyone.

Gearing efforts to attract workers to all types of people, from entry-level workers to those who are highly trained.

Yup…sounds good…go for it WMC. Not a government function. And you have an amazing tool already at your disposal…one you use everyday…doesn’t require a new program or new incentive or government help. Just pay better wages, provide better benefits, and improve working conditions…all the things that the Trump Tax Cut promised us…and you’d have to turn down applicants from Wisconsin and every other state in the nation.

Making youth apprenticeships available to students in seventh grade and above. Now, the apprenticeships are available for high school juniors and seniors. Walker touted the expansion of the program to middle-schoolers in his campaign last year.

What? You want to put 12 and 13 and 14 year olds in apprenticeships? We have laws against putting young people in hazardous work situations. We have laws restricting child labor. I think maintaining apprenticeships for juniors and seniors is just fine.

Establishing more career counselors in middle schools and high schools.

Bravo!!! Great idea. Now get Madison to fund it. I doubt that many school systems would resist a program like this if it got funded out of Madison or WMC itself. But I would recommend that WMC also support Madison increasing their taxes to help pay for the additional educational opportunities they are recommending. We’ve seen that local school systems across the state are already strapped. New programs are going to require new funds.

Providing more transportation, housing and child care for workers so they can more easily advance their careers. 

Again…Bravo! But again these programs cost money. Either WMC needs to provide these items or needs to get the state to tax them to cover these items. Again…new programs are going to require new funds. As to transportation, WMC needs to convince Madison to drop their anti-public transportation bias. There are a lot of people living in Milwaukee who could fill the labor shortages in surrounding counties if there was affordable and convenient public transportation available. Really!

Expanding efforts to make Wisconsin more welcoming to immigrants.

Whoa…I don’t think this one even needs an explanation.

In the article, but not one of their bullet points is this want from the state:

The group wants state officials to consider providing financial incentives for high-demand workers. Those could come in the form of tax credits or programs aimed at reducing college debt, Bauer ( Kurt Bauer, the president and CEO of WMC and chairman of its foundation ) said. 

The state should provide financial incentives? NO! That’s a function of business. If you are in a competitive market for labor, as I said above, provide better wages, benefits and conditions and your problem is solved. There are already businesses who offer their own programs to pay down student debt. Examine them…copy them…promote them…you’ll get the employees you need.

Concerned about student debt? Pay your taxes…get Madison to use the money to increase their support of the University of Wisconsin system and keep education costs down. Lower costs will mean lower loans. State support of UW has reached record lows in the last decade. (And I am sure WMC is aware of that)

The State of Wisconsin is here to provide a safe and stable environment for state businesses. Good infrastructure. An educated labor force. Clean air, clean water. Recreational opportunities. Recruiting, retaining, and maintaining the workforce isn’t a government role…that is up to business. The successful businesses will be those whose leadership has the acumen to build and retain their workforce. Business needs to get their payroll hand out of the taxpayer’s pocket.


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