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We also need to train our students for the jobs that exist in this community. Public-private partnerships that work with our schools and area businesses need to be supported and expanded with legislation.
Along with making healthcare accessible and affordable and funding our public schools, bringing family supporting jobs to NW Wisconsin is one of the three main reasons I am running to represent Assembly District 28 in Madison. In my volunteer work over the last 15 years, I have met too many families who work full time, yet struggle to provide the basics for their families. No one who works full time should live in poverty. Unemployment rates are low, but our district, especially Burnett County, lags behind. Wages are stagnant. Workers go across the river for better pay in Minnesota. Others work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Statewide, we need to address the wage issue. I was initially leery of “$15 an Hour Minimum Wage” proposals, unsure that this would work in rural areas, and concerned about the effect that a wage increase would have on small businesses. But I have seen the time frame that recent proposed legislation would enact, phasing in gradual increases over the next 5 years, and I think that this would be workable, giving the economy time to expand, to allow small businesses to grow as area workers have more money to put into our local economy. Tax credits or other mechanisms to protect small businesses, especially farms, could still be an option.
Attracting jobs doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Employers want to locate where they can find quality employees, and employees want to live places with adequate housing, good schools, affordable quality childcare, and cultural and outdoor activities. We need to ensure these needs are met in order to attract employers, and to keep our talented workers here in the 28th District.
WI lags behind every other state in small business start ups. This is one area of potential growth that we can foster with legislation. We need provide the tools entrepreneurs need to succeed, including good internet and cellular service. While funding for broadband has been increasing, MN has spent 84 million dollars over the past 4 years, while WI spent less than 20 million. * My husband and I own a small internet-based business that began in our basement 20 years ago, and now employs 17 people, in part because of the quality service from our particular rural internet service provider.
We also need to train our students for the jobs that exist in this community. Public-private partnerships that work with our schools and area businesses need to be supported and expanded with legislation. Our young people need training opportunities close to home. Students need adequate career guidance, to help them realize that a 4 year degree is far from the only path to a well paying career. Skilled tech and manufacturing jobs, skilled trades, Healthcare and jobs in the Renewable Energy sector need to be encouraged, with internships, apprenticeships, and training in both the classroom and on the job. I would support legislation to increase this type of training.
Finally, given the costs involved in hiring and training new employees, businesses want to retain workers. One way to do this is with affordable healthcare. I am proposing opening up Badgercare as a buy-in option to all, taking the federal Medicaid expansion money, and creating small business insurance exchanges to allow smaller businesses to afford to provide healthcare to their workers, and getting rid of “zip code discrimination” that allows insurers to charge higher rates in areas like ours (I discovered that my insurance would be hundreds of dollars a month cheaper if I moved to Madison.)
Here in the 28th District, we offer an attractive lifestyle, close proximity to the Twin Cities, Eau Claire and the Twin Ports. I will work to secure funding in Madison to grow our economy, to reach our full potential here in Northwest Wisconsin.