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Wisconsin Support Grows for Senator Baldwin’s Legislation to Provide Federal Funding for Local Jobs Programs

Legislation would support long-term economic recovery by providing dollar-for-dollar federal funding of state jobs programs when unemployment rate is above 7%

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Local leaders, community organizations and stakeholders in Wisconsin are expressing strong support for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s legislation to support the economic recovery by immediately providing federal funding for local jobs programs. The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act calls for a bold investment in states, tribes, and local governments to create or expand employment programs through a new Social Security Act jobs program, which would finance six months of wages and benefits for public, private, or nonprofit jobs.

“Millions of Americans are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet, so we need a bold, federal investment in state and local transitional jobs programs to create job opportunities and put people back to work,” said Senator Baldwin. “As we support workers and businesses in our recovery from this economic crisis, this legislation is a stronger way forward and we must make sure it’s included the next COVID-19 relief package. We will get through this pandemic and move forward together.”

“The nation is witnessing a resurgence in positive cases and it is uncertain when the country will fully rebound from this economic devastation. I would like to express my gratitude to Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin for recognizing the crisis facing many Americans, and sponsoring the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act. Providing federal funding to states and local governments for transitional jobs programs like Compete Milwaukee will help create opportunities for the unemployed, underemployed, and those hardest impacted by COVID-19,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

“UMOS has operated subsidized employment programs which have had a significant impact in Milwaukee, and the economies of smaller communities in Wisconsin. This legislation would be highly successful in enhancing the employment and training opportunities of those workers who have experienced a disruption of their careers during these challenging times of Economic disruption,” said Lupe Martinez, CEO of UMOS, Inc. in Milwaukee.

“The impact of the coronavirus has disrupted everyone’s life in unimaginable ways, and the economic hit is almost certain to resound for years to come. As the Milwaukee Urban League, we stand upon our pillars of Education, Employment and Economic Vibrancy to advocate for the betterment of our communities, we welcome the efforts of Senator Baldwin through the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act.  In an instance, the coronavirus turned our hardest working citizens into our most vulnerable population. More specifically, African Americans have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 with the highest rates of infection and fatalities. In addition, the pandemic has amplified the African American community’s level of inequality experienced in unemployment and financial stability. The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act will steer our nation in the right direction as we continue to restore the stability of society while fighting against COVID-19 and other inequities,” said Dr. Eve M. Hall, President & CEO, Milwaukee Urban League (MUL).

“Long–term economic recovery during COVID and beyond is the issue at hand. Speaking as a lead organization in training and development of individuals who come to our work training programs from years of unemployment, underemployment, some under DOC supervision or those who are “at risk” due to lack of education and work training, find a place where leaders are willing to commit to educating and training them with skills and licensing that will earn them life sustaining career opportunities. However, funding is always a huge barrier as our programs rely heavily on grants from the government which dictates when we can start the next class, purchase needed classroom equipment or hire instructors to transform lives. Northcott fully supports Senator Baldwin’s Jobs for Economic Recovery Act. Leaders create opportunity, legislation causes action and action builds thriving communities,” said Tony Kearney, Sr., Executive Director and Franzetta Lee, Fund Development Director of Northcott Neighborhood House, Inc.

“In the recent calamity of the Covid-19 pandemic unemployed Americans are no longer generalized to a certain demographic of people.  The pandemic did not round a certain population of individuals to plague, it has attacked our economy leaving millions of Americans struggling and unemployed. The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act would provide immediate funding for local governments to expand employment opportunities and help sustain families financially in a devastating time of need.  Subsidized employment programs provide employment, and training initiatives that offer up to six months of on the job training to unemployed individuals.  The primary goal is to create opportunities for individuals who have barriers entering and sustaining employment in the regular labor market and use public funds to pay all or some of their wages.  Subsidized employment programs are designed primarily to provide short-term income support in poor economic times, and the time is now to be in position and support essential economic employment growth,” said Carla Lathan, Adult Services Associate Director at the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center in Milwaukee.

“The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act is a bold and urgently needed response to our crippled economy. It is foundational because it allows people to get back to work. It addresses the unemployment that has resulted from the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. The bill also addresses long-term structural unemployment in urban and rural areas. It will especially help workers and communities suffering from racial and ethnic discrimination in training and hiring. We call on Senators and House members to pass this essential bill as part of your next steps in moving America's economy forward,” said Julie Kerksick, Senior Policy Advocate at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.

“With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are finding themselves in double jeopardy.  Already having barriers to employment due to situations of extreme poverty, long-term unemployment, incarceration or aging out of foster care, we are seeing struggles and desperation when just a short time ago we were witnessing glimmers of hope and brighter futures through opportunities like the  Transitional Jobs Program.  The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act would help with the efforts to offer training and employment to those who have been knocked down too many times.  We support the efforts of Senators Tammy Baldwin, Ron Wyden, Chris Von Hollen and Michael Bennet to help the states reinvest in a dire labor market and give hope to the most vulnerable: the under and unemployed,” said Jeffrey Muse, Executive Director of Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program, Inc.

Background on the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act

The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act would fund state programs at a matching rate determined by economic conditions and the state’s FMAP rate. When the unemployment rate is above 7%, there will be a dollar-for-dollar federal match.

Providing immediate funding for subsidized employment programs would allow states to target individuals who have become unemployed or underemployed as a result of COVID-19, and create essential jobs to respond to the public health emergency. To protect public health, these funds could not be used to fund a position that puts workers’ health at risk. The bill also authorizes grants to nonprofit organizations to support similar programs and provides funding for technical assistance and planning.

By 2022, the bill would require programs to meet new criteria and rely on evidence-based practices to continue receiving funding. Phasing-in these requirements would ensure that states, tribes, and localities have the flexibility to quickly respond to this crisis, while ensuring strong, evidence-based programs over the long-term.

By guaranteeing funding for employment programs remains available into the future, the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act will prevent these programs from disappearing like they did after the Great Recession, and allow them to provide critical employment support as the job market improves. 

Lastly, the bill creates an employee retention tax credit based on the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for employers who retain workers hired through the program for 24 months.

Baldwin introduced this legislation with Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO) and Cory A. Booker (D-NJ). A section-by-section summary of the bill is available here.

An online version of this release is available here.