Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not Ready to Work Job Initiative

In October of 2011 the citizens of Milwaukee County were introduced to the Biddle/Lipscomb Ready to Work Initiative.  Here’s the promise of this legislation: 
With $1 million dollars from the sale of county land they will train 1,000 Milwaukee County residents and get them "high-wage, family-supporting jobs.

Here’s a video of the press conference they held.

The legislation was passed by the County Board but was vetoed by County Executive Chris Abele who substituted the $1 million with $100,000 stating that this proposal should be a slow growth endeavor.  The board overrode the veto and reinstated the full amount.  In July of this year the board approved a contract to begin on August 1st with Big Step/WRPT to fulfill the goals of the legislation.  Supervisor David Bowen picked up the baton of this bill when Biddle left the Count Board to run for the Milwaukee Common Council.

According to published reports here is how the money would be allocated for the revolving 10 week employment plan.

1,000 individuals will initially be chosen and but only 750 will qualify to go through the following training. 
20 Hours per week (proposed pay range: $10.00 per hour)
 10 Hours per week (job shadowing on construction site)
 10 Hours per week (multi-craft construction training at WRTP/BIG STEP)

After successfully completing the training, 500 of the participants would get private sector jobs that will pay at least $15 per hour.

Supervisor Biddle also said the following concerning R2W “With additional resources from private foundations and organizations we hope to expand the number of participants and job placement opportunities. Our initial investment of $1 million will give us leverage with private partners to enhance the program to its fullest potential,” He backed that up touting the experience and relationships Big Step/WRPT had.

I had some questions when I first read the proposal, like where would the jobs come from after the training.  I was even more apprehensive when I looked at the numbers.  Here’s what I came up with.

* Participants paid $10 per hour for a 20 hour work week for a total of $200 per person.
* Each participant will be paid a total of $2,000 for the 10 week program.
* With 750 people in the program the legislation would need $1,500,000 to reach it’s goals.

From what I can see Biddle, Lipscomb and Bowen pushed legislation that was not fiscally sound or realistic.  They promised 750 people would be able to utilize the Ready to Work Initiative yet the funding isn’t there to accomplish that goal.  With $1 million dollars they would only be able to serve 500 people at the most. It makes me wonder if anyone on the County Board looks really looks at legislation that passes their desks.

So where is the legislation today?

No one is quite sure.

In the agreement between Big Step/WRPT and the County a quarterly report is supposed to be filed.  That should have been due in November if the August 1st start date was accomplished. In the Dec. 17th meeting of the Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee it was reported that Big Step/WRPT has spent $166,000 on rent, salaries and benefits along with office supplies with another $100,000 encumbered.  You can listen to this lesson of government futility here.

How many jobs have been created?  From what has been reported so far - ZERO. 

Up to $266,000 of County money spent and not one job created.  I guess that campaign donation from Big Step CEO Earl Buford to Eyon Biddle’s campaign was one heck of an investment.

One thing that is readily apparent is that the jobs goal promised by Biddle, Lipscomb and Bowen will not be met.


Anonymous said...

"From what I can see Biddle, Lipscomb and Bowen pushed legislation that was not fiscally sound or realistic." - Guy who loves Man-in-the-sky

From what I can see you didn't bother to carefully read the report you linked to. It states that the $1,000,000 is an "initial investment" and that additional funding will be secured through "public, private and philanthropic resources to ensure the Ready to Work model is sustainable."

"How many jobs have been created? From what has been reported so far - ZERO."

How you could have come to that conclusion is beyond me. I listened to the entire 28 minutes of the county board meeting and there's not one mention of job creation. Not one mention - ZERO!

But there is mention in the report of previous successes. Here's one: "Out of the 226 graduates of the TrANS program, the majority of which were minorities, WRTP/BIG STEP facilitated 223 placements—including 91 first-time apprenticeships—with an average wage of $17.01 per hour."

Hey, Guy who loves Man-in-the-sky, would your Jesus be so quick to condemn this program, or do you think that maybe he'd give them a bit of time to at least prove themselves?

yoSAMite said...

Hi Anon. Thanks for stopping by.

I did read the report and it says that the $1 million initial investment will produce 1,000 jobs. A second $1 million investment would push the job creation number to 1,500 jobs.

There was no mention of jobs created at the hearing because none were created. No one even knows how the money, up to $266,000 has been spent.

I would assume that WRTP/BIG STEP was chosen because they could hit the ground running with the legislation. That has not been the case.

I don't know how Jesus would react to this legislation nor would I assume to speak for Him.

My point is that the 3 supervisors pushed through legislation with a promise attached. There is no way they will produce 1,000 jobs with their investment. I won't back down from holding legislators at all levels from being accountable and there should also consequences to their decisions.

Thanks again and come back again.