Walker pitches 'comeback' plan at Janesville plant
JANESVILLE—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker squinted into a microscope to view tiny drill bits during a campaign stop Thursday at a precision manufacturing facility in Janesville.
His micro-viewing of tiny tools came before he gave workers and visitors at the Janesville manufacturing facility Precision Micro Tool an overview of his new Wisconsin “comeback” plan.
The governor spent much of the appearance touring the 6,250-square-foot facility, chatting with the dozen workers there who produce small, precision drill pieces used in the high-tech electronics manufacturing industry.
Walker used the appearance to highlight his “Continuing Wisconsin's Comeback” plan, a new agenda the first-term governor has unfurled with just weeks left before the November election.
He faces Democratic challenger Mary Burke in a race that multiple statewide polls continue to call a dead heat.
Walker's plan, which he released this week in a 62-page document, would rely on income tax cuts and property tax freezes as well as continued increases in funding for technical colleges, and freezing university tuition rates—both moves aimed at boosting education opportunities for people who seek in-demand technical skills.
It's a plan Walker said focuses on personal income growth for employed workers and those who could boost their earnings by receiving advanced job-skills training through technical schools.
“We want everybody who wants a job to find a job,” Walker said during his speech at the facility.
Walker, who said Wednesday his first jobs were high school jobs were in a kitchen and at a fast food restaurant, cast his new plan as an alternative to focusing on minimum-wage employment. That's become a hot topic amid several state's bids to raise the minimum wage.
Walker's plan, which he said includes continued funding to boost class sections at state tech schools, would help people pull themselves out of low-earning jobs.
“I don't want to talk about the floor, I want to know where the ceiling is,” Walker said.
One linchpin in Walker's new plan would be a requirement for drug testing for able-bodied adults on public aid—those who receive unemployment insurance payments or benefits under FoodShare, which is the new model for food stamps.
That plan also would shorten the maximum length of time for those programs from 60 weeks to 42 weeks.
Critics say forced drug tests for those receiving state-funded welfare and job placement services would stigmatize people. Other critics argue the practice could set a precedent that bleeds over into other subsidized services such as Medicare and social security.
Walker said he's not sure how the state would pay for the testing, and he expects any bill pushing it would face a legal challenge.
He argues the plan isn't about finding ways to push people out of welfare. He said the state should spend to help people cultivate job skills and find jobs, but the state also needs to make sure those people can be successful in the workforce.
“We know employers who, literally every week, sometimes every day, say you're dead on right, we'd hire people in a heartbeat if they have basic employability skills, and they can pass a drug test.”
He said the plan for drug testing along with jobs skills tests in training would push people off the ranks unemployment programs “in droves.”