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Issue of the Week: Walker Killing Jobs, Then and Now

Plus Hero of the Week

Dec. 14, 2011
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It's no secret that Gov. Scott Walker has been killing jobs in Wisconsin since taking office in January. The state lost more jobs in October than any other state in the nation.

But Walker also achieved the singular feat of killing jobs even before he took office. That happened when he refused to accept $810 million in federal funds for high-speed rail that eventually would have linked Wisconsin with the rest of the Midwes.

Last week was the one-year anniversary of Walker's shortsighted, ideological rejection of federal funds.

Walker's rejection garnered him attention from FOX News and other conservative pundits, putting him on the shortlist for vice presidential—and possibly presidential—contenders.

Now Walker is facing a historic recall effort.

And his high-speed rail folly is still a huge economic blow to the state.

According to figures from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, requested by state Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee), the state is on the hook for between $65 million and $84.4 million in costs to our current rail line that would have been covered by the federal funds. More importantly, the state would have gained up to 11,000 train-related jobs in six years.

Now we're left holding the bag and not seeing any job growth from this once-in-a-generation federal investment.

Even worse? Illinois is adding jobs at a furious rate while Walker's Wisconsin is shedding them.

"We can't compete with other Midwest states if we don't upgrade our train system the way Republican governors in Michigan and Indiana are doing," Richards said in a press release. "We are falling further behind because of Walker's extremely backward policies."

The loss of high-speed rail is one reason Wisconsin lags in job growth, but Walker's historic cuts to public education and health care also make the state look like a bad bet for investors. Look for a more severe brain drain in the coming years as young, highly skilled people realize they can't launch a decent career in Wisconsin.

Not only has Walker killed high-speed rail jobs in the short term, but he's killing Wisconsin's economic progress in the years ahead.

Heroes of the Week: Grand Avenue Club Volunteers

Milwaukee's Grand Avenue Club (210 E. Michigan St.) provides adults who have experienced mental illness with assistance and opportunities to recover, integrate into society via work and education, and lead lives that are vocationally productive and socially satisfying.

A coalition of community organizations founded the Grand Avenue Club (GAC) in 1991, and since then it has offered life skills and vocational training among its many programs. Volunteers tutor GAC members academically, work alongside members in the GAC resale shop and assist staff with other functions and duties.

Readers interested in volunteering at the GAC, as well as employers seeking to hire GAC members, are encouraged to call 414-276-6474 or visit www.grandavenueclub.com.

Event of the Week: 1290 WMCS/Salvation Army Christmas Family Feast

In the spirit of the season of giving, 1290 WMCS and the Salvation Army are hosting the 22nd annual Christmas Family Feast on Christmas Day. Santa Claus will make an appearance and there will be live entertainment, dinner and gifts. It's free and all are welcome. The feast will be held 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 25, at the Frontier Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave. For more information or to volunteer, go to www.1290wmcs.com.


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