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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Issue of the Week: Where Are the Jobs?

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When Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-dominated state Legislature took office in January, they'd promised to focus like a laser beam on creating 250,000 jobs in the next four years.

So how are they doing?

Well, Walker has been touring small employers in the state—while making himself unavailable to the public—to tout small job creation measures. He's added some state funds and tax breaks for job creation. The job market has shown some improvement, part of a national trend.

But all of that is overshadowed by his decision to gut public employees' collective bargaining rights. And that, of course, will do nothing to create jobs. However, if the controversial bill is implemented as law, it will help to tamp down wages not only for public employees, but for all employees, since employers will benefit from a more-desperate workforce.

Instead of creating family-supporting jobs, Walker and his fellow Republicans are focusing all of their efforts on social issues that won't help the state's workforce or economic climate one bit. Implementing concealed carry, expanding school vouchers, enacting an onerous and expensive voter ID policy, killing off regional transit, rejecting federal funds for rail projects, pulling state support for family planning services for low-income women, refusing to defend the state's domestic partnership registry, gutting consumer protections for nursing home residents, slashing funds for public education from kindergarten to graduate school, placing the future of BadgerCare in doubt, repealing the Earned Release Program, weakening environmental protections—none of these measures will create a single job, period, although they may help Walker and Republican legislators get airtime on FOX News and raise campaign dollars from deep-pocketed conservative donors like the Koch brothers.

Walker should take a tip from his alleged hero—former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson—and steer clear of the most divisive social issues and focus instead on policy. Although we clearly did not agree with all of Thompson's ideas, he at least had the wisdom to see the benefits of family planning, BadgerCare, high-speed rail and collective bargaining. Walker, unfortunately, isn't as smart or as reasonable.

Heroes of the Week

Health Care for the Homeless Physicians, Staff and Volunteers

Health Care for the Homeless of Milwaukee (711 W. Capitol Drive) strives "to ensure that men, women and children in the greater Milwaukee area who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, will receive the quality health care, housing and supportive services they need in order to live at the highest possible level of self-sufficiency."

Founded in 1980, the nonprofit offers primary medical and dental care at multiple locations. Health Care for the Homeless of Milwaukee also provides HIV testing and case management, substance abuse services and prenatal care coordination. Staff members also provide assistance with housing issues and referrals to external resources.

For more information, or to donate much-needed basic hygiene or medical supplies, call 414-374-2400 or visit www.hchm.com.