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News & Press: Legislative

New 'Commute to Careers' Initiative to Address Workforce Transportation

Wednesday, August 1, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sarah Bass
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From Forbes McIntosh, Government Policy Solutions, WALA Lobbyist


Governor Scott Walker announced on July 16 the creation of the Commute to Careers program, an $8 million state initiative that will address workforce transportation barriers. The program will be funded by the Wisconsin Departments of Workforce Development (DWD) and Transportation (WisDOT).
According to Walker, the Commute to Careers program will be implemented in two phases:
  • $8 million will be invested during the current biennium - $3 million from WisDOT for transportation equipment and $5 million in grants from DWD. The DWD grants will target the transportation needs of low-income workers, with at least $1 million allocated to address the transportation needs of individuals with disabilities.
  • An additional $8 million in funding will be requested in the 2019-21 biennial budget - $3 million in WisDOT funding for additional transportation equipment and $5 million in DWD funding for continuation of the grant program.
"Many workers are facing obstacles getting to and from work, especially those who are financially challenged," DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. "The 'Commute to Careers' program will enable us to establish strong public-private partnerships to address the needs of those workers and, in the process, grow the Wisconsin economy."

The goal of the Commute to Careers program is to expand the pool of talent by connecting workers with affordable transportation to and from work or training programs. Walker says the state's low unemployment rate requires the state to become more aggressive in bringing more people into the workforce.

The goal is to have private funding replace public dollars for the program over time, establishing a long-term network of transportation options that allow both rural and urban workers to reach training and employer sites.

Additional details about the program will be included in a forthcoming Request for Proposal, which is expected to be released any day.

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