RACINE — A new law could get jobless people in Racine and other high-unemployment areas working by rewarding those who employ them.
Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday signed into law Senate Bill 333, the Transitional Jobs Program, in a ceremony at Burlington Graphic Systems, 2600 Chicory Road. The law provides subsidies to employers for hiring unemployed people in impoverished households.
Co-authored by state Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, the Transitional Jobs Program expands the Transform Milwaukee jobs program to other state areas with high unemployment and poverty.
The new program will likely be available in Racine, among other state locations, Weatherston stated.
Walker said the bill passed both houses with “overwhelming bipartisan support” and called it “a little bit more incentive for an employer to take that chance” of hiring the unemployed and perhaps unskilled.
The Transitional Jobs Program and Transform Milwaukee Jobs program will operate under the same rules and eligibility requirements, Weatherston stated.
“The unemployed will now have a better chance to get back into the workforce by signing up for the Transitional Jobs Program,” he said. “The program offers a hand up to those looking to find a job, not a handout.”
According to the state Department of Children and Families website, the $34 million Transitional Jobs Demonstration Project was created in the 2009-11 biennial budget act with federal stimulus funds. It ended June 30.
The state continued the program for Milwaukee, and the newly signed bill now extends its reach statewide.
Weatherston said the Department of Children and Families has various funding sources but also expects that by putting people to work and getting them off welfare, there will be some transference of money already in the state budget.
About 4,000 people were hired in Milwaukee’s program and about 3,000 remained employed beyond the subsidized period, Weatherston said.
“Remember your first job interview ... and they asked, ‘What kind of experience do you have?’ ” he said. “Well, this is just to get you over that first hurdle.”
ABOUT THE LAW
The Transitional Jobs Program will allow reimbursement to employers for up to six months of wages for new hires, according to state Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, the bill’s co-author.
Applicants must be ages 18-24, unemployed and living in a household below poverty level. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families will set the reimbursement amount, but it will be at least minimum wage, Weatherston said.
The bill’s other author was state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.