Gov. Evers announces workforce, economic development plans

During his 2023 State of the State address, Gov. Tony Evers announced more than $190 million in investments that will be included in his 2023–25 executive budget proposal to bolster Wisconsin’s workforce, including the health care, education, and clean energy sectors, as well as his plan to continue investing in small business development across the state through the successful Main Street Bounceback Grant Program.

The governor’s 2023–25 executive budget will include a $50 million investment to continue the successful Main Street Bounceback Grant Program, which will provide as many as 5,000 eligible businesses with grants up to $10,000 to help afford building repairs and improvements, lease and mortgage payments, and defray other expenses that can be a barrier to becoming a successful business. To date, the Main Street Bounceback Grant Program has helped more than 8,500 Wisconsin small businesses expand and move into vacant storefronts in communities across all 72 counties.

The governor also announced an additional $5 million investment, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), to provide technical assistance, mentorship, and educational training for Main Street Bounceback grant recipients to ensure they have the support they need to continue their success.

In addition to his investments in small business development, Evers is also proposing $100 million to continue the Workforce Innovation Grant Program that has supported 27 projects across the state in developing and implementing plans to address local and regional workforce challenges. This continued investment will focus on grants that address long-term solutions for businesses to find workers and help workers obtain family-supporting jobs.

Evers also emphasized the need for targeted workforce investments for sectors of the workforce that have been particularly challenged over the past few years, including Wisconsin’s health care, education, and clean energy workforces. As announced, the governor is proposing a historic, more than $50 million investment in Wisconsin’s health care workforce, as well as nearly $10 million to invest in expanding clean energy job training and reemployment and reducing barriers to joining the clean energy workforce.

During the address, the governor also highlighted his proposals to reinforce the education workforce and keep class sizes small, including his plan to create a pathway to get experienced educators back into the workforce by making it easier for school districts to hire retired teachers and staff. Additionally, the governor announced he will be proposing more than $20 million for recruiting, developing, and retaining teachers and student teachers.

Furthermore, Evers announced he will be proposing additional support to make child care more affordable and accessible for working families and bolster child care providers statewide, including providing investments in the Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Stabilization Payment Program and the “Partner Up!” Program.

Evers is proposing more than $340 million to provide a permanent investment in the Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Stabilization Payment Program that was created during the pandemic to support Wisconsin’s early care and education community. The Child Care Counts Program provided the financial stability needed for over 3,300 providers to stay open, recruit and retain over 22,000 qualified staff, and continue providing high-quality care for over 113,000 children statewide.

Gov. Evers is also proposing more than $22 million to support the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) innovative “Partner Up!” Program, which supports employer-child care provider partnerships and child care provider staff recruitment and retention. To date, more than 200 employers statewide are participating in the “Partner Up!” Program to help make child care more affordable and readily available for their employees.

Finally, the governor also announced he will be including his previously proposed plan to create a caregiver tax credit and expand the Child and Dependent Care Credit in his budget proposal, providing nearly $30 million in tax relief to more than 100,000 Wisconsinites.