Growing Statewide Coalition Calls for Immediate Suspension of State Efforts to Privatize W-2
May 31, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
A week after first bringing attention to state plans to fully privatize the Wisconsin Works (W-2) program, a growing statewide coalition has joined Dane County in calling for the immediate suspension of the state’s privatization push, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.
“Leaders from across the state are coming together to echo our concerns,” said Parisi. “This privatization puts a vital service at risk that is critical to workforce development and employment in communities in Dane County and across Wisconsin.”
W-2 is a local life-line that connects families who have fallen victim to the Great Recession with employment opportunities and emergency assistance. W-2 is currently administered by 40 counties across Wisconsin, but the state is quickly advancing changes to who administers the program. Those changes may very well result in the valuable service being run by entities not familiar with local resources, and lacking established partnerships with community agencies.
The impact on Wisconsin families could be significant and include a loss of resources such as Job Centers that that provide families with access to all of the programs they may need for employment, food assistance, job fair opportunities, and more.
The statewide coalition, comprised of dozens of Wisconsin Counties, state lawmakers, The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, The Wisconsin Counties Association, and other private partners including area faith leaders, urged state leaders to work on a compromise to their proposal with those who know the program best – county administrators.
“Rather than talking with the counties who have 15 years of experience administering the W-2 program, the state chose to take a top-down approach,” said Outagamie County Health & Human Services Director Rosemary Davis. “We are very concerned that if this action is not suspended, there will be considerable negative impacts on service delivery to our clients.”
A letter to state leaders from the Wisconsin Counties Association, signed by Dane County and 31 other counties that administer W-2, detailed additional concerns with the state’s proposal, including the counties’ inability to compete for the chance to continue running W-2.
Both the aggressive deadline for bid proposals and the conditions contained within the state’s bid request make it impossible for the counties that are most knowledgeable and experienced in providing quality services to compete for the contract.
"Counties have extensive knowledge and experience in providing W-2 and related services to the citizens of this state and it would be a shame to throw that all away," said WCA Senior Legislative Associate Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf. "We believe that counties that choose to operate W-2 are in the best position to provide the services necessary to move participants in the W-2 program into meaningful and stable employment."
The coalition partners will continue to work in the weeks ahead to communicate their concerns to state leaders and work towards a meaningful compromise. The letter from the 40 W-2 counties outlines several initial changes that could be made to the state’s proposal to make the process more inclusive, deliberative, and ultimately more responsive to the needs of families across Wisconsin.
# # #