Wisconsin

Walker Administration Defends Grant to Liberal Wisconsin Think Tank

Policy

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has channeled at least $130,000 to a liberal think tank, and the Walker administration is standing by its decision to partner with the left-wing group. After Media Trackers first exposed the flow of money from a liberal foundation through state government and ultimately to the Center On Wisconsin Strategy, a group that champions big government and more government spending, a spokesman for the state Department of Workforce Development started to provide a few answers.

The state DWD is led by Reggie Newson, who was appointed to the post by Governor Scott Walker (R).

Asked about the Walker administration’s decision to allow state government to channel money from private sources to the liberal group, John Dipko, an agency spokesman, blamed Democrat Governor Jim Doyle’s administration for the situation. “The agreement between DWD and the UW-Madison Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) dated August 2012 is part of a privately funded initiative that began in 2007 under the previous administration,” Dipko said.

But instead of expressing any concern about that ongoing relationship between the Walker administration and a liberal group that regularly attacks Walker’s free market policy proposals, Dipko went on to defend the partnership between the state and COWS for a job training program. “Given the importance of connecting workers with skills they need for jobs available today, the RISE initiative is one of many initiatives that DWD is pursuing to equip workers with skills needed to fill available jobs,” he explained.

The RISE initiative is a collaboration among several entities, including the state of Wisconsin, to provide job training to low skill workers.

Of little concern was the fact that Walker’s administration is effectively serving as a clearinghouse for a liberal group’s funding efforts. “DWD has broad authority to pursue private grant resources to help the agency carry out its mission (see for example sec. 106.09, Stats.). COWS was part of the application process for the original grant that was awarded by the Joyce Foundation in 2007,” Dipko concluded.

However the matter plays out, for now, the liberal Center On Wisconsin Strategy gets to enjoy the credibility that comes from being partnered with a state agency and enjoy the fundraising clout that such an arrangement can bring with it.