WisBusiness: Workforce report looks at taxes, immigration, training to address ‘skills gap’

Former Bucyrus chief Tim Sullivan recommends overhauling the state’s tax structure, welcoming legal immigrants and reworking Wisconsin’s job training programs as part of his report to address the state’s skills gap.

Sullivan, who volunteered his services as the guv’s special consultant for business and workforce development, recommends moving the state’s tax burden away from income and property taxes and onto the sales tax. The report said it wasn’t advocating an overall tax increase and cited a study that suggested a revenue neutral shift to the sales tax would create 10,000 jobs

It also called for implementing policies that welcome legal immigrants to the state and encourage meaningful immigration reform at the national level. The report argues the state’s population isn’t growing fast enough to meet workforce needs.

Other recommendations include:

*having the UW System offer a contract to students that if they can’t complete their degree in four years through no fault of their own, the school will cover their additional tuition.

*raising tuition for technical college students who already have a four-year degree and pursue a two-year degree.

*real-time labor market information to better understand market demands and match up job seekers with employers.

Gov. Scott Walker didn’t commit to any of the proposed changes but called it a “good starting point for true reform.”

“Employers often tell of their challenges getting enough skilled workers to fill the jobs they have open,” Walker said. “We are looking to make dynamic changes in workforce development and this report is a good starting point for true reform.”

Read the report