THU AM News: Feds announce $116 million in transit funding for Wisconsin in ‘22; WEDC authorizing tax credits for new Quarra facility

— Federal officials have announced more than $20 billion in transit funding for fiscal year 2022, including about $116 million for Wisconsin.

In a media briefing, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the national figure represents 58 percent more funding than was provided in fiscal year 2021. 

“It also represents the largest transit funding allocation in American history,” he said yesterday. “These dollars will build, maintain and expand transit opportunities across the nation.” 

According to a funding breakdown from the White House, the Milwaukee area is getting over $32 million, while Madison is getting over $12 million, Appleton is getting just under $4 million, Green Bay is getting over $3 million and Kenosha is getting about $123,000. 

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, which includes part of Wisconsin, is getting over $116 million, the fact sheet shows. And the Round Lake Beach-McHenry-Grayslake area, covering parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, is getting nearly $17 million. 

A release from the U.S. Department of Transportation says the funding increases authorized under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support transit agencies purchasing new buses and railcars, addressing repair backlogs, transitioning to new transportation technologies to “address the climate crisis” and modernizing their fleets. 

“With this new funding, we can reduce congestion, we can decrease wait times for commuters ready to get home and see their kids, and of course also reduce pollution and create good-paying jobs,” Buttigieg said. 

See the allocations for states here: 

See the allocations by urbanized area here: 

— WEDC will be providing up to $350,000 in state income tax credits to Quarra Stone Company for a $17.9 million facility being built in Sun Prairie. 

The Madison-based company expects to create 34 new jobs over the next three years at the new production and executive management facility, according to a release from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The agency also says the project could indirectly create 25 more jobs in the region, based on an economic modeling study. 

The company can earn the tax credits by hitting certain benchmarks for job creation and capital investment over the three-year period, WEDC says. 

James Durham, the company’s founder and president, says the new facility will enable production of “much bigger, heavier stones, which is what our market is now asking for.” The business provides custom-cut stones for building restoration projects, the release shows. 

See the release: 

— WEDC is also providing up to $500,000 in tax credits for Summit Packaging’s expansion of its Racine facility, according to a release from state and local officials. 

The company held a groundbreaking ceremony this week for the 77,000-square-foot expansion. 

Summit Packaging can earn the state tax credits by creating at least 145 jobs and investing $20 million in capital expenditures, the release shows. 

“Summit has a track record of hiring City residents and this expansion provides new opportunities for our community to access family sustaining jobs,” Racine Mayor Cory Mason said in the release. 

See more project details: 

— The Department of Workforce Development has announced $440,000 in grants for 15 school districts for equipment purchases and job training. 

These Technical Education Equipment Grants are part of the agency’s Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative, aimed at addressing the state’s workforce concerns. According to the DWD release, the funds will help schools train up to 2,800 students per year for jobs in advanced manufacturing. 

School districts will be using the funding to purchase mills, lathes, water jet cutters, robotic arms for sorting and assembly, and other equipment, the release shows. 

“With this added equipment, we’re excited to support this next generation of workers as they prepare for rewarding careers in advanced manufacturing,” DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said. “The companies they work for, the communities they live in and the whole state will reap benefits from the skills they learn through early access to this equipment.”

See the list of awardees and equipment purchases: 

— More than half of Ashland voters favored full legalization of cannabis in a referendum that provided three options for voters.

Of the 1,587 respondents, 955 chose the first response approving full legalization, while 398 approved of medical marijuana and 234 said cannabis should remain illegal.

The question asked voters if cannabis should:

*Be legal for those 21 and older for recreational or medical use and be taxed and regulated like alcohol with “proceeds from the taxes used for education, healthcare, addiction recovery services and infrastructure”;

*”Be legal for medical purposes only and available by prescription through a medical dispensary”; or

*”Remain a criminally illegal drug as provided under current law.”

— Gov. Tony Evers has announced the funding breakdown for a $15 million effort to provide mental health services at schools throughout the state. 

The “Get Kids Ahead” initiative, which Evers highlighted during his State of the State address in February, provides funding for schools to offer a variety of mental health support. That includes direct care, trauma-based training, family assistance programs and more. 

In yesterday’s announcement, Evers said “nearly every school district” in the state will receive funding through the initiative. Every public school district in Wisconsin was eligible to opt in and get a minimum of $10,000 in funding, and the rest of the funds were allocated on a per-pupil basis, a release shows. 

Evers said the “isolating and traumatic events” of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated existing mental health challenges in the state. 

“These funds will go directly towards whatever mental health support and services our kids need so they can be successful both in and out of the classroom to help them grow, learn, and get ahead,” he said in the release. 

Of the districts that opted in, Milwaukee is getting the most funding with $966,436, according to a document from the guv’s office. Other top recipients include: Madison, with $361,660; Green Bay, $285,279; Kenosha, $272,343; Racine, $250,352; and Appleton, $201,213. 

The guv’s office said two school districts and two schools had not opted in as of Tuesday: Saint Croix Central, Union Grove J1, Milwaukee Scholars Charter School and New Leaf Prep Academy in Green Bay. 

See the release: 

See the funding breakdown for school districts: 

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