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Falk Calls for Measures to Assure Adequate State Funding for W-2

For more information contact:

Sharyn Wisniewski, 267-8823

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 10/29/2001

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Executive Kathleen M. Falk today called on Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Jennifer Reinert to establish a Contingency Fund and a Contingency Plan to assure funding for rising W-2 caseloads.

Dane County is now entering into its W-2 contract with DWD for the next two years.

* County Executive Falk's letter to Secretary Reinert is attached.

Attachments

October 26, 2001

Ms. Jennifer Reinert, Secretary
Department of Workforce Development
201 East Washington Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Dear Ms. Reinert:

On the eve of Dane County entering into a W-2 contract with Department of Workforce Development for the next two years, I am writing to both express a concern and invite collaboration between the state and the counties to address that concern.

Dane County's W-2 contract for 2002-2003 is less than the 2000-2001 contract period in spite of the fact that our W-2 caseloads have been rising at a rapid pace since last year. Compounding this trend are clear signs of the economy weakening, which will predictably result in higher unemployment, more difficulty placing W-2 participants into jobs and a higher demand for W-2 benefits and services. Unfortunately, this also comes at a time when the state no longer has a contingency fund to address the likely effects of economic downturns on the W-2 caseload.

We believe that a contingency fund and a contingency plan are critical to the continued success of W-2 and the strong and effective partnership between the state, counties and private W-2 providers. While the allocation for benefits that Dane County received for the next two years in combination with a transfer of funds from administration and services is sufficient to meet current caseloads, a significant increase in W-2 participants will result in a funding shortfall.

I respectfully ask you to direct your staff to work with county governments and W-2 agency staff to develop a contingency plan that includes the following:

The establishment of a contingency fund.

The creation of criteria for W-2 agencies to access that fund.

The creation of a plan that prioritizes services and supports to consumers if economic downturn occurs so that W-2 providers will have guidelines and the authority to reprioritize current funding commitments to ensure benefits are provided to consumers. This would include assurances that the state would also flex performance criteria to meet those changing priorities and changing needs.

The W-2 Contract and Implementation Committee, made up of county representatives, private agencies and state staff is an excellent group to turn to for the development of such a plan.

I have been very impressed, and grateful for, by your commitment to using partnerships to work out practical solutions to the highly challenging issues faced by the state and W-2 providers. I respectfully ask for your continued leadership and commitment on this important issue.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Falk
Dane County Executive

Cc: Charity Eleson, Director, Dane County Human Services Department
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