Gov. Walker focuses on rural health care in $100M jobs package

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Governor Scott Walker was in the Chippewa Valley Monday, revealing a $100 million package to spark job growth in Wisconsin.

He made the big announcement at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

The plan would include money to build a faster system to track jobs data, would tie funding for technical schools and universities for filling high-demand jobs and would require food stamp recipients who are able and don't have dependent children to enroll in worker training programs.

A big part of the package also focuses on health care.

$23 million is being set aside for improving rural health care.

“The primary focus is on adding additional medical students through the University of Wisconsin Medical School and the Medical College of Wisconsin, to have them trained throughout rural parts of the state of Wisconsin. Our belief is, that if we train them here and plug them into residency programs here, they're going to stay here,” Gov. Walker told lawmakers and health care workers during his announcement.

Dr. Robert Peck, the Chief Medical Officer at Mayo said he's seen the problem first hand.

“We're going to be short about 100 physicians a year the next years, particularly in the rural areas. Funding in these programs to train more people that are likely to work in rural settings is critical for our state. I think it's encouraging,” Dr. Peck said.

The announcement is also promising to home-grown med students.

“I think there's obviously a funding gap that this will help address. It's difficult to train family physicians, it’s a costly endeavor. And I think that this provides an opportunity for residents to further train and hopefully will bring more residents to the state of Wisconsin,” said Aaron Zivney, a UW-La Crosse graduate and current family practice resident.

The republican Governor said he hopes a stronger health care system will encourage job creators.

“They look at what the overall businesses climate is and will my employees have quality health care? That's a key element,” Gov. Walker said.

State Senator Jennifer Shilling said she's glad Walker is taking steps to improve health care for rural families.

But democrats would have liked to see BadgerCare coverage added.

“I hope that the Governor would build on this effort to expand rural health care access by strengthening Wisconsin’s BadgerCare program, which would provide its coverage to an estimated 175,000 or more residents and save the state an estimated 75 million over the next three years,” Senator Shilling said.

Gov. Walker said the state has $20 million that it's going to use right now to help create jobs for people who are currently looking for work.

He said $96 million of the $100 million will come out of the state's general savings.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Governor Scott Walker says he wants to invest nearly $100 million to develop the state's work force and give workers skills to find jobs.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Walker's plan would include money to build a faster system to track jobs data and it would tie funding for technical schools and universities to filling high-demand jobs. It also would require food stamp recipients who are able and don't have dependent children to enroll in worker training programs.

The sweeping proposals are part of the Republican's 2013 to 2015 budget to be announced February 20th. Some proposals are being introduced as legislation Monday.

There could be bipartisan support for many ideas. But Democrats who blame part of the work force skills gap on Walker's higher education cuts likely won't be placated.

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