U.S. Senator Baldwin in Ladysmith, rural poverty main focus

Published: Aug. 23, 2016 at 4:11 PM CDT
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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was in Ladysmith today to talk about a huge issue in Western Wisconsin: rural poverty.

Baldwin is coauthoring a bill that would intend to fight against rural poverty in America.

The Stronger Way Act would look to match those without work with good paying jobs through transitional jobs. It would also raise earned income tax credit and expand child tax credit for those living in poverty.

Baldwin says in Rusk County alone, there are over 300 more job openings than there are unemployed people and that this bill could help close that gap.

"We are in an enviable position right now that a lot of employers have openings and certainly, there are still dislocated workers,” Senator Baldwin said. “So, when you hear that, you just want to leap forward and say let's match people seeking work with the jobs that are open, but we know it's not that easy. If was that easy, it would already be happening."

Baldwin says a big issue is how low the tax credit is for those actually working, but at a very low wage.

"There are many individuals in the workforce who are literally taxed into poverty,” Baldwin said. “They earn a minimum wage, you take out the payroll taxes, and even though they're working full-time, they're taxed into poverty. This would reverse that and ensure that in every instance, anyone that works full time is above the poverty line."

"There are plenty of jobs available at pretty good rates of pay: 10, 11, 15, 20 dollars an hour right here in Rusk County,” Ken Pearson, the Business Development Director for the Indianhead Action Agency in Ladysmith, said. “They just may need a little education."

Local Republicans say the bill will just add to the trillions of dollars of debt the U.S. is already in.

“It’s yet another, in a long line of liberal attempts to place a really nice sounding name on a bill that is going to significantly increase government spending,” Brian Westrate, Chairman of the Wisconsin 3rd District GOP, said.

Baldwin said there has been bipartisan support for bills like this in the past and are hoping the same for this legislation.