Racine, WI
Cloudy / Wind
5:49 am7:47 pm CDT
55°F / 48°F
70°F / 46°F
66°F / 54°F

Local News

WI voice: Economic progress noticeable when connecting policy dots


Mike Moen, Producer

Depending on who you ask, the economy is on a solid path to improvement or is a drag on working families.

A Wisconsin educator said he is seeing positive economic trends and he credits federal policy.

John Havlicek has been teaching in La Crosse for a quarter-century and pointed out it once was a destination district. But he feels no public school system has the distinction anymore, as administrators scramble to attract teachers.

Havlicek, also a union leader, noted he has seen how the Biden administration’s efforts on student loan forgiveness are having a positive impact on his colleagues. One way is through homeownership, which he acknowledged is out of reach for many in the field.

“That is not conducive to getting the best and the brightest into our classrooms,” Havlicek argued. “The student loan forgiveness then is a huge deal because that two, three, four, five hundred dollars a month would be freed up for folks to spend elsewhere on something like a house.”

He wants policymakers to get even more creative, suggesting a federal match to get states to boost education spending. Havlicek pointed out new federal investments in infrastructure and clean energy have helped local universities and hospitals expand. Critics of the moves said they helped fuel recent bouts of inflation.

Havlicek emphasized jobs tied to public works projects in his area are strengthening public unions, after Wisconsin Republicans have tried to weaken them in recent decades. It includes the repeal of state prevailing-wage laws. He stressed workers now are benefiting from labor standards and training included in policies like the Inflation Reduction Act.

“These are high-paying jobs and when we couple that with the (local) technical college, these folks can get their training, and they can raise families, they, you know, buy their groceries, they go out for dinner,” Havlicek outlined.

Immigration is a thorny topic on the campaign trail but Havlicek underscored it is important to have new career pathways as La Crosse’s population becomes more diverse. La Crosse has seen a nearly 70% increase in Latino residents since 2010.

This story is republished from Public News Service under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.