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Democrats push back on Walker’s millennial marketing campaign

Laurel White

Wisconsin Public Radio

Democratic lawmakers are pushing back on Gov. Scott Walker's call for a multi-million-dollar ad campaign to lure millennials to Wisconsin.

Walker wants the state Legislature to approve $6.8 million for a marketing campaign aimed at combating the state's worker shortage.

The campaign will target millennials by focusing on things like cheaper homes and shorter commutes in Wisconsin, compared to urban areas in neighboring states.

But Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said in a year-end interview with Wisconsin Public Radio that he believes that money would be better spent elsewhere.

"For $7 million you could probably target some job training programs, especially for some unemployed or underemployed populations, like the African-American male population in some pockets of Milwaukee,” Hintz said.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, expressed a similar sentiment. She said the proposal belongs in "the league of the ridiculous."

"I think the governor simply needs to look at himself in the mirror about the policies he has put forward in his seven years and how that's driven away young people and creative talent in this state,” she said.

Shilling and Hintz said supporting innovation in the state’s urban areas, like investing in programs related to sustainability and public health, and doing things like allowing recent graduates to refinance their student loans would do more to bring millennials to Wisconsin.

"One of the things the governor doesn’t understand is that you can’t buy sustainable economic development and you can’t buy people to move to Wisconsin," Hintz said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, supports the marketing plan.

"One thing that Wisconsinites don’t do enough of is brag about the place that we live," Vos said. "We’re awesome at bragging about the Packers and the Badgers and the Brewers, but we need to do more about bragging about our quality of life."

The governor has said he hopes the campaign will be approved this legislative session.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. Find more WPR news on KUWS-FM 91.3 or wpr.org.

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