Examining a Federally Funded $6 Million ‘Green Jobs’ Boondoggle in Wisconsin

Less than Two Dozen Jobs Created

MacIver News Service | January 4, 2012

[Madison, Wisc…] The problems with ‘green job’ creation and the incompetence of the federal government are both evident when analyzing how a “Stimulus” program failed to produce jobs in Wisconsin.

Other than a couple government administrators and about a dozen tech college instructors, the Recovery Act’s Green Jobs Program has not created any jobs in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin received a $6 million award for its version of the green jobs program called Sector Alliance for the Green Economy (SAGE). The stated goal is the “greening” of Wisconsin’s workforce. On paper, the US Labor Department expected the money to help place 2,120 Wisconsinites into permanent jobs.

Wisconsin shouldn’t have too much trouble accomplishing that goal because the only people allowed into SAGE already have jobs. The program works exclusively with the apprenticeship program, and in order to be an apprentice, you need to have a job.

So, at best, this ‘green jobs’ program was about turning regular old non environmentally-friendly jobs green. At worst, it was merely seen as ‘free’ money from the feds.

Interestingly, Wisconsin’s grant application for this money stated SAGE would provide the existing workforce necessary training to fit into the allegedly emerging green economy, “including many who lost their jobs due to Wisconsin’s decline in manufacturing jobs, such as auto industry losses in Rock and Kenosha counties.”

That would have fit in with the intent of the Recovery Act. In his first State of the Union Address, President Obama stated “Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90% of these jobs will be in the private sector – jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit.”

The Labor Department’s Inspector General recently completed an audit of the program and stated “The purpose and principle of the Recovery Act was ‘to assist those most impacted by the recession,’ and to expend funds ‘as quickly as possible consistent with prudent management.’”

Yet, the Inspector General also noted the purpose of the Green Jobs Program was to provide green jobs training and collect green jobs labor data. Therefore its not surprising that nationally, the $500 million program has only resulted in 1,336 people being placed in permanent jobs out of the 69,717 goal. See: What the heck is a green job anyway?

Wisconsin’s $6 million share of the program is being spent exclusively in coordination with the Bureau of Apprenticeships. The funds are being spent on green job training expenses among the trades and the tech colleges for the apprentices.

Some of the items the money is being spent on include a virtual paint booth ($65,000), a wind tower mock up ($20,000), and various laboratory equipment ($58,000). However, only $247,000 of the grant was marked for equipment.

Most of the funds were to be spent on instructors. A weatherization technician was budgeted at $400,000 over three years.

An energy auditor was planned to cost $150,000 for one year.

A wastewater treatment operator would make $120,000 for the first year.

In all $1.7 million was spent on 15 instructors, most of whom would only work for one year. It would cost another $450,000 to train the instructors.

Regardless of how one judges the merits of paying the instructors that much money, one thing is certain. These “stimulus” funds did not create the thousands of jobs that were promised, green or otherwise.