Kagen talks job training at Nicolet
By Kevin Boneske
Congressman Steve Kagen (D-Appleton) visited Nicolet Area Technical College Thursday to discuss job training programs with the school’s administrative staff. Kagen, who is in his second two-year term in office, also met separately with Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster.
As a member of Congress, Kagen said he believes investing tax dollars in education is “the best investment we can make.”
“We have a tremendous asset here at Nicolet,” he said. “It’s a tremendous asset because it helps people with their education, not just their original education to learn and move up, but also to get re-educated. If you’re dislocated from your job, it’s a tremendous asset.”
Nicolet staff members detailed the school’s involvement in job training programs.
When informed by Director of Protective Services Lynn Larsen about Nicolet’s plans to put together a one-week basic safety training course for people interested in working in the Great Lakes shipping industry, Kagen said, “I like the idea of more ships.”
Kagen said one way to measure an economy “is to go into a port that is close by and see the height of the piles — the taller the height, the worse the economy.”
“It’s an inverse relationship,” he said. “Things aren’t moving.”
Vice President of Instruction Jim Brown informed Kagen that Nicolet has been involved with contract training in OSHA safety.
“We have mobile trailers, so we go all over the state,” Brown said.
With Nicolet Area Technical College’s district including portions of Wisconsin’s 7th and 8th Congressional Districts, Kagen made reference to longtime 7th District Congressman Dave Obey (D-Wausau) planning to leave office after this year by asking Nicolet’s administrative staff if there is anything “I can do in my office to help you out, or your next Congresswoman, whoever she might be.”
State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) is the only announced female in the 7th Congressional District race. When asked whether he favored Lassa over the other announced Democrat in the race, Joe Reasbeck, a former college wrestler, Kagen said he hasn’t backed any candidate at this point to replace Obey.
“We do cross pollinate (in the 7th and 8th Congressional Districts),” he said. “Many of my constituents (in the 8th Congressional District) go to school here (at Nicolet College), get an education here, so Nicolet is a place I’m going to be investing our tax dollars in as much as I possibly can.”
Kagen, who has drawn opposition from several announced Republicans seeking to unseat him this fall, said he expects the change in the federal student loan program included in the health care bill passed by Congress earlier this year will lower educational costs to attend colleges and technical schools by making direct lending possible.
“This will be great for our students, great for our kids, great for our families,” he said.