On November 29, 2012, Governor Walker held an event at Lang Furniture Manufacturing in Marshfield as part of his "Talk With Walker" tour, gathering input on budget priorities. Lyle Lang, who is a board member of Opportunity Development Centers (ODC), invited Pam Ross, the President/CEO of ODC to attend the event. After the event, Julie Lang sent Pam this picture of the Governor holding up a brown bag lunch that was packed for him by the employees of Hidden Creek Kitchens, one of ODC’s prevocational services programs that helps people with significant disabilities develop job skills.
The discussion that Governor Walker held with the participants is pictured below – Pam is seated and appears at the right hand side of the photo, looking at the governor and vice versa. Pam urged Governor Walker to gather input on disability employment policies from a very broad representation of stakeholders, stating her concern that a number of advocacy organizations that seek to eliminate facility-based work/training programs as an employment option do not represent the entire population of individuals with disabilities and their families, many of whom value and derive great benefit from working in a center-based program. Governor Walker replied that he had visited with some very capable individuals as part of the Take Your Legislator to Work initiative, and went on to say that while it was great to see them being successful, he recognized that other individuals may not have the skills needed to participate in similar workplaces. He acknowledged that people with disabilities should have an opportunity to receive employment supports that are appropriate to their needs.
The second request Pam made was for the governor to act on RFW in Action’s proposal to streamline state services by moving the long-term supported employment program under the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). Governor Walker thanked her for this suggestion and the discussion moved on to other meeting participants. Pam followed up her contact with the governor with an e-mail to Andrew Hill, a Walker aide who she approached after the meeting. In her message to Mr. Hill, Pam restated the points she made to the governor and attached a copy of RFW in Action’s paper.