By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The secretary of the agency in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration charged with connecting job seekers with employers resigned Monday, marking the second time in 10 months that the head of the department abruptly quit.
Walker turned to Reggie Newson, a former member of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration, to take over the Department of Workforce Development from Scott Baumbach.
Baumbach said in his resignation letter to Walker dated Monday that he felt an ethical obligation to quit so he could pursue his own ideas about better ways to connect those looking for work with employers in Wisconsin.
“Very soon, I will be starting this exciting new adventure which will allow me to connect jobseekers to jobs in ways above and beyond what I could do at DWD, and I look forward to sharing this new enterprise with you,” Baumbach said in his resignation letter.
Walker named Newson as secretary effective immediately. Newson worked for Doyle as operations director for the Department of Transportation’s southeast region from 2005 until Doyle left office in January.
Walker promoted Newson to executive secretary of DOT when he took office. In August, Newson became DWD’s deputy secretary when Baumbach was promoted from that spot to be secretary.
Baumbach was Walker’s second DWD secretary. He took over for Manny Perez who resigned in May to return to working in the private sector as well.
The Department of Workforce Development is the central state agency that works with the unemployed, helping to connect them with employers through job fairs, worker training and employment services, jobs centers, apprenticeship programs and employment-related services for people with disabilities.
The department also oversees the unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation programs and is responsible for adjudicating cases involving employment and housing discrimination and labor law.
Baumbach said in his resignation letter that as secretary he saw firsthand the “disconnect between jobseekers and employers” in Wisconsin.
“After speaking with many business leaders I believe I can do more to bridge this gap, but in a different capacity than I currently serve and now is the right time to make it happen,” he said.
Walker’s main campaign pledge was that as governor there would be 250,000 private sector jobs added under his watch by 2015.
But in Walker’s first nine months in office, just 29,300 jobs have been added, which is not on pace for him to meet his campaign pledge. The unemployment rate in September was 7.8 percent. On Friday, Walker’s own Revenue Department released a more pessimistic economic forecast that predicted that by the end of 2014 only 136,000 jobs will have been added in Wisconsin.
Baumbach said his new job, which he didn’t detail any further, together with efforts at DWD will help Walker meet his 250,000 job-creation goal. Before joining the department in January, Baumbach was an associate and partner at the Michael Best and Friedrich law firm in Milwaukee from 2001-2010.
Walker thanked Baumbach for his service and said Newson “has the qualities necessary” to lead the department.
Baumbach earned $120,038 a year. Newson will make $109,578.