A bipartisan group of 23 legislative staff of the Wisconsin Assembly completed a certificate in public affairs in June. The La Follette School of Public Affairs offered the professional development course in partnership with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington), Assembly Democratic Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) (MPA, ’01), and the UW-Madison Chancellor’s Office.
“Our nonpartisan collaboration with the Assembly reflects the La Follette School's deep commitment to the Wisconsin Idea,” said La Follette School Director and Professor Susan Yackee.
Participants developed skills in researching and analyzing public policy and understanding public management. Eight La Follette faculty and affiliate faculty covered a range of topics, including policy analysis, how to be an effective research consumer, social policy, tax and finance, corrections, performance management, and rulemaking.
The four-day course required 24 in-class hours and 10 outside-class project hours. Participants completed two assignments: a policy analysis on a topic of their choice and a visualization of data supporting their policy issue.
“This program offers legislative staff a deeper understanding of the policy areas they regularly address in their job,” Yackee said. “They also get a chance to practice and get feedback on important, policy-relevant skills.”
A similar course was offered in 2014, and the university and Assembly were eager to offer it again.
“It’s great that we have continued the partnership with the La Follette School and university to provide this professional development to Assembly staff,” said Speaker Vos. “This program has proven to be a worthwhile experience. It has helped staff to not only gain knowledge, but also work in a bipartisan manner on finding solutions, which is good for the entire institution.”
“The Wisconsin State Assembly is grateful for the opportunity to offer public policy and management development experiences to our staff,” said Assembly Democratic Leader Hintz. “Having obtained an MPA myself, I understand the importance of quality research and analysis in creating legislation that best serves the people of Wisconsin. I thank the La Follette School for their dedication in providing this course and allowing staff to collaborate in bipartisan legislative efforts.”
La Follette School faculty and affiliates who served as instructors were Michael Collins, Cecelia Klingele, Don Moynihan, Rourke O'Brien, Hilary Shager, Tim Smeeding, Dave Weimer, and Susan Yackee. Director of Legislative Outreach Heidi Normandin coordinated the course.
The Assembly splits the cost of the program with the university. The 23 participants also pay tuition to help offset the cost.