Economy & Jobs
There is no doubt that Wisconsin was hit hard by the Great Recession. Under Jim Doyle and the Democrats, Wisconsin lost an estimated 150,000 jobs between 2008 and 2010. Getting our family members and neighbors back to work has been one of my top legislative priorities. I strongly supported Governor Walker’s pro-job growth agenda and as a member of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Small Business, I was able to work with my fellow committee members on shaping legislative initiatives to spur private sector job creation. While Wisconsin is taking steps in the right direction, more work needs to be done.
When Republicans took control of the Assembly, Wisconsin was facing a $3.6 billion structural deficit which had a projected cost of $640 for every man, woman and child in the state of Wisconsin. In 2009, Jim Doyle and Legislative Democrats passed a budget that hiked taxes on Wisconsin families, property owners, businesses and private-sector employees by billions of dollars. Even with the billions in new taxes, this still was not enough to close the gap on the budgetary shortfalls that Wisconsin was facing then. The state was forced to rely upon $2.4 billion in one-time stimulus funds to balance the budget. In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn raised the state income tax by 66% and business taxes by 46%, which still left their state government in debt. The crisis Wisconsin faced was not something that we could tax our way out of. Wisconsin had a spending problem, not a taxing problem. I supported difficult, but sound financial decisions to balance the state budget without raising taxes. As a former alderman, I also supported giving local government greater flexibility to balance their own budgets. Make no mistake, fiscal challenges will continue to persist for the state of Wisconsin, but I will put the taxpayer’s interests first, not the government’s.
With gas and fuel prices on the rise, most taxpayers in Wisconsin are doing everything they can to stretch a budget, the last thing they need is the state of Wisconsin reaching deeper into their pockets. Wisconsin taxpayers deserve to keep more of their hard earned money. I supported holding the line on taxes this session and capping property taxes. Results are showing that the school tax levy is at its lowest level in six years and the increase in property taxes at the lowest level in 15 years.
As the son of two retired teachers, I cannot emphasize enough how important the role of education is to me in our society. Wisconsin’s education system has repeatedly been recognized as one of the strongest in the nation, thanks to our dedicated educators. The field of education is one that is rapidly changing to meet the demands of a competitive global economy. I believe that we need to continue to look for new and innovative ways to improve and reform our educational system to meet the current and future demands of our workforce. This past session I supported a comprehensive education reform package to improve children’s reading skills. It is a plan that works to reward good teachers. These efforts were put forward through a collaborative effort between the Governor’s office, educators, the Department of Public Instruction and local school officials.
There isn’t one solution to all of the challenges facing education today. However, I do believe that we must ensure that there is accountability for the resources and dollars that are being spent on our educational system.