Governor reiterates state of stateWe are moving Wisconsin forward. Today, our state has a $419 million dollar budget surplus, property taxes on a median valued home went down in each of the last two years, and the unemployment rate is 6.6 percent. Things are getting better in the Badger state.
By: By Gov. Scott Walker, Superior Telegram
We are moving Wisconsin forward.
Today, our state has a $419 million dollar budget surplus, property taxes on a median valued home went down in each of the last two years, and the unemployment rate is 6.6 percent. Things are getting better in the Badger state.
Two years ago, Wisconsin was facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit, property taxes had gone up 27 percent over the previous decade, increasing every year, and the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.
Unlike other states, we avoided significant tax increases, massive layoffs and cuts to programs like Medicaid. Instead, we put in place long-term structural reforms that helped us balance state and local government budgets for years to come. What we did was think more about the next generation than we did about the next election — and it worked.
For the first time in our state’s history, we set money aside in two consecutive years for the rainy day fund. Our bond rating is solid and our pension system is the only one in the country that is fully funded.
We made tough, but prudent, decisions to get our fiscal house in order. Today, unlike the federal government and many of our neighboring states, we have a surplus, which will allow us to invest in our priorities.
These priorities were reinforced by listening sessions I held around the state. People want us focused on how to:
• Create jobs.
• Develop the workforce.
• Transform education.
• Reform government.
• Invest in our infrastructure.
Going forward, I ask members of the state legislature to focus on these same priorities and not get caught up in other issues.
We are turning things around.
As mentioned, the unemployment rate is down to 6.6 percent. New business ventures are up nearly 11 percent. And we changed the opinion of our employers for the better. In 2010, a mere 10 percent of the employers surveyed said that our state was headed in the right direction. In 2012, 93 percent said Wisconsin was heading in the right direction.
Over the past two years, Wisconsin moved up 21 spots on Chief Executive Magazine’s ranking of the best and worst states for business. CNBC moved us up to 17 and Site Selection Magazine ranks as high as 13.
Employers feel good about our state. During the past year, Kohl’s Department Stores announced plans to create 3,000 new jobs. Plexus in Neenah is adding 350 jobs and Alliance Laundry Systems in Ripon is adding 270 jobs.
While announcements like that are great, we are just as excited about companies like Nueske’s Meat Products in Wittenberg adding 21 jobs, Poclain Hydraulics in Sturtevant adding 50 jobs, or Premium Waters in Chippewa Falls adding 21 jobs. Small business owners in particular want certainty and we have dramatically improved the business climate in our state.
Still, there is much more work to be done in the coming year. Looking forward, we hope to lower the burden on hard working taxpayers and small business owners. We will continue to streamline the regulatory process, so what we do enforce is about commons sense and not just about bureaucratic red tape. We will push investments in programs to train more skilled workers, and we want to reward excellent schools while seeking to help failing schools turn things around.
We will invest in our transportation system to get product to and from market, ensure cost-effective and reliable sources of power, improve access to high-speed internet connections, particularly in rural areas, and support our quality health care systems. All of these will be done with a focus on greater prosperity and a better quality of life for the people of Wisconsin.
Working together, we can continue to move our state forward.