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Hope for future needs investment

It's one of the best feelings in the world. There's nothing quite like holding your newborn grandchild in your arms for the first time. Looking into that young face, knowing you are going to do everything you can to make sure that child grows up as happy and healthy as possible.

I've been blessed with five grandchildren and was lucky enough to have the time to visit my daughter and son-in-law and hold my newest granddaughter, Eleanor, who is just 2 weeks old last week. I remember holding my daughter when she was first born. I was filled with similar feelings of hope, joy and love that day, but somehow holding my granddaughter was even more fulfilling.

Having a child is a bet on the future. Bringing a new life into the world is a statement that you believe that that tomorrow will be a better day, that there are things to learn, experiences to share, that love and hard work will pay off. Seeing young people taking the chance, starting or expanding their families brings great joy to their families and friends. It also brings great joy to the community. If you have any doubt, just watch the next time you're in the checkout line with a newborn. People's faces light up, moods brighten, grown men are oftentimes reduced to cooing and cawing.

It may be an overused phrase, but children are our future. That's one reason why I was concerned to learn that our neighbors to the west are deciding to have children at a considerably higher rate than here in Wisconsin.

In 2010, nearly 400,000 more people called our state home than Minnesota. But something has shifted. By 2017 our population advantage over Minnesota had dropped significantly. According to the Census Bureau, more than 70,000 more people moved into Minnesota than moved out between 2010 and 2017. Here in Wisconsin, 17,000 more people left than moved in.

And most alarming of all, there were 15,000 fewer births in Wisconsin than Minnesota over that time — even though we began with almost 400,000 more people. I hope this doesn't mean that people across the border are more optimistic about the future than we are. I know that the desire for a brighter future is strong here in Northwestern Wisconsin. I see it — and work for it — every day and in every community across the 25th Senate District.

Our state is still a great place to call home. Our people are still second to none and there is still every reason to believe we can build a better future. Rather than wasting millions on ad campaigns unlikely to convince people to move to Wisconsin, we'd be far better off building on the strong foundation we've been given.

We need to put Wisconsin roads, Wisconsin schools and Wisconsin jobs first. We owe it to those who worked so hard before us, but more importantly to the generation we're welcoming to our state — a generation I hope to see calling Wisconsin their first and lasting home in greater numbers in the years to come.

Janet Bewley, D-Delta, represents the 25th District in the Wisconsin Senate.

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