When Governor Walker took office, Wisconsin had lost nearly 150,000 jobs in the previous three years and, at the low point, unemployment topped 9 percent. Our state budget was facing a $3.6 billion deficit and our business community lacked the confidence that our state was headed in the right direction.
We made tough, but prudent, decisions and addressed the root of the problem. We enacted structural reforms to build a solid foundation for our future.
Today, the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.6 percent and new business ventures are up nearly 11 percent. Wisconsin has a $342 million budget surplus, and we have changed the opinion of our state’s employers—for the better. In 2010, a mere 10 percent of employers said our state was headed in the right direction; in 2012, 93 percent said Wisconsin is headed in the right direction.
Creating jobs is about more than just a campaign promise. It is about helping improve life for families all across our great state. Every new job is more than a statistic. It is another family with someone working in their household, which mean fewer worries about how to put meals on the table, make a mortgage payment, or put clothes on the backs of their kids.
Uncertainty with government regulations and tax policy can deter business owners from wanting to make any sort of investment in their company. Lack of investment and expansion means less jobs being created, leaving more and more households with a family member out of work.
What we have done over the past two years has been to create a sense of certainty for the business community by reducing the overall tax burden in the state, signing into law a budget rated credit positive by Moody’s, passing aggressive tort reform legislation, and creating a state agency with the sole focus of economic development. For the first time in state history, we put money into our rainy day fund in back-to-back years. Our reforms have created certainty for job creators, giving them the confidence to hire.
These changes made our business climate friendlier. In 2010, Wisconsin ranked 41st in CEO Magazine’s Best States for Business list. After our first Jobs Session, which passed some of the most aggressive pro-jobs legislation in the country with bipartisan support, we moved up to 24th. The 17-spot leap was the largest one-year improvement of any state in the history of the rankings. In 2012, we jumped four more spots to 20thi.
Wisconsin also improved in CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business rankings. Wisconsin moved from 29th in 2010 to 17th in 2012, which is the highest Wisconsin has ranked since the study began in 2007ii. And the state broke back into the Top U.S. Business Climates list from Site Selection Magazine coming in at number 13 this yeariii. This was the first time since 1998 that Wisconsin was ranked among the top 25 states.
We are going to build upon those successes and create an environment which will help create jobs, attract successful businesses, grow existing businesses, and keep Wisconsin moving in the right direction.
For Additional Resources, See Below:
i Best / Worst States for Business 2012
ii CNBC - America's Top States For Business 2012
iii Competition Is Fun