When Governor Walker took office, Wisconsin had lost nearly 134,000 private sector jobs in the previous four years, and at the low point, unemployment topped out 9.2 percent. Our state budget was facing a $3.6 billion deficit, our business community lacked the confidence that our state was headed in the right direction, and our friends and neighbors needed to find work to provide for themselves and their families.
We made tough, but prudent, decisions and addressed the root of the problem. As a result, we are in a great position to invest in our schools, provide income tax relief to all income taxpayers, and focus on worker training to make sure people have the necessary skills for the jobs of today.
Because of our tough decisions, we built a $670 million budget surplus. In the 2013-15 budget, there is a near $1 billion in tax relief for Wisconsin families and businesses. This is the largest income tax cut in 14 years, and the largest income tax rate reductions go to those making between $15,000 and $50,000. Nearly 80 percent of the tax cut goes to people who fit President Obama’s definition of the middle class. Hardworking Wisconsin families should be able to keep more of the money they earn, so they can build a bright future of their choosing for their children and grandchildren.
Today, the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.5 percent, new business formations are at pre-recession levels and climbing, 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 2013, 94 percent said Wisconsin is headed in the right direction.
Our goal is to help our workers become among the most prosperous and innovative in the country. Governor Walker invested over $100 million in workforce development aimed at equipping workers with the skills they need to find jobs in the modern workforce.
We need to train workers in the career fields of our future. The ‘new’ job growth forecast between 2012 and 2015 in skilled trades, manufacturing, and construction is estimated to be 63,600, which doesn’t include the replacement of retiring workers. This is a growing concern for our employers and a growing problem for our state.
Targeted investments in the Wisconsin Technical College System and traditional K-12 education will ensure our citizens have the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
Every child—regardless of their zip code—should have access to a great education; it is a moral imperative. Providing our children with a quality education will equip them with the necessary skills to thrive later in life.
Governor Walker is making significant investments aimed at transforming education to equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. Because of our tough, but prudent, decisions we are now able to invest in our K-12 education system. The 2013-15 budget makes a $322 million investment in new state funds into Wisconsin’s public schools.
Due to our reforms, Wisconsin can now put the best and the brightest in our classrooms—and we can pay them to stay there. School districts can now hire based on merit and pay based on performance. We finally have a way to recognize our exceptional teachers and reward them for the good work they do for our children. We need to reward and replicate success and provide tools to struggling schools to help them improve. Our goal is to help each school excel, so all of our children have access to a world-class education.
Governor Walker’s focus is simple – more prosperity, better performance, and true independence for all citizens across the state. We need to be putting people on a path towards greater independence through successful worker training to those receiving food stamps and increasing individual control of personal health care choices, while maintaining a vital safety net for our state’s neediest.
Governor Walker believes in moderation when it comes to government spending. Money left in the hands of families is spent more wisely than government could spend it for them. Keeping more money in the hands of families and achieving more efficient government are vital steps toward achieving the goals of a higher standard of living for our state residents and greater overall economic growth.
Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure is a part of its heritage as the dairy state. Many of the state’s industries, from manufacturing to tourism, from timber to grain, depend on a healthy transportation system, including roads, bridges, freight rail, ports, and airports.
Businesses across the state depend on a strong transportation backbone. The tourism industry relies on our transportation system to bring people to visit our state’s many tourist destinations. In addition, manufacturing, dairy, and many other industries need a quality transportation system to get product to and from markets efficiently, so they can maintain their competitive edge.