Assembly Democrats strengthen resolve to create jobs, boost business in 2010
With the start of a new year, many of us are taking stock of 2009 and making resolutions to improve our lives in the months ahead. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds, spend more time with your family or get out of debt. I think it’s smart to set these goals—and admirable if you can achieve them.
Last January, my colleagues and I made resolutions, too: to balance our state’s historic budget deficit, to support workers and businesses struggling in the global economic downturn and to set Wisconsin on a path to greater opportunity and success.
These goals weren’t easy to reach.
To tackle the $6.6 billion budget shortfall, we made tough decisions, furloughing state workers and slashing agency funding across the board. Because of these sacrifices, we were able to safeguard education from the deepest cuts and protect 99 percent of Wisconsinites from hikes in their income taxes.
We also worked hard to get Wisconsin back on track economically, through targeted investments and innovative new programs. We made smart use of federal recovery dollars, securing and creating more than 50,000 jobs in the construction industry and countless more through the economic impact of building projects.
We worked quickly to extend unemployment and health care benefits for displaced workers and to approve more funding for training programs that are preparing workers for new careers.
We created $200 million worth of credits and incentives to help Wisconsin businesses keep their doors open and encourage growth. Already, we’ve seen these new measures help to bring Republic Airways to Milwaukee, creating 800 jobs, and help keep Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, creating or saving 2,400 full-time positions. Similar success stories are popping up all across Wisconsin, thanks in part to our efforts.
Wisconsin made great strides in 2009, but our challenges are not over. Here in Janesville, we are all too aware of the fact that many people are still struggling to provide for their families and that many storefronts remain empty.
So, as we look ahead, I believe the resolution we must all have is apparent: to build on our work to grow Wisconsin’s economy.
We have formed a bipartisan group of business leaders, workforce representatives and legislators with that singular focus. Wisconsin’s Partnership for a Stronger Economy is already forming ideas on which we can take action. I’m optimistic about the Partnership’s early efforts and about its potential impact in the future.
In 2010, you will see the Assembly reaffirm its resolve, over and over again, to set our state on a firm fiscal foundation with a strong business community and the nation’s top workforce. With this goal foremost in our minds, we will create new opportunities both in the year ahead and for many years to come.
Rep. Mike Sheridan D-Janesville, is speaker of the state Assembly. He can be reached at P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708; phone 1-888-947-0044; e-mail rep.sheridan@legis.Wisconsin.gov.