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Keeping the Focus on Jobs and the Economy

The State Legislature's focus in the 2013-14 session remains on improving our state's business climate, encouraging job growth, and growing our economy.

The 2013-14 legislative session is now in full swing, with bills being introduced, public hearings being held by legislative committees and the Governor’s budget coming to the Legislature within days.  While a wide range of topics will be considered by the State Legislature over the two-year session, our agenda remains focused on improving our state’s business climate, encouraging job growth and growing our economy.   

As we hear from job creators and small business owners across our region, three themes consistently emerge.  These suggestions include addressing our skills gap, expanding access to capital, and the need to review and streamline regulations.  A number of bills already introduced this session are an attempt to address these issues.

In an effort to improve our state’s skills gap, I am co-sponsoring legislation that seeks to promote private-public partnerships to deliver skills training to both new and current workers.  Under this proposal, job training grants would be provided on a competitive basis to encourage greater collaboration between employers, economic and workforce development agencies, and technical colleges.  I believe this approach will allow flexibility that will benefit both workers and employers and be responsive to innovation and advances in technology.

Another area of improvement suggested by job creators of all sizes – from business incubators, start-up companies, small businesses, and larger firms – is a need for improved access to capital.  Neighboring states have frequently outpaced Wisconsin in investment capital for homegrown businesses.  I was pleased with the Governor’s recent announcement that seed funding and business development programs will be included in his budget proposal.  In particular, I applaud the initiative to invest in programs that encourage start-up businesses and help entrepreneurs create jobs, given their importance to our small and rural communities.

Reducing red tape is another area receiving renewed attention.  Employers and small businesses in our area have voiced their concerns regarding the impact and financial implications of excessive regulations.  The Legislature will be reviewing rules and evaluating areas where regulations need to be modified. 

What do you think should be included in the State Legislature’s jobs agenda?  I welcome your comments and input.  Please visit my website at www.harsdorfsenate.com or call my office at 1-800-862-1092 or 608-266-7745 with your ideas.

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Scott Erlenborn February 16, 2013 at 12:43 AM
If the Governor's agenda is to grow our economy, why did the Wisconsin Department of Education go with a Minneapolis firm rather than Skyward (located in Stevens Point) for the SIS contract, even though Skyward already has 50% of Wisconsin's schools and the competitor has only 10%? In such tight bugetary times is requiring Wiscinsin schools to make such expensive and seemingly unnecessary expenditures prudent? Also, is it not reflective of the Governor's failed economic policies that two of the three counties with the lowest unemployment are the border counties of Pierce and St. Croix in which a significant number, if not possibly the majority of people, work in Democratically controlled Minnesota? It is a veritable river of vehicles that pour into Minnesota on the I-94 bridge Monday-Friday for the daily work commute.
Celeste Koeberl February 16, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Is it a skills gap or a pay gap? Free market economic theory suggests that if there really were a shortage of workers with specific skill sets then the employers seeking those workers should increase the wages they offer and the appropriately qualified workers would apply for the open positions. “If there is a shortage of something, you would expect the price of that something to increase over time,” Steve Hine, director of labor market information for the state of Minnesota, pointed out during a recent job forum in that state. “It doesn’t matter if that’s skilled welders or the market for beer.” Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/dave_zweifel/plain-talk-there-s-a-bit-of-malarkey-on-job/article_cbc855c2-7545-11e2-85f1-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz2L5M74CBo
Celeste Koeberl February 16, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Overall job creation in WI is still lagging far behind, relative to other states: WI ranked 42nd for the one-year period ending June 2012, according the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. A brighter note is that over the past two years WI has outperformed other states in manufacturing job numbers, with those up 6.2% compared to 3.9% nationally. But Bureau of Labor Statistics data show WI is 49th among the states in the growth of service sector jobs--an area of economic activity directly related to consumer spending, and which comprises about half our state's economy. Many economists and business people say our state's biggest economic problem is sharply reduced consumer demand for goods and services. People whose incomes have declined because of job losses, or pay cuts, or reduced benefits no longer have the dollars they used to spend in their local economies. It's estimated that WI already spends at least $1.53 billion per year on incentive programs to stimulate jobs and economic growth: $268 per capita, or 10 cents per dollar in the state budget. Top annual incentive costs by industry are for manufacturing, agriculture and technology. How many jobs have been added in WI as a result? How do we know those jobs would not have been added without these incentives? See: As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price, 12/1/2012, New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/us/how-local-taxpayers-bankroll-corporations.html?hp&_r=1&
Celeste Koeberl February 16, 2013 at 07:13 PM
According to the "Wisconsin Regulatory Review Report", released by Governor Walker prior to his State of the State address, survey results from small business owners do not rank state regulations as a their top challenge. Rather, small business owners ranked their top problem as decreased demand for products or services. See: Small business owners don't list complying with state regs as a top concern, 1/21/2013, Cap Times at http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/writers/jessica_vanegeren/small-business-owners-don-t-list-complying-with-state-regs/article_9405a99c-6199-11e2-9a8f-001a4bcf887a.html 2013 Wisconsin Regulatory Review Report, at http://www.thewheelerreport.com/wheeler_docs/files/0116walkerregreport_01.pdf
Scott Erlenborn February 17, 2013 at 08:29 AM
Here's a link to the article... http://www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com/viewart/20130216/WRT03/302160285/Skyward-protests-losing-contract

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