Scott Walker on Budget & Economy
The Wisconsin Comeback is working. There are now 7,600 more private sector jobs in Wisconsin than there were before the recession. The unemployment rate that peaked at 9.2% in January of 2010 is now down to 5.2%. Trends show it will continue to drop this year. Budget reforms over the past four years reduced the burden on the hard-working taxpayers of this state by $2 billion.
Our Blueprint for Prosperity will put more than $800 million back into the hands of the hard-working taxpayers all across the state through tax cuts and withholding changes. Once passed, the total tax relief provided since I took office will be roughly $2 billion.
My explanation was simple. The "free" money from Washington wasn't free. The stimulus was a classic bait-and-switch. Once the highways were built and social service caseloads had increased, the stimulus funds would disappear and Wisconsin taxpayers would be left with the new to maintain the new roads and services. Moreover, the stimulus was also a bait-and-switch on employment. While stimulus spending might create a few construction jobs in the short term, when the federal money disappeard, so would the jobs.
WALKER: Clearly, Wisconsin faces a major challenge. We're going to push a growth agenda. It's about our focus in creating 250,000 jobs. The states that have lowered the cost of doing business, by easing their tax burden, easing their regulatory and litigation burden, gets you not only more job growth in the past couple of years, they've actually seen greater revenues coming in as more people are working. So part of our agenda is to cut the costs of doing business and getting more people working. On top of that, it's clear we're going to have to reduce state spending. To me, one of the prime examples is we can't have the public employees being the have's and the taxpayers who foot the bill being the have-nots. So I'm going to ask more of public employees, simple things like asking state workers to make the employee contributions to the pension system, 5%, exactly what the national average is.
Walker framed his budget bill as a bold but necessary action taken to get the state's finances in order and pointed to a $154 million surplus and the addition of 23,000 jobs this year as evidence his reforms had already produced results. "The mayor has said repeatedly throughout the primary he wants go to back and restore collective bargaining," Walker noted.
Barrett acknowledged as governor he would restore collective bargaining rights, but pushed back on the assertion that he would be a pawn of the unions. "The difference is I'll allow them to be at the table. He doesn't even want to have a conversation with them. They know that I'm not a pushover, but the difference is I respect them to be at the table," he said.
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