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Jobs drive Walker’s first proposals

By James Briggs

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker acknowledges someone in the crowd as he speaks at an inauguration ceremony in the rotunda of the state Capitol on Monday in Madison. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday released drafts of five bills meant to create jobs. The legislation won’t directly help contractors, but industry lobbyists said any pro-business legislation would be a productive first step.

“There’s good stuff in there, and we’re supportive,” said Jim Boullion, director of government affairs for the Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin Inc.

The legislation would reform job-related lawsuits, offer tax credits to moving businesses, expand the economic development tax credit from $75 million to $100 million and require a two-thirds supermajority for the state Assembly and Senate to approve tax increases. Another bill would focus on the affordability of health savings accounts.

These are changes that would promote job growth for all industries, Walker said.

“I believe it sends a clear message to businesses that tax increases are off the table,” Walker said Tuesday, just before meeting with his cabinet for the first time.

Besides the announced bills, though, Walker promised regulatory reform — a key issue to construction companies and trade groups — also will be on the table soon. Construction groups want fewer licensing requirements and restrictions on the work they perform.

Walker’s pledge to ease Wisconsin’s regulatory climate has drawn criticism from some Democrats, most notably Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, who has said he’s concerned about worker safety and the environment.

Barca also has questioned whether regulatory reform should be a priority for sparking employment growth.

Walker insisted it would help employers trying to add jobs.

“The more we can show them that things are going to be easier to do business in the state in the future,” he said, “the more I think they take that leap of faith and start putting people to work, even in the next few weeks.”

The special session should mark the beginning of a promising year for the industry, said John Mielke, vice president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin Inc.

“What I’m anticipating might be a two-stage process,” Mielke said. “I think you’ll get the shell in the special session and the filling in the budget bill (later this year). That’s probably the way it has to be done.”

In the meantime, Mielke, like Boullion, said he’s looking forward to sharing ideas with the Walker administration about how to increase construction work. Mielke also said he thinks Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch will be heavily involved in such discussions.

“If I were reading the tea leaves — and that’s all I’m doing — I would expect Rebecca Kleefisch will want to play a role connected to the economy and job growth,” Mielke said.

“That’s what she campaigned on, and I think there’s a lot of leeway in the lieutenant governor’s position to identify priorities.”

Walker administration spokesman Cullen Werwie did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kleefisch’s role.

While Walker has asked the Legislature to pass bills related to his jobs plan by February, he said Tuesday that just having the bills in writing sends a message to businesses that it’s time to start hiring.

“I would argue that the most immediate impact is not just going to be from (legislation),” Walker said. “It’s going to be from the reaction of employers who see a change.”

8 comments

  1. Finally, we have a man in the Governor’s office instead of a corrupt boy.
    We now have someone who can make long term decisions that help us ALL, not just certain segments that seem to think that they are the only one’s that need jobs…such as the unions and construction industry.
    Stop being selfish and narcissistic democrats and start thinking like an adult……and jobs will come to you because business will once again be attracted to coming to Wisconsin. Doyle was hostile to business and the people that voted for him this past 2 years should be embarrassed.

  2. Scott Walker’s unimaginably amateurish opposition to the federal rail grant has labeled Wisconsin across the nation – indeed, across the civilized world – as an anti-intellectual, anti-business backwater hostile to high-tech, highly-paid professionals. He was swept into office on a wave of tea-party-type extremist emotion, and the sad legacy of the one term he will serve will long outlast his childish politics-of-revenge tenure. Scott Walker’s election proves that the state slogan of ‘Forward’ is now just a two-syllable buzzword.

  3. “If I were reading the tea leaves — and that’s all I’m doing — I would expect Rebecca Kleefisch will want to play a role connected to the economy and job growth,” Mielke said.

    *Bangs head against the wall*

    WOW. I’ve met this broad… the term “bimbo” comes to mind. And she’s the answer to helping the construction industry? Again… WOW.

  4. WOW
    Abe, You can call a girl names and you dont even have the brass to do it in person. No real valid point to debate huh? So call The LT Gov names and run back to troll land and hide behind your mamas skirt. Dont forget to kick the cat when you get home tonight.

  5. Wow, Ms. Jeffries, why don’t you give Governor Walker and the Republicans a chance to put their thoughts into action and judge by the results. I fired people like you because their attitudes like yours is “why try it, it won’t work anyway”. Not only were they (and you) unwilling to try, they (and you) are determined to keep it from working to prove you are right.

    As far as the train issue, I back Walkers decision 1000%. Your comments remind me of the old saw “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up”. What part of the facts don’t you understand? The fact that the estimates of operating the system were going to cost the State of Wisconsin $7 to $10 Million @ year more than it was going to generate in revenue (some estimates were as high as $70 Millions). Or the “fact” that the “high speed” train was only going to run about as fast as the cars on the freeway next to it? The average time on the train was not much different than driving by car but would cost an estimated $60.00 each way and take you to the airport, not downtown.

    Please do the people of wisconsin a big favor and If you cannot lead, and you will not follow, GET OUT OF THE WAY!

  6. “The fact that the estimates of operating the system were going to cost the State of Wisconsin $7 to $10 Million @ year more than it was going to generate in revenue (some estimates were as high as $70 Millions). Or the “fact” that the “high speed” train was only going to run about as fast as the cars on the freeway next to it? The average time on the train was not much different than driving by car but would cost an estimated $60.00 each way and take you to the airport, not downtown.”

    You talk about “facts” and then spew this nonsense? Not sure how you managed to get yourself in a position where you can fire anybody, but I’d be selling stock in whatever company put you there.

  7. Perhaps Ms Jeffries should actually travel somewhere to hear what real people are saying about the Mr. Walker. I just returned from Calfornia. Many there believe their high speed train is a farce and applaud Mr. Walker for his move. Their first leg is to run from Borden to Corcoran in the central valley. Both are in the middle of nowhere. The good news for them is that they will be able to get from nowhere to nowhere at 220 mph.

  8. I’d like to thank Irwin Fletcher and Tom Barnes for proving what I’d said earlier.

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