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Good day people of the First Assembly District.  For today’s edition of Notes from the West Wing, I want to talk about Wisconsin Jobs.  The historic recession of the last two years has been incredibly difficult for the private sector economy with businesses shedding 180,000 jobs over that time.  When I came back to the Legislature I pledged that my priority would be to get Wisconsin workers back on the job.
 
Beginning the day after the November elections, I and other legislators began our planning for legislative initiatives to spur job growth.  In addition, Governor Walker began planning and developing his “Wisconsin is Open for Business” effort.  Even before he officially took office he was laying the groundwork in an effort to begin stimulating job growth.  When January came around with the Legislature in Special Session we tackled the issue of job creation and realized almost immediate results as businesses saw the efforts being made in Wisconsin to foster a more friendly business environment.
 
When the January job numbers were released, the efforts of Governor Walker and the Legislature began to be realized as Wisconsin created over 10,000 new jobs, with over 4,000 of those jobs being manufacturing jobs.  That increase following a net loss of manufacturing jobs in December.  The positive results continued and just yesterday, the Department of Workforce Development released the February job numbers showing the creation of an additional 5,200 jobs, of which another 4,300 were manufacturing jobs.  Already in the first two months Wisconsin has over 15,000 new jobs and the February unemployment rate is 7.4%, which is 1.7% less than this time a year ago and is below the national average.  Wisconsin job creation is off to a good start but there is much more work needed to correct the errant direction Wisconsin was sent during the previous two years.
 
As the State Budget process goes forward, I will be very attentive and interested in the provisions designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.  But I am also working on a couple of additional proposals of my own that I intend to introduce over the coming months. Both are proposals that I introduced last session.  The first is a proposal to provide tax credits to the tourism industry for out of state advertising.  Tourism is important for many parts of the state and especially for the First Assembly District.  It forms an important part of our local economy and this incentive to boost tourism can bolster the industry and create jobs.
 
I am also currently drafting my legislation to provide tax credits to businesses in the ship building industry.  The legislation will provide a payroll tax credit only for new jobs created in the industry and the credit cannot reduce the tax liability of the company to a level below the level of the previous year.  Ship building is a historic cornerstone industry of the First District and one that has fallen on hard times during this recession.  This industry provides quality jobs and growth in this industry would provide great benefits not only to the workers employed there, but to the entire region.
 
We cannot passively hope for job growth in Wisconsin.  With the unemployment rate at 7.4% there are still too many people out of work.  The job outlook is improving and if you know of someone still looking for work please get the word out that there are lots of employers now looking to fill positions.  People looking for work should visit www.JobCenterofWisconsin.com where there are currently 26,000 positions posted and to connect with the state Job Service system if additional training and other assistance is needed.
 
Thanks for reading today.  As always, feel free to contact me with your thoughts or concerns.