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U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to 8.5%
The private sector added 325,000 jobs in the month of December, according to federal data released today.
It’s worth remembering that the Obama administration predicted that unemployment would be significantly lower at this point when it was selling the Stimulus package.  According to a much-publicized graph, if the Stimulus *hadn’t* passed, unemployment would be at 6.7% today, as opposed to 6.0% if it *did* pass.
6.0% is 2.5 percentage points lower than the *actual* unemployment rate today.
Public Sector Pay
Washington Post: Obama to give fed workers 0.5 cost-of-living pay hike ***(But no collective bargaining “rights!)
USA Today: Federal workers starting at much higher pay than in past  The portion of federal workers earning $100,000 or more grew from 12 in 2006 to 22 in 2011.
Recall Price Tag: $11.1 Million… And Counting!
Late Friday afternoon, the Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) announced that this year’s recall elections will cost taxpayers $9 million.
That’s on top of $2.1 million the taxpayers already had to spend on last year’s recall elections.
According to the G.A.B., the total cost of the recall elections is estimated to be $9,011,762.18.  That includes:
  1. More than $2.3 million in county costs;
  2. More than $5.8 million in municipal costs; and
  3. More than $840,000 in G.A.B. costs.
What else could $9,011,762.18 buy for Wisconsin?
  1. 90 school teachers; or
  2. 12 different State agencies; or
  3. 234 Jobs: The average personal income in WI: $38,424; or
  4. A $40 check to every unemployed worker in Wisconsin; or
  5. 70% of the Democrats’ C.O.R.E. Jobs agenda last session ($12.4 M)
Read to Lead Task Force Recommendations Announced
Earlier this week, Gov. Walker joined with legislative leaders and DPI Superintendent Tony Evers to announce recommendations for Wisconsin’s Read to Lead Task Force.  The initiative is aimed to help kids learn how to read, with the goal of ensuring all students can read at grade level by the time they enter fourth grade.
The recommendations of the Read to Lead Task Force focus on improvements and changes in teacher preparation and professional development; screening, assessment and intervention; early childhood; accountability; and family involvement.  They include:
1.      Implementing early literacy screening for all kindergarteners in Wisconsin to identify and intervene with struggling students as soon as they enter school;
2.      Strengthening YoungStar, the statewide childcare rating system, to include more specific early literacy criteria to identify and support struggling readers as soon as possible;
3.      Implementing improvements to teacher preparation programs around early reading, including a new, more rigorous exam for reading educators;
4.      Requiring that the professional development plans for all new elementary educators explicitly focus on literacy, and require focused professional development educators whose students continually struggle to improve their performance;
5.      Providing new, aggressive professional development opportunities to enhance the skills of current reading educators, including a new online professional development portal at and an annual reading conference for elementary principals and district reading specialists;
6.      Creating a new public/private partnership to engage Wisconsin philanthropic groups and businesses around the goal of ensuring every child can read by the end of third grade.
94% of Business Leaders say WI on “Right Track”
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business group, conducts an annual survey of business executives to gauge the state of our business climate. 
This year, that survey found:
  1. 94% said Wisconsin is headed in the right direction;
  2. Six times as many businesses are adding jobs as are losing them: 44% said their business would be adding jobs in the next six months, compared to 7% reporting a decline;
  3. 43% said they are having trouble hiring employees despite high unemployment; and
  4. Political instability is affecting their businesses.  Reforming the recall process and ending the instability would improve the business climate.
The president of WMC said in a statement that businesses “are increasingly alarmed by the constant recalls and political instability that compounds increased regulatory pressure from the federal government,” and that “uncertainty inhibits job creation and the constant threat of recalls undermines not only our democracy but our economy.”




Wisconsin State

Journal: Year-end survey by WMC tempers expectations






Reforms over Recalls

The coming month will see headline after headline on the day-to-day progress of the unprecedented recall efforts.
Keep in mind, this artificial instability is having an effect on job creators.  In an annual survey of business executives done by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, businesses are clearly concerned about recall elections and political instability.
The Democrats continue to politicize job losses in Wisconsin, as they root against the economy for their own political gain.
However, don’t lose sight of the fact that Republicans in Wisconsin have achieved incredible, nation-standard progress in the past year, even as we continue to work on more reforms to improve our state’s business climate.
Our list of accomplishments in the last 12 months along is impressive:
  1. Republicans in Wisconsin are creating a better jobs climate to allow private sector to growth;
  2. We sent a crystal-clear message to the private sector with a balanced budget and a pro-jobs agenda that included:
    1. Targeted tax incentives including the manufacturers tax credit, capitol gains reinvestment credits, a two-year tax holiday for businesses that relocate to Wisconsin; a tax deduction for new employees and a doubling of the funding for the state’s Jobs Tax Credit;
    2. Tort reform that fights back against one of the biggest threats to small business: frivolous lawsuits;
    3. Regulatory reform including new oversight and restrictions on government rules, not businesses
  3. We turned the Democrats’ $3 billion deficit it into a surplus in six months;
  4. We stood up to runaway property taxes with a two-year tax freeze and a permanent cap on property taxes; and
  5. We enacted collective bargaining reform to bring the public sector pay and benefits more in line with the private sector.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive; Wisconsin’s business climate has improved in nearly every study:
  1. Forbes Magazine: Wisconsin up from 43rd to 40th Best State for Business (and Illinois fell behind Wisconsin for the first time in 3 years, falling to 41st, down from was 37th in 2010 and 24th in 2009.);
  2. CNBC ranked Wisconsin 25th---up from 29th in 2010.
  3. Chief Executive Magazine ranked Wisconsin at 24th, up from 41st in 2010.
  4. Wisconsin’s improvement was the biggest jump in the nation and in the history of the magazine.
  5. Wisconsin also recently ranked 24th in the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s Small Business Survival Rankings.  Wisconsin moved up from 31st in the previous year.
  6. Editorials remind Wisconsin that the sky hasn’t fallen on education and local governments, as the Democrats repeatedly threatened it would.
Wisconsin needs more jobs, and we all need to work together to make it happen. No other issue, or distraction, resonates more directly right now.
Interesting Reads of the Week
Polls of the Week
Around the State
Wausau Daily Herald: More young people make career of farming.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Things looking up for Wisconsin dairy industry
Around the Country
Christian Science Monitor: Indiana braces for Wisconsin-style showdown over union bill - again.
Evansville Courier & Press: New Indiana Statehouse security rules limit protesters, signs, canned drinks.
In Case You Missed It
Wisconsin State Journal: State demographics loom large
Schedule Ahead
*** The Legislature will be in session on Tuesday, January 17th.  Members are keeping Tuesday January 24th and Wednesday January 25th open on their calendars for possible session dates.
***Gov. Walker will deliver his State of the State speech on January 25th.
Natural Resources Committee Update
The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources will consider a bill, AB 463 reforming Wisconsin wetland regulations to increase the amount of wetland restoration and improvement as well as economic growth in Wisconsin.
Last week, the Committee heard 4 bills; the Committee will vote on them this week. The bills are:
Assembly Bill 201 relating to: regulation of geothermal well drillers and granting rule-making authority
Assembly Bill 363 relating to: regulating sales of plastic bulk merchandise containers to scrap plastic dealers
Assembly Bill 377 relating to: the definition of rough fish and taking rough fish with a crossbow
Assembly Bill 383 relating to: the disposal of oil absorbent materials
Assembly Bill 395 relating to: acquisition of land in the Niagara Escarpment corridor
Forestry Committee Update
The Winter 2011-2012 issue of the Wisconsin Urban & Community Forests newsletter is now available (electronic format only) at
This issue features: 
  •  Reflections on the 2011 SMA Conference
  • Community Profile - City of Sparta
  • Community Tree Profile - London Planetree
  • EAB Update
  • Thousand Cankers Disease
  • Dogwood Sawfly
  • International Guidelines for Urban Forestry
  • Prentice Cooperative Nursery Effort
  • Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA)