Skip to main content
Jobs Focus
***Wall Street Journal: The unemployment rate for male high-school graduates, ages 20 to 24, is 22.4%, up from 10.4% four years ago
Week in Review
Last week, the legislature hosted a forum on the current state of Wisconsin’s economy, with a presentation from the senior economist and economic advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.  Some highlights from his presentation:
Ø      Wisconsin out-performed Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana (but not Iowa) in terms of recovering from the recession
Ø      Agriculture and manufacturing have been bouncing back strongly
Ø      WI Strengths: Higher education, natural beauty, productive workforce, and a strong ability to turn concepts into specific products, e.g. the “commercialization of ideas”
Ø      WI Weaknesses: “Brain Drain,” difficulty in adding skills to workers, aging population
Ø      Wisconsin is in much better shape than many states, in part because the hardest-hit parts of the economy didn’t play out as much here; housing, for example: 15% of Wisconsin houses have negative equity, compared to 22.5% nationally and as high as 72% in Las Vegas
A Year in Review and the Year to Come
Wisconsin needs more jobs, and we all need to work together to help it happen. 
 
No matter what the latest news story, or what issue pushes its way to the top headlines, Republicans in Wisconsin have an amazing, undeniable record of achievement.
 
Budget: We balanced our state budget without raising taxes.  We eliminated a $3 billion deficit without gimmicks.  We cut state borrowing by nearly 20%, and we stood up – finally – to runaway government spending. 
 
Jobs: We held two special legislative sessions devoted to real-world improvements: we stood up to frivolous lawsuits, which businesses consistently identify as a top concern, with tort reform.  We cut down on transportation costs with common-sense reforms to our freight laws.  We refocused our economic development programs, and we created real incentives for businesses to relocate to Wisconsin, and for Wisconsin companies to grow and keep jobs here.
 
Results: Wisconsin’s business climate has shown signs of improvement this year.  We’re on track for the first year of job growth after three years of decline, and a quarter of the jobs lost in the recession have come back.  A leading business magazine showed a 17-point jump in our business rankings, and a WMC survey of business leaders showed that 88% believe we are heading in the right direction, compared to a dismal 10% a year ago.
 
These aren’t abstract arguments: they’re real reforms designed to have real results.
 
Bipartisanship in the Age of Recalls:
But was it all just some Republican plot?  Actually, 66 bills have been signed into law this year, and 60 of those – 91% – passed with bipartisan support.  There are 57 more bills awaiting the governor’s signature, and if they are all signed into law, it means 93% of our actions in Madison were bipartisan.
 
What are the alternatives?
Compare Wisconsin’s reforms to real-time developments in other states and other countries. 
 
The UK and many European countries’ runaway spending are being drastically cut back in real time.  Severe austerity measures mean the UK is laying off a half-million government workers, and drastic cuts have led to massive unrest
Illinois hiked taxes on businesses and individuals by billions of dollars this year, they’re mired in a pension disaster, and they’re still looking to hiking taxes as a first option.
 
Minnesota had a three-week government shutdown, which was finally solved with one-time budget gimmicks and borrowing.
Iowa is looking at raising its gas tax.
 
Compare Wisconsin now to when Democrats were in charge from 2009- ‘10
Wisconsin tried it the Dems’ way, and it was an economic disaster.  While the Democrats were in charge after the 2008 election, Wisconsin lost 170,000 jobs.  The rest of the state was mired in recession, but the government still grew by 6%, fueled by billions in tax hikes on working families and small businesses, billions more in property tax hikes, and billions on top of that in one-time federal stimulus spending. You simply can’t just sweep that reality under the rug and ignore that it happened.
 
Ask yourself: what part of that did they think would be good for jobs?  And more importantly, if the Democrats were still in power, would they ever pragmatically admit that their way didn’t and change course? Their rhetoric today implies they wouldn’t.
 
And even now, the Democrats’ top focus is recalls.  The only jobs recalls buttress are for political campaigns and the US postal service carriers delivering a seemingly endless stream of political ads to our mail boxes.
 
We should all be proud that Republicans are taking real steps to create a business climate ripe for job creators, and of the bipartisan successes we’ve seen.  Our reforms are working, but there’s still work to do.  Republicans made a promise to change the status quo and focus on jobs, and we’re keeping that promise every day.
Annual Wisconsin Schools Survey Released
On Thursday, a story hit the front pages with the argument that school districts have been cutting and laying off workers, painting a picture that Act 10 reforms have not been working.
 
However, the majority of the teacher layoffs occurred in districts that haven’t used Act 10: Milwaukee, Kenosha and Janesville signed contracts in advance of the reforms, and accounted for 68% of the teacher layoffs
Ø      71 school districts, about 17% of the state, didn’t complete the survey
Ø      This isn’t the first time Democrats used incomplete data to criticize us. Democrats were called out by PolitiFact in September for saying Republicans enacted the deepest cuts of any state, citing a survey that only 24 out of 50 states http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/oct/05/mark-miller/mark-miller-says-wisconsin-republicans-enacted-mos/
Ø      Resignations disproportionately skewed the results: New teacher hires outnumber layoffs and non-renewals by 1,213 positions
Ø      The median student-teacher ratio in Wisconsin is 13.5 to 1, better than the national average of 15:1
 
Wisconsin had deep challenges caused by poor decisions:
Ø      Democrats grew the government by 6% (2009-2010) in the middle of a recession, paid for by billions in job-killing taxes, billions in higher property taxes, and accounting tricks
Ø      Democrats spent $3.4 billion in one-time stimulus money, much of it on permanent programs including more than $1.1 billion in school aids – once that money evaporated the hole got deeper
Ø      Administrators reported having to cut and reduce programs crucial to student success. Nearly 70% of superintendents said class sizes increased last year
Ø      The survey makes a broad generalization that the loss of a classroom teacher is the same as the loss of a part-time playground monitor.
Ø       WEAC actually said WORSE things about the 2009 Dem budget in this same survey in 2009: they criticized the loss of revenue controls for resulting in nearly 70% of superintendents seeing increased class sizes http://www.weac.org/news_and_publications/09-04-14/Wisconsin_students_losing_out_under_revenue_controls.aspx
 
The majority of the elementary schools in the districts that responded maintained or lowered their class size:
Ø      70 % of parents say their school has stayed the same or gotten better over the last six months
Ø      75% of districts have the same K-3 class sizes or are decreasing them
Ø      67% of districts for grades 4-6 are keeping the same class size or decreasing them
Ø      92% of districts are keeping sports programs the same or expanding them
Ø      New teacher hires outnumber layoffs and non-renewals by 1,213 positions
Ø      96% of school districts have the same number or increased the number of AP sections
Ø      98% of school districts have the same number or increased the number of AP courses
Ø      89% of school districts have their AP class sizes stay the same or decrease
Interesting Read of the Week
“With no new theories, Democrats dusted off the big idea from the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes’s view that government can create jobs by spending a lot of money. The stimulus, however, has to be borrowed, and it has to be really, truly huge — probably something like $1.5 or $2 trillion — to fill the gap between where the economy is and where it would be if everyone was spending at pre-recession levels. The goal is to goad consumers into spending again. And President Obama’s jettisoned $400 billion jobs package, hard-core Keynesians argue, is nowhere near what it would take to persuade them.
 
“Many Republicans follow the more fiscally conservative University of Chicago School, which argues that Keynesian stimulus can’t heal a sick economy — only time can. Chicagoans believe that economies can only truly recover on their own and that policy interventions only slow the recovery. It’s a puzzle of modern politics that Republicans have had electoral success with a policy that fundamentally asserts there is nothing the government can do to create jobs any time soon.
 
“Of course, Romney, Perry, Herman Cain and the rest won’t come out and say, “If elected, I will tell you to wait this thing out.” Instead, Republican candidates fill their jobs plans with Chicagoan ideas that have nothing to do with the current crisis, like permanent cuts in taxes and regulation. These policies may (or may not) make the economy healthier in 5 years or 10, but the immediate impact would require firing a large number of America’s roughly 23 million government workers.
 
“Keynesians and Chicagoans, however, do agree on two important points. First, in economics, unlike politics, there’s no middle ground: You can’t simultaneously cut and increase government budgets. The only shot we have at truly transforming our economy is a one-party sweep in the 2012 elections that would lead to radical legislative changes. Still, either path — lots more debt or lots of fired government workers — will only inflame more Americans.
 
“The second area of agreement is the most important: an economy is truly healthy only when its people know how to make and do things that others will pay them a decent amount for. Jobs, in other words, are not the cause of a healthy economy; they’re the byproduct. And that’s another thing most national politicians know but will never say.”
New York Times Magazine: Can politicians really create jobs?
Around the Country
Around the State
In Case You Missed It
Rasmussen Reports: 70% believe US in recession
Ohio Votes Down Its Collective Bargaining Reforms
On Tuesday, Ohio repealed Issue 2 with 62% of the vote.  Unlike Wisconsin, Ohio allows for laws to be undone if a majority of the public votes for the repeal. After a long period of campaigning, in which pro-union forces were estimated to outspend the other side 3-to-1, the issue ultimately was defeated.
 
Wisconsin Democrats immediately called the vote a rousing success and trouble for Republicans here.  Union leaders said they hope it brings about resurgence for a labor movement long in decline.
 
However, the situations in Ohio and Wisconsin are drastically different. One of the biggest differences is in the law itself. The Ohio law included public safety workers, including firefighters and police officers, allowing a slew of ads making Ohioans believe that these safety workers would no longer be able to protect them. In Wisconsin, Governor Walker exempted police and firefighters in Act 10. The biggest difference between Wisconsin and Ohio, however, is that Wisconsinites have been able to see that these reforms are working for the state. School districts were able to avoid layoffs, and local municipalities were able to balance their budgets. In Ohio, Issue 2 did not have any time to prove to the voters of Ohio that it works.
 
Act 10 is working. The repeal vote in Ohio cannot be related to Wisconsin since the situations are so distinct. Wisconsin is moving forward, balancing budgets around the state, and creating jobs.
 
That’s not to say lessons can’t be taken from the vote, however.  In his weekly must-read column, Charles Krauthammer warned that Ohio could be a bellwether, but reminded us Ohio also voted down the “individual mandate” central to ObamaCare by 2-to-1.
 
Krauthammer said: “Tuesday showed that the powerful Republican tailwind of 2010 [is now] becalmed. Between now and November 2012, things can break either way.  […] Contrary to the condescending conventional wisdom, the American electorate is no angry herd, prepared to stampede on the command of today’s most demagogic populist. […] On the contrary. It is thoughtful and discriminating. For Republicans, this means there is no coasting to victory, 9 percent unemployment or not. They need substance.”
Krauthammer: A split decision
 
But the days of endlessly expanding state and local budgets are over, and Trumka and his union buddies may soon have to explain to their members why so many of their least senior colleagues may lose their jobs in order that more senior members can keep their gold-plated health and pension benefits. More senior members may go along with his strategy out of pure self-interest, but the illusion of unions working in solidarity for the good of all of their members will be exposed as a hollow promise.
           
Regardless, the unions’ next battle now turns to Wisconsin.
Natural Resources Update
The 2011 gun deer season begins this coming Saturday. Of interest to hunters around the state are recent changes to laws governing how firearms, bows and crossbows are transported that were recently approved and in effect for the 2011 deer season.
 
The Department of Natural Resources has published a website to answer frequently asked questions.
No Update Next Week
Next week, eUpdates will be suspended for the gun deer season and Thanksgiving week. The following Monday, November 28th or Monday December 5th, eUpdates will return, depending on the amount of information available. Until then, have a safe and successful week in the woods and a blessed day of Thanksgiving.