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Jobs Focus
Nat’l Unemployment Rate: 9.0%: October’s unemployment rate dropped slightly, from 9.1% to 9.0%.  The nation added about 100,000 jobs, which is not enough to keep pace with population increases.
Foreclosures Down 25% from 2010
This week, a report showed that foreclosure filings in October were down almost 25% compared to the same time last year.  That is consistent with a general yearlong trend showing lower foreclosure numbers.
 
The drop can be attributed to a wide range of factors, including willingness by some banks to modify mortgages to keep homeowners out of foreclosure.  Real estate prices seem to have been stabilizing, and the higher-than-normal amount of foreclosures in 2010, due to the lingering economy, set a high standard that would be difficult to recreate.
Week in Review
Results: Special Session to Improve Business Climate
This week, the state legislature continued its work on Wisconsin’s top issue, passing two additional jobs bills in Special Session. 
 
Of the 26 bills included in Gov. Walker’s original call, the Legislature has passed 14 of them.  Of those 14, 12 received bipartisan support.
 
This list of accomplishments includes:
Ø      Doubling the state’s Jobs Tax Credit program from $5 million to $10 million;
Ø      Expanding the WHEDA loan guarantee program for small businesses, by expanding the list of businesses eligible;
Ø      Cracking down on frivolous lawsuits by capping runaway attorney fees;
Ø      Improving manufacturing grants to technical colleges;
Ø      Bringing Wisconsin in line with other states on imputed income for health insurance taxes;
Ø      Economic-development TIF districts; and
Ø      Lowering transportation costs for businesses and farmers.
Real Reform, Real Results
True reform is never easy, because it requires change and upsets those that benefit by the broken status quo.  Making the right decisions for the next generation, not the next election, isn’t always politically popular.  But the inherent flaws in our system won’t be fixed without real reform, and real reformers willing to fight for the cause.
 
In January, we inherited a system with two inescapable realities: a weak economy and a broken budget.  Here’s what we’ve done:
Ø      Economy: The government can’t solve the economy single-handedly.  The best thing it can do is partner with the private sector to create a better climate.  We’ve done that, in the following ways:
o       On Day One, the very first thing we did was hold a Special Session on Jobs, which did the following:
o       Created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to replace the Department of Commerce.  We gave them a mission: identify ways to expand businesses in Wisconsin and help out-of-state businesses relocate here (SSSB6)
o       Increased the state’s economic development tax credits program by $25 million. (SSSB3) Passed $67 million in jobs tax credits: real, direct incentives for businesses to create jobs, with a $2,000 to $4,000 tax credit for every single new job a business creates (SSSB7)
o       Passed a bill to try to bring new businesses to Wisconsin, by giving them a two-year state tax holiday.  Again, the focus here was creating jobs, not growing the government (SSSB3)
o       Cracked down on frivolous lawsuits with tort reform (SSSB1)
o       Passed a state tax credit for money-saving health savings accounts (SSSB2)
o       Fall Session: In the last few weeks, we’ve continued that focus with action on the following:
§         Double the state’s Jobs Tax Credit program
§         Expand the WHEDA loan guarantee program
§         Additional measures to crack down on frivolous lawsuits with more tort reform
§         Seven bills to lower transportation costs for businesses and farmers
§         And it’s worth noting that the majority of those bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support
Ø      Budget:
o       We balanced the budget without raising taxes, just like we promised we would.  Sending a message to businesses that our broken budget isn’t going to get fixed on the backs of businesses has a major impact on our business-friendliness.
o       Turned a $3 billion deficit into a surplus
o       Froze property taxes throughout Wisconsin, and created the first permanent property tax cap in state history
o       Cut state borrowing by almost 20%
o       Stood up to runaway government spending
Ø      Results:
o       Is it working?  Compare to other states.  We can see, right now, the alternatives:
§         Illinois: Illinois increased taxes by $7 billion, including higher taxes on businesses, and that still wasn’t enough and they’re looking at even more tax hikes
§         Minnesota: They had a three-week government shut down, which was finally ended with one-time budget gimmicks and a lot of borrowing
§         Iowa: is looking at raising their state gas tax
§         Michigan: Cut school funding but unlike Wisconsin, their cuts lead to widespread teacher layoffs, instead of shared sacrifice
o       Real Results:
§         Wisconsin has a lower jobless rate than the national average, as well as surrounding states Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan;
§         A report from the Department of Revenue last month showed that jobs in Wisconsin are growing this year, after declining for the last three years
§         We’ve gained back a quarter of the jobs lost in the recession, and a third of manufacturing jobs
§         We saw a 17-point jump in CEO Magazine’s ranking of business-friendly states, the greatest one-year increase in the magazine’s history; and
§         We saw significant improvement in the WMC 2011 Economic Outlook survey, in which 88% of CEOs surveyed said Wisconsin was on the right track, up from a dismal 10% last year