The Wisconsin Legislature Finally Scheduled A Bill To Create Some Jobs.

For Europeans.

Europeans Who Make Robots.

The Wisconsin State Senate entered something of a brave new world this week, unfortunately it was for the same old special interests.  After more than 5 years of trailing the nation in job growth they finally scheduled a bill to create jobs.  For Europeans.  Europeans who build robots.

A London-based company that makes robots in the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Estonia asked for special legislation.   Less than one month later the Senate Republicans scheduled it for a vote.  The bill itself is simple enough, it allows robots that replace delivery drivers to operate on sidewalks.  Of course in Northern Wisconsin we don’t have a lot of sidewalks.   

Another thing we don’t have a lot of is access to broadband.  People in Northern Wisconsin have been asking for affordable and reliable internet access for years.  Instead of rushing to help, Governor Walker and the Republicans have decided the lack of internet access wasn’t a high enough priority.  And now they are rolling out the excuses.

The facts are simple.  Six years ago, the people of Wisconsin, and specifically Northern Wisconsin, saw their own Governor send $23 million of our dollars back to Washington for one reason only: politics.   

State officials returned the $23 million to the federal government, not because Governor Walker “wasn’t able to accept” the money as some have tried to claim.  Wisconsin accepted the money, but then sent it back. 

In one the earliest signs the Governor was looking beyond the people of Wisconsin, he made a stand against taking stimulus dollars from Washington.  He was more interested in establishing his anti-federal government credentials than he was in helping boost broadband connections across rural Wisconsin. 

That money would have helped 380 Wisconsin communities, 385 libraries and 82 schools. It also could have been used to improve police, fire department and hospital communications in rural areas.  Yes there were some strings attached, but the problem wasn’t that we couldn’t meet those requirements.  The problem was that it would have required the Governor to put some pressure on AT&T, something he was unwilling to do.

The end result of these political calculations is that the people of Northern Wisconsin have had to wait for meaningful action on improving broadband access.  That’s 6 years of missed opportunity, lost economic activity and just plain wasted time.  Only politicians who’ve never worked in the real world think it’s OK to do nothing for six years.  No board room or boss would buy that excuse, and the people of Northern Wisconsin shouldn’t either.

It’s shameful that Wisconsin citizens have to wait years when European robot makers can brush aside regulations by getting a special interest bill scheduled for the Senate floor a month after it was introduced.  I believe that helping Wisconsin citizens should be a higher priority than changing our laws so that European robots can replace workers.

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