Following the challenging economy and historic job losses that have occurred in recent years, the focus of the legislative majorities this session has been on encouraging job creation and getting people back to work. While significant reforms and initiatives were acted on during two special sessions on jobs, legislative proposals are continuing to be developed and passed with the goal of helping grow our economy. We are seeing positive results from these efforts, as Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest it has been since December 2008. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Wisconsinites working has increased by over 21,000 since December 2010.
The role of small businesses and the private sector as job creators is critical in putting Wisconsin citizens back to work. As the growth of jobs in the private sector is vital for a growing economy, legislative action can help improve the business climate to be more conducive to job growth and economic development. State policies can help encourage expansion of existing businesses and draw job creators to our state. Since we started our efforts to improve Wisconsin’s business climate, our state’s national ranking jumped 17 places, from 41st to 24th, according to one business publication. Our state has also improved in rankings by CNBC, Forbes, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.
Rural economic development is also a crucial issue in our area, which is why I authored legislation to make it easier for dairy cooperative members to receive tax incentives when their cooperative modernizes or expands their facilities. This bill addresses a concern raised by a dairy cooperative in our area and will better enable cooperative members to receive the credit. This bill, Senate Bill 260, recently passed out of committee and is now available for a vote in the Senate.
Additionally, proposals included in the Governor’s Wisconsin Working plan have been approved that would create a pilot program called “Wisconsin Wins.” This pilot program would offer voluntary on the job training to those receiving unemployment benefits with the goal of placing job seekers directly into the workplace. Assembly Bill 450 and Senate Bill 352 have been passed by legislative committees and are now available for a vote in both chambers.
Also, legislation recently approved by the State Senate would provide high school students more options when preparing for a career after graduation. Senate Bill 335 would allow students to earn a Technical Education High School Diploma by taking vocational courses incorporating industry standards. This provides students interested in pursuing a skilled trade with a more focused curriculum, while improving access to skilled workers that is one of the top concerns of manufacturers.
As the legislative session continues and we work to improve Wisconsin’s economy, please stay in touch by email, phone or by visiting my website – www.harsdorfsenate.com – where you can sign up for my email updates and find additional information.