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January 16, 2009

The Road to Recovery

Our nation is in the midst of a deep recession, with rising unemployment and shaken consumer confidence. Our stock and credit markets are badly damaged. Wisconsin, like many states, is facing a record budget shortfall.

The situation requires bold action and strong leadership. President Obama has put forward an ambitious plan in an attempt to reverse course. Here in Wisconsin, Governor Doyle has taken a lead role in advocating for assistance to the states and has even reached out to Minnesota’s Governor for new solutions.

The upcoming state legislative session should be focused on growing our economy and putting together a responsible budget that invests in job growth and protects taxpayers. Recognizing the need to stimulate private-sector job growth, President Obama has suggested a tax credit for employers that hire people. The goal is to make it more affordable for businesses to add jobs. Yet, our Wisconsin State Senate leadership wants to open this session by making it more difficult and costly for businesses to keep existing jobs through mandating an increase in the minimum wage. When unemployment is low and profits are high, minimum wage increases can make sense. When job providers are struggling to survive and unemployment is up, mandating such an increase is a recipe for job losses.

Legislative leaders must adapt to the changing times. I am committed to working with my colleagues and the Governor to get through this economic downturn and turn our economy around. Our economic situation should not be an excuse to expand the size of government by using one-time funds or push a highly-partisan agenda, but rather an opportunity to invest in infrastructure that will produce long-term economic gains and help create jobs. The road to recovery will require cooperation and pushing aside the typical partisan traps that bog us down.