Shankland: Wisconsin needs job creation, not election-year gimmicks
Written by: Representative Shankland
The State of the State is an opportunity for us to take stock of Wisconsin. From our family farms to our paper mills, students to veterans, senior citizens to small business owners, low-wage workers to middle class families, the state of our state is only as strong as our neighbors are.
This week’s address presented Gov. Scott Walker with a real opportunity to lay out a plan for our shared economic recovery. Unfortunately, all I saw the governor deliver were creative accounting methods and an overly rosy economic picture of our state. With Wisconsin 37th in the nation in job growth, we need stronger leadership.
As your state representative, I’m committed to putting your needs first: through job creation, making real investments in our public schools, strengthening BadgerCare and reducing income inequality. Walker had the chance to show leadership on these issues, but chose instead to present election-year gimmicks that will do nothing to grow the middle class or create jobs.
Let’s be clear: Wisconsin’s $991 million “surplus” was built on historic cuts to our public schools and local governments, and was made possible by kicking thousands off of BadgerCare. We should use this surplus to reinvest in the very cornerstones of our society: our schools, our local governments and our neighbors who need health care. But the governor is ignoring the glaring needs of Wisconsin families to hand out a small tax break, which will make a negligible difference in our pocketbooks.
This tax break will, however, make a big difference in Walker’s structural deficit, adding $100 million to his already $725 million deficit. That’s nothing compared to the debt payments Wisconsin is making this biennium, which are the highest on record. Under Gov. Walker, our bonded indebtedness is at the highest level in state history.
The governor’s financial plan for our state is not fiscally responsible. We can’t continue to sustain deep cuts to our schools and health care in order to deliver an election-year “surplus” that does little for the people of our state. We must have a state government that balances our finances, empowers everyone to achieve long-term economic security, and invests in our greatest assets — our schools and communities.
Let’s make 2014 a year of action for the middle class. Together, let’s create a long-term jobs plan that will sustain our local economies and grow our middle class. Let’s raise the minimum wage and lift people out of poverty, reducing dependence on public benefits programs and saving taxpayer dollars. Let’s tackle student loan debt and fairly fund our public schools to give all students the educational opportunities they deserve.
Now is the time for the legislature to focus on real people’s needs and priorities — not just score political points. I am committed to working hard with you and my colleagues to make this year of action a positive step forward for Wisconsin families.
Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, represents the 71st Assembly District in Portage County.