Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
A Smart Budget for Business
Gov Jim Doyle's 2007-09 budget is a smart, responsible budget for Wisconsin businesses. It is fiscally responsible, identifies our priorities for success, and invests in those priorities The budget includes more than a dozen separate tax cuts, saving the taxpayers and businesses of Wisconsin $1.7 billion over the next four years. The Governor's continued commitment to cost-cutting an efficient state government will save taxpayers another $40 million. As a result, the state's tax burden is at its lowest point in 35 years.
Quality education is absolutely critical to Wisconsin's future success. The skills and knowledge of our workforce are always rated as the most important factor to business success and our ability as a state to attract new businesses. The national economy has changed, driven by global competition and rapid advances in technology. To win the family-supporting jobs of the future, our children will need more than a high school education. They will need vocational training and education at a technical college or university to meet the demands of businesses.
The Governor has kept the state's 2/3 commitment to K-12 funding in order to hold property taxes down and support our education system. He's called for making a third year of math and a third year of science mandatory for high school graduation. His Wisconsin Covenant promises our 8th grade students that if they work hard, we'll make sure they have a place in a technical college or university and a financial package to pay for it. The Governor announced a $44 million increase in financial aid to prepare for the first class of Covenant Scholars and to help middle class families afford a college education. Higher education is the key to our state's future. We must insure that every Wisconsin child has the tools to get a family-supporting job.
We have two powerful state-owned assets to educate and train tomorrow's workforce—the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System. The Governor proposed investing $225 million for a new coordinated partnership between the state and the UW System and a major expansion in job training to help Wisconsin's technical colleges train an additional 36,000 workers. The additional money for the UW System is to be used to increase the capacity of the system so we have more engineers, nurses and welders that businesses are demanding.
Health care costs are on everyone's mind. The Governor's budget is a bold effort is to address this issue in a smart way. The hospital assessment in the Governor budget will provide Wisconsin with an additional $575 million in federal revenue---$300 million of which will be returned to hospitals in increased Medicaid reimbursements that can be passed on as savings to consumers. The remaining money will be used to cover more children and adults unable to buy insurance at their place of employment. When more people are covered, the burden does not fall on those who do have coverage.
Joined by the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, the Governor recently announced new health care options for Wisconsin Farm families, which would enable farm families and small businesses will be able to buy health insurance in large groups, increasing their buying power and stabilizing insurance rates.
For the second year in a row, Wisconsin was among only seven states to make the Corporation for Enterprise Development's Economic Honor Roll of the states, earning an A for economic performance, a B for business vitality and a B for development capacity. We should be proud of this ranking. Our diverse economy is creating good jobs of our citizens, and our public polices and resources are providing the capacity necessary to fuel economic growth. To build on our success, the Governor has proposed a new initiative--Get LEAN!--to help our state's manufacturers become the most competitive in the world. A new Wisconsin Venture Center will help connect entrepreneurs with investors around the country With our strong agricultural and forest products base, Wisconsin is well-positioned to become a leader in biofuels and other renewable energies. To support this, the budget includes $30 million for Wisconsin Energy Independence Grant and Loan program. Other states are being aggressive in this promising industry; we have to make sure we don't fall behind.
In summary, the Governor's budget focuses on issues important to our continued economic growth: a skilled workforce, top-flight education, a growing value-added economy and health care that is affordable and accessible. Let's use these new tools and create the collaborations and partnerships that can build an ever-more prosperous Wisconsin.
-- Mary P. Burke, Secretary
The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.
Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.