Rep. Peter Barca is the Wisconsin Assembly Democrats Leader
Last fall Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans got elected on the promise of creating 250,000 jobs for Wisconsin workers and families.
Eight months after taking office, the top issue that Wisconsinites still want their elected leaders to focus on is putting the people of our great state back to work and rebuilding economic security for middle-class families.
Unfortunately, Gov. Walker and his Republican rubberstamps in the legislature have done little to create jobs. Instead of focusing on job creation, Republicans have spent the last eight months advancing an extreme, polarizing agenda that attacked Wisconsin workers. That may have much to do with unemployment in Wisconsin climbing from 7.4% when Walker took office in January to 7.8% in July -- the most recent month for which data is available.
Many Wisconsinites have been without work for many months, but rather than work overtime to get Wisconsin working, Republicans are only showing up for one unfocused day of session work this month. Simply put, they are only willing to work part-time when we should be working overtime to get Wisconsin working again.
The reason why Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans seem so disinterested in working to create jobs is clear: they have no plan to actually create good-paying jobs for Wisconsin families.
In the 2010 elections, Scott Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs while providing few details on how he would achieve that. Realizing that his campaign was high on rhetoric and short on details, Walker's campaign insulted Wisconsin's workers by re-releasing a blown up version of their empty job creation talking points in 58 point font so that it would stretch to 68 pages – one page longer than Tom Barrett's comprehensive, detailed plan to get our state working.
It's been almost exactly a year since Walker's campaign and Wisconsin families still have no detailed agenda from Gov. Walker that shows that he is serious about working together to create jobs.
And that's why even Gov. Walker now seems to be backing off of his promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term.
One of Wisconsin's best economic development resources is our well-educated, hard-working workforce. With the highest high school graduation rate in the country and robust training programs, more Wisconsinites have been entering the workforce with the skills companies require to do business than their peers in other states. Instead of continuing to focus on education, Wisconsin is now doing the opposite. Wisconsin now leads the nation in cuts to education (among states that keep such statistics) thanks to Gov. Walker's misguided budget according to reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In addition to wanting to gut our educated workforce, Republicans now have a bill that would cripple Wisconsin’s biotech industry, which has been a leading force in creating good-paying, family-supporting jobs right here in Wisconsin and has been the envy of other states in our region. The biotech industry currently supports over 72,000 jobs and has generated over $7 billion in economic activity and $615 million in tax revenue for Wisconsin.
Rather than work with Democrats to expand this crucial industry for Wisconsin’s economic future, legislative Republicans in both houses are currently sponsoring a bill that would ban important biotech research in labs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin. This research has already led to treatments that have saved millions of lives and researchers are already making advances that are giving hope to millions more with Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, cancer and heart conditions.
Banning this research in Wisconsin would lead to an exodus of both biotech scientists and the companies that have located here and are employing thousands of Wisconsinites to states like California. Just like they did with green energy jobs, the Republicans seem more interested in paying back favors to their extreme and powerful special interests than they care about creating and retaining good-paying jobs for their constituents.
If Gov. Walker cares at all about the plight of Wisconsin's middle-class families, he should cancel his campaign trip to Kentucky for a candidate so extreme and out of touch that the polls show he is down 29 points and tell his fellow Republicans to get back to work for as long as it takes to pass a bipartisan, comprehensive jobs package that puts Wisconsinites back to work now.
Wisconsin workers and families want us to move forward together to create jobs. Assembly Democrats have a comprehensive jobs package of 10 bills ready to be passed to put Wisconsinites back to work now, but Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans are have shown that they simply aren't interested in creating jobs for Wisconsin families.