In 2010, we elected Governor Walker and we told the world that Wisconsin is open for business. We have only just begun.
We have reduced regulatory burdens, we have repealed antiquated protective labor market laws, we have invested in workforce training and education, and we have kept a college education affordable. As a result, our state GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the highest in the Midwest while our unemployment rate is the lowest. As a state, we rank in the top five among states for the percentage of people participating in the workforce.
These are remarkable achievements, yet we can do better.
The changing demographics of our state requires us to do better. We cannot rest on our accomplishments. The economy of the future will require us to produce more with fewer people. We will need to innovate. We will need to work hard.
We want people to choose to live in Wisconsin. One way we compete for residents is to keep Wisconsin affordable.
Do our seniors have a financial incentive to become residents of states like Florida, Tennessee or Texas where there are no taxes on income? Does our tax policy encourage young entrepreneurs and inventors to relocate out-of-state? Do we have more government than we need?
These are important questions that we need to keep on the top of our policy agenda.
Everyone wants great roads, but at what cost? Our transportation spending needs to be viewed historically on a per capita basis to make sure our spending is both efficient and effective. Until we get policymakers looking at the right metric, we will not have a solution to the transportation funding question.
As citizens of this great nation, we must be ever diligent in protecting our rights. Ronald Reagan warned us that freedom is only one generation away from extinction.
Our nation’s founders expressed that our rights are “endowed by our Creator.” They further warned of a tyrannical government that might take away our individual rights. Protecting our rights, such as free speech and to keep and bear arms, is as important today as it was in the days of our country’s founding. We cannot assume that they are safe. Further, as the abolitionists crusaded for human rights for those without power or voice, so too must we crusade for the rights of the unborn.
We live in an era of rapid and widespread sharing of information. Gone are the days where we need experts from on high imposing their will in the education of our children.
School choice is a valuable tool to level the playing field in education and it must be preserved.
The new frontier, where we have the greatest opportunity to eliminate achievement gaps and multi-generational poverty, is in the area of early childhood education. Strategic, targeted investment in early childhood programs will produce substantial results and, in the long run, save tax money.
In God We Trust. Our liberty is endowed by our Creator. It is our jobs as citizens to protect those liberties, and we will do so if we keep God at the center of our work.
It is time for conservatives to engage in eradicating racial disparity in our state in terms of education, employment, and economics. The disparity has created a cultural chasm and generations of dependency, and it threatens to destroy our common bond as Americans. The cancer of disparity will break the fabric of who we are as a nation and it will break us financially.
We conservatives have too long ignored the problems or treated them with kid gloves, being afraid of potential criticism. Instead, we have left them to be addressed by urban liberals who have only made matters worse.
Let us commit to leveling the education playing field, growing employment opportunities, and strengthening families. Wisconsin can lead the nation and provide an outstanding example.
The most important policies are the ones which engender trust in government. We must pursue the utilization of technology to make it easier to inspect the workings of government and the decision-making process of office holders. We need to be measured in our approach, remaining prudent and exercising discretion on behalf of the public as well as the individuals involved.
Last session, as chair of the Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics, I hosted a half-day informational hearing on transparency in government. We heard from a variety of theorists and practitioners about the importance of transparency and the careful balancing of interests. In this next session, I plan to continue to seek reform for the State of Wisconsin which will enhance public trust.