Our Small Business BudgetWednesday, September 9, 2015 - Press Release
Anyone who sits down each month to look at a family checkbook knows one simple fact: budgets are about priorities. That may sound cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. As the Good Book says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”
What’s true of family and business budgets is also true of government. Since all of us in state government spent the first six months of this year working on our budget for the next two years, now is a good time to ask that same question: what are the priorities?
For Gov. Walker and me, our priority is to make sure every day that Wisconsin is open for business. And since we know that small businesses create 60-plus percent of new jobs, that means a special focus on small businesses.
Today is the annual capstone of that effort, a statewide summit for entrepreneurs and employers to come together with our cabinet to talk about small business. Events like this summit, held today at the Plaza in Eau Claire, provide direct access to our top team, so we can hear from the folks on the front lines of this economy how best to serve them. And we are listening!
Many of the topics we discuss today will connect to the priorities in our budget. One of the first messages that the governor and I hear consistently is a plea for tax relief. This budget again held the line on property taxes, part of our promise that property taxes will be lower in 2018 than they were in 2014, just like they are lower today than when we took office in 2011.
We also continued our effort to simplify the tax code. For the smaller guys who are trying to do their own taxes with a program like TurboTax, that’s a big deal.
Our other top priority is jobs, particularly to connect workers to skills they need for the jobs they want.
We implemented common-sense drug screening, testing and treatment programs so people on welfare are in the best position to join the workforce. We put $3 million into transitional jobs, expanding this success beyond Milwaukee to Racine, Beloit and rural communities. And we’ve continued Wisconsin Fast Forward, a major initiative to support local and private-sector solutions to solve the skills gap that separates workers from the 80,000 plus open jobs available right now in Wisconsin.
This budget also invests in our state’s transportation infrastructure, keeping the Zoo Interchange, Hoan Bridge and Stillwater Bridge projects on time so we can keep commerce moving. Many of our small businesses are precision manufacturers, family farmers and even home-based internet businesses, all of which rely on Wisconsin’s strong highway, freight rail and harbor system to get their goods to customers worldwide.
Finally, this budget increases the state’s investment in broadband by providing up to $1.5 million annually for expansion grants. Broadband is crucial for education and tele-medicine and law enforcement, but it’s also essential for business attraction and for home-based internet businesses.
On the whole, then, I feel confident our priorities are in the right place. Because ultimately they’re not our priorities — they’re yours. What we put in this budget is a reflection of what we hear every day from citizens and constituents across Wisconsin, at gatherings like today’s Small Business Summit.
We hope if you can’t attend you’ll add your voice to the conversation by emailing your ideas on how to improve the economy for small businesses; write me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your two cents.