Communities across Wisconsin are struggling to make ends meet. Factories and businesses are closing or relocating, hard working people are losing their jobs, and families are forced to cut back. In fact, recently Forbes Magazine ranked Wisconsin the third worst state in which to do business because it’s so expensive to live and work here.
We can’t sustain our state with policies that increase costs on businesses and families and drive away good jobs. We need to change the way Wisconsin does business, finding new ways to do more with less – instead of raising taxes and growing government. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past seven years as Milwaukee County Executive, and that’s what we must demand from our leaders in Madison too.
The problems facing my county are the same problems facing communities all across Wisconsin. We’ve been forced to make tough choices to hold the line on taxes. The county budget I presented last month seeks to reduce the size of county government while encouraging economic growth. Once again, we’ve looked for creative ways to fill budget shortfalls. Our leaders in Madison need to approach problems the same way, by looking out for hard-working families, instead of protecting the status quo at their expense.
This year, Governor Doyle and the legislature raised taxes and fees by more than $3 billion, increasing taxes on income, property, automobile insurance, nursing home and hospital care, and even cell phone use. To “cut costs” they reduced funding for law enforcement and other local government services, and approved the early release of criminals into our communities to save money. This is the wrong direction for Wisconsin.
We need to fundamentally change the way government does business in Wisconsin, and get Wisconsin working again.
This week, I spent time in Manitowoc visiting with citizens, reporters, and supporters before the “Business Connects with Government” luncheon sponsored by The Chamber of Manitowoc County. The Herald Times reported on my visit and my campaign’s focus on jobs and the economy:
"Walker said his campaign, which began in April and he hopes will end in victory in November 2010, will focus on jobs and the economy.
Walker believes the fastest, most effective way to create new jobs is to cut taxes and implement regulatory and fiscal policies encouraging job growth and economic investment.
He said history has proven that when taxes are cut, consumers and investors spend more money…."In my seven years, I've cut the county's debt by 10 percent, reduced the county work force by more than 20 percent and authored seven consecutive budgets without raising the property tax levy," Walker told editors and reporters at the Herald Times Reporter before going to The Chamber of Manitowoc County's monthly Business Connects with Government luncheon program.
…Feedback during the next 12 months prior to the September 2010 primary is one of the pluses to such a long campaign, Walker said.
"When you start running this early, you can have real conversations rather than waiting till next summer and just throwing money into advertising," said Walker, who guessed he's already made campaign stops in about 60 of Wisconsin's 72 counties."
I am glad to have gotten the opportunity to share my views with the Manitowoc County Chamber, and look forward to my next visit.
For the past several months, I have been traveling across the state listening to what citizens want from their next governor. My schedule this weekend was jam-packed, including a grassroots kickoff in Racine County with nearly 200 supporters, and a visit to the First Congressional District Fall Fest. At Fall Fest I spoke to over 300 people, and was pleased to share the stage with so many talented leaders in our party including Rep. Paul Ryan and RNC Chairman Michael Steele. We had a fantastic show of support – winning the straw poll that day with an overwhelming 95% of the vote. You can check out the video of my address here.
On Sunday afternoon, I addressed a crowd of over 700 concerned citizens gathered at a rally hosted by the Citizens for Responsible Government in support of my county budget. These are hard-working taxpayers who are rightfully upset that the County Board is threatening to raise taxes instead of working on creative solutions to fill budget shortfalls.
My team has been hard at work, too! We had nearly 300 attendees at our first grassroots training session at State Fair Park last week, and have seven more training sessions planned across the state.