Legislature making progress, has more to do
With the budget repair bill passed and protesters leaving the state Capitol in Madison, things have returned to a more normal state. However, we are continuing to move full-speed ahead with a variety of reforms in the state Assembly.
Last month marked our first 100 days in office. The No. 1 focus of the special session called by Gov. Scott Walker was to get Wisconsin back on the right track by improving the job-creation climate, reducing the tax burden and balancing the stateís budget. We passed bills designed to improve the business climate by enacting much-needed tort reform, reducing health care costs and reforming the stateís Commerce Department.
Part of this 100-day package of legislation included my first bill, Special Session Assembly Bill 5, which makes it harder for the Legislature to pass tax increases. I hope this bill goes a long way toward getting Wisconsin out of the 10 highest taxed states in the nation.
We received encouraging news this month as a result of our efforts this session. Wisconsin jumped 17 spots from the 41st best state to do business to 24th best in a business ranking put out by the widely respected Chief Executive Magazine, which is based on a survey of 500 CEOs. Reports also show that our economy is showing signs of recovery, including the private sector creating about 24,000 jobs in the first three months of the year, as well as revised revenue numbers predicting an increase of more than $600 million by 2013.
I am cautiously optimistic of these numbers and feel strongly that the new revenue coming into the state must not be spent on new government programs but instead be used to eliminate our stateís deficit and pay down our debt.
This month we took action on multiple measures, including passing the telecommunications modernization act, strengthening school choice and ensuring a photo ID is required to vote.
The telecom modernization act is designed to update Wisconsinís telecom laws to remove outdated regulations, attract new investment and provide businesses with the technology they need. The bill is expected to create as many as 50,000 jobs and has no cost to taxpayers because no tax incentives or credits were necessary.
Legislation also passed that would eliminate the arbitrary cap on the Milwaukee School Choice Program. The successful program not only results in around a 20 percent increase in graduation rates but also saves about $10,000 per pupil, which essentially means there is more money for schools outside of Milwaukee.
The Assembly passed the Voter ID Bill last week on a bipartisan 60-35 vote. Wisconsin will join 28 other states that require ID to be presented at the polls. This action will ultimately decrease voter fraud and protect the integrity of your vote.
We have accomplished much in the first few months of the legislative session, but there is much left to do. I look forward to continuing to pushing even more reforms forward in the coming weeks.
Republican Rep. Tyler August of Walworth represents the 32nd Assembly District. Readers can reach him at (608) 266-1190, Rep.August@legis.wi.gov, or P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708.