Senate Joint Resolution
Senate Joint Resolution
Senate Joint Resolution
The Senate reconvened.
President Risser in the chair.
President Risser, with unanimous consent, asked that the Senate recess for the purpose of awaiting the Governor's State of the State Address in Joint Convention in the Assembly Chambers at 7:00 P.M.
The Senate stood recessed.
The Senate proceeded in a body to the Assembly Chamber to meet in Joint Convention to receive the State of the State Message.
Senate President Risser in the chair.
The Committee to wait upon the Governor appeared with his excellency the Governor, who delivered his message as follows:
"Speaker Sheridan, Speaker Pro Tem Staskunas, President Risser, Majority Leader Decker, Minority Leaders Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald, Constitutional Officers, Supreme Court Justices, tribal leaders, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, members of the Legislature, and fellow citizens of Wisconsin:
I stand before you tonight at a difficult time in America's history. We have been hit hard by an economic crisis - the depths of which we have not seen since the Great Depression.
Our nation's unemployment rate has soared to over 10 percent. While Wisconsin's rate is one and a half points lower - it is still far too high.
Far too many remain unemployed. Far too many are making do with a paycheck that doesn't go as far as it used to. And far too many are living with the fear that they might lose their jobs and their health care.
Let us never forget that an unemployment rate is not just a statistic. These are people who did nothing wrong. They didn't deal derivatives, manipulate Wall Street, hyper inflate the real estate market or get bonuses from big investment banks. They are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our neighbors and friends.
Above all else, we have to look out for these people. In Wisconsin, I'm proud we haven't turned our backs on them.
We're making sure they have unemployment insurance and training to get a new start in life.
And although demand is at an all-time high, we're making sure they have health care and food assistance.
We've been able to do this - and protect our most important priorities like education and health care - because we've made the deepest cuts in state spending in history. Everyone has felt the effects. We have cut state agencies by 10 percent or more. We have furloughed state workers and eliminated pay raises. We have held 3,400 state jobs vacant - 10 percent of the state workforce.
I will have to make another round of difficult cuts. But we will make these cuts as we have made them before - protecting education, health care, and public safety, and protecting the middle class against tax increases.
While we help our citizens get through this difficult time and back to work, we must also make sure - that as the national economy comes back - Wisconsin is poised to grow and expand.
I have a year left as Governor, and I want to be very clear about what my top priority will be. I will do everything I can to help our businesses create jobs and give our workers the opportunities to get those jobs. Nothing is more important.
Yes, as we look at the state of our state, we are most certainly facing tough challenges. But our people have shown a resolve that is even tougher. THIS is Wisconsin.
I am proud to be Governor of a state where people are making tough decisions in these hard times, yet still looking out for one another.
The story of Mercury Marine is a great example.
One of our flagship Wisconsin companies, Mercury Marine has provided good paying jobs to hardworking families for 70 years. With our nation's economic downturn, Mercury was facing the need to consolidate.
Mercury management made a commitment to Wisconsin. Union workers approved painful concessions. Community leaders put together a local incentive package. I called for - and you quickly passed - new tax credits for companies like Mercury that retain jobs, allowing the state to offer a strong incentive package. I want to thank Speaker Mike Sheridan, who understood the urgency of taking immediate action.
I know how tense these negotiations were. I was working with Mercury executives, union leaders and local officials around the clock.
In the end, Mercury decided to stay in Wisconsin - keeping thousands of jobs here and bringing hundreds of jobs from out of state. It shows what we can do - even in times like these - when we focus and work together toward a common goal.
Tonight, we're joined by people who deserve a lot of credit - Mercury CEO Mark Schwabero, Machinists General Vice President Rich Michalski, Local Union President Mark Zillges, and Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel.
I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Senator Randy Hopper. I was on the phone with him and others many times a day. While some - for political reasons - seemed to want Mercury Marine to leave, Senator Hopper put partisanship aside and quietly did everything he could to keep Mercury in Wisconsin.
As companies like Mercury Marine will tell you - Wisconsin is definitely open for business.
I want to thank Speaker Sheridan, Majority Leader Decker and all the legislators who passed this budget. As a result of your work, Wisconsin now has some of the strongest economic development tools in the country. We're spurring research and development through new incentives. We're giving investors new tools to create start-ups. And we're using powerful new tax credits to help manufacturers create and retain jobs.
As a result of our work, Wisconsin now ranks 30th in business taxes - well below the national average.
With the help of these incentives, over the last year, many other companies have moved their operations from other states to Wisconsin.
When Republic Airways bought Midwest Airlines, people in Wisconsin were concerned. But with our tax incentives, we were able to help Republic establish a major airline hub in Milwaukee, retaining 800 jobs and bringing in 800 more from Colorado and New Mexico. As Republic Airways CEO Bryan Bedford said, "This was a jobs contest between Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Denver - Taxes matter."
Among others, we helped ACCO Brands Corporation, the Herman Miller Company, Enzymatic Therapy, Actuant Corporation, and A&E Incorporated all move operations here from other states - adding hundreds of jobs.
We helped ULINE bring its headquarters - and over 1,000 new jobs - from Illinois to Pleasant Prairie.
In just the last three months, we saw 8 biotech companies relocate here - from Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado and Florida - because we've created a world class bioscience environment and opportunities for entrepreneurs to raise more capital.
One of the biggest Fox Valley employers -- Oshkosh Corporation -- won a major defense contract with the help of our tax credits. They could create or retain 2,000 manufacturing jobs to supply our soldiers with safe, innovative vehicles.
And we've brought a Spanish train manufacturer here to build high speed trains. With the Obama Administration's support, Wisconsin is poised to be the nation's leader in high speed rail manufacturing.
But despite these successes, there is more we need to do to position Wisconsin's economy for the future.
Let's pass the Wisconsin CORE Jobs Act, authored by Senators Lassa and Kreitlow. This proposal builds on my Accelerate Wisconsin plan by providing millions more in tax credits for angel and venture capital investments. It also strengthens successful programs for manufacturing, research and development, and worker training.
Let's also pass legislation to create a Regional Transit Authority in southeast Wisconsin. I want to thank the legislators from southeast Wisconsin, led by Senator Lehman and Representative Barca, who worked on this proposal with my Administration.
Make no mistake, this is a jobs bill.
Last week, I stood with CEOs of some of Wisconsin's largest employers -- Tim Sullivan of Bucyrus, Ed Zore of Northwestern Mutual, Fisk Johnson of SC Johnson, Bob Mariano of Roundy's, and Scott VanderSanden of AT&T Wisconsin.
They said a regional transit authority is critical for the future of their companies. Tim Sullivan said it best - "This is not a want; this is an absolute need for the community."
These CEOs represent hundreds of companies that employ thousands of people in southeast Wisconsin who all say this has to be done. Let's listen to them and pass this bill.
Let's also extend the expired dairy modernization tax credit to help our hard-pressed dairy farmers invest in their operations. With milk prices rebounding from record lows, these tax credits will help farmers position their businesses for future growth as the economy turns around.
In addition, we can help our agriculture industry create jobs by enacting a Food Processing Modernization Tax Credit - a strategy that has worked in other industries. This tax credit will allow companies to invest in new technologies, find savings, expand their operations, and create jobs.
Our country will emerge from this recession and when that happens, Wisconsin is positioned for the future. We are helping our bedrock industries like agriculture and manufacturing.
But we must also seize the opportunity to grow a strong new part of our economy in clean energy.
Wisconsin has no natural gas - no coal - and no oil. Every year, we send $16 billion out of our state to power our homes and businesses and fuel our cars. Building a clean energy economy is an enormous opportunity to capture those dollars.
Clean energy technology and high-end manufacturing are Wisconsin's future. We have the research capacity - and we have the forests, fields and farms to be the leader in the clean energy economy.
Four years ago, we became one of the first states to enact renewable portfolio standards. These standards require a portion of our energy to be produced from renewable sources.
As a result, we've seen a rapid expansion in renewable energy production and real growth in clean energy jobs. We are one of the leading producers of ethanol in the country. And we have more than 300 companies and thousands of jobs in the wind industry.
Many businesses are already taking advantage of this opportunity as the world moves rapidly in this direction.
Tower Tech, a wind tower manufacturer in Manitowoc, didn't even exist a few years ago. But today, due to renewable portfolio standards, they employ 170 highly skilled workers.
Nature Tech in Milwaukee is an example of a great new start-up that has developed a process to make energy efficient insulation from old newspapers. It's safer because it doesn't burn, and it takes one-tenth the energy to produce compared to standard insulation.
Energy Performance Specialists in McFarland is a new company specializing in energy efficient lighting. They were so successful in reducing energy consumption at a Madison state office building that MG&E thought the meter was broken.
The Crave Brothers Farm in Waterloo represents the future of modern agriculture. Through new technologies, they're using farm waste to generate enough power for 300 homes and finding innovative ways to produce the best cheese in the world while creating clean energy jobs.
We Energies and Domtar plan to build a power plant fueled by biomass from the paper mill in Rothschild, turning wood waste into electricity and creating 550 jobs.
Companies like Virent are leading innovation in new fuels. Johnson Controls and Orion Energy have developed strong businesses based on energy efficiency. Companies like Wind Capital Group, Waukesha Electric, ZBB Energy, Helios USA, Cardinal Glass, Renewegy, and many others provide good jobs for people making solar panels, components for wind turbines and advanced battery products.
None of these Wisconsin companies would be producing these jobs without good government policy and renewable energy standards.
This is not some pie in the sky. Anyone who says there aren't jobs in the clean energy economy had better open their eyes.
Let's quickly pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act to create new jobs in Wisconsin.
This bill will strengthen our renewable portfolio standards to generate 25 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2025. And we'll reduce our energy consumption by 2 percent by 2015 by improving energy efficiency in our businesses and homes. I want to thank Senators Miller and Plale and Representatives Black and Soletski for working hard to develop this bill.
We will keep more of our energy dollars in our state. And we will create more than 15,000 clean energy jobs in Wisconsin - not just in these new fields, but in construction, manufacturing, and agriculture.
Let's not let partisanship get in the way of passing this bill and making Wisconsin a leader in the clean energy economy.
But the opportunities don't just lie with clean energy companies. Wisconsin is also home to many of the country's largest and most innovative manufacturers who are finding major savings through energy efficiency. I have made it a priority to help these businesses expand these efforts.
For example, we are the only state directing 100 percent of our state energy funds from the Recovery Act - more than $55 million - to help our biggest manufacturers bring down their costs through energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Companies like Kohler, Quad Graphics, NewPage, Wausau Paper, Domtar and Thilmany Paper are already creating hundreds of jobs through these energy saving efforts.
But we can do more. Tonight, I am announcing the establishment of the Wisconsin Green to Gold Fund. By streamlining existing state resources, we are creating a new $100 million revolving loan fund for manufacturers to reduce their energy costs.
We will also help small and mid-sized manufacturers move into the clean energy economy. We will invest $1.75 million through the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership - to help these smaller manufacturers use sustainable practices to save money and gain a competitive edge.
For the last seven years, we've protected another key priority.
Even in this tough economy - even with a big health care debate raging in Washington - we have found practical ways to help hardworking people get basic health care.
We have the 2nd highest percentage of people covered in the nation, and we are ranked 1st in health care quality.
Four years ago, I stood before you with a bold proposal to make Wisconsin America's health care leader by providing health care access to 98 percent of our citizens. I am proud that we have made it happen.