Just four years ago, if you asked me what word best described the economic outlook in Wisconsin, “bleak” would have been the first to come to mind. The state faced a $3.6 billion deficit, high unemployment, and a future that was far brighter for big labor and special interests than it was for Wisconsin taxpayers.
But now, Wisconsin is back on a path to prosperity. Businesses are growing, families are going back to work, and by almost every measure of success, Wisconsin’s economy is thriving.
What caused such a dramatic turnaround?
One thing: Governor Scott Walker and the state legislature embarked on an ambitious and bold agenda to bring free market reforms to every corner of the state. Together, legislators worked to reform the state’s broken tax code, free workers from union mandates, repeal the state’s outdated prevailing wage law, and make Wisconsin a better place to live, work and raise a family.
No longer will Badger State employees be compelled to join a labor union and pay dues as a condition of employment. No longer will school districts and local governments be forced to pay up to 45 percent more for labor on taxpayer-financed construction projects. And no longer will the state’s taxpayers be required to carry the burden of out-of-control government benefits.
Plain and simple, Wisconsin is finally on the right track.
New state borrowing has been reduced to the lowest levels in 20 years. Property taxes have been reduced to the lowest levels since 1946, and taxes have been cut by more than $2 billion.
Most importantly, these reforms aren’t just making a difference for lawmakers required to balance the budget. They’re also making a difference in the lives of everyday Wisconsinites and the hard-working families who, for years, had struggled to make ends meet.
Take for example our state’s unemployment rate which, at 4.6 percent, is at a six-year low and almost a full point lower than the national average. Employment is at an all-time high and Wisconsin has literally never had more jobs than it has today.
In 2014, Wisconsin businesses exported more goods than ever before — more than $23.4 billion worth, no doubt helped by the many new businesses flooding into the state.
Families are earning more too. Wisconsin’s median family income is up more than six percent since 2011 to $55,258 a year, rising almost twice as fast as the rest of the country.
The turnaround has been so great that Wisconsin is now ranked the fourth best state in the nation for finding a job — after North Dakota, Texas, and Nebraska. And, if Wisconsin, once weighed down by onerous regulations and costly mandates, can now count itself among the likes of these stunning examples of economic freedom, then clearly the state is doing something right.
Wisconsin is indeed open for business.
Wisconsin’s many successes are thanks to the power of the free market to create opportunity for workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses alike. If anyone had doubts before, then they’d be remiss to overlook the unmistakable evidence that has manifested itself in my home state.
The reforms Wisconsin has made are huge and Americans everywhere are waking up and seeing firsthand confirmation that more of the same big-government policies just won’t work.
Every day, they’re knocking doors, making thousands of phone calls, contacting their legislators, and holding community meetings all for one purpose — educating and engaging citizens to push for free market reforms. They’ve seen the successes in Wisconsin and are hungry for more of the policies that have proven time and time again to improve the quality of life for each and every American.
Americans are ready for change and the politicians should take note: these policies are popular because they work nationwide, not just for the people of Wisconsin.