Wisconsin is open for business.
That was Gov. Scott Walker’s message when he spoke to local business owners and managers Thursday, May 26, at an event sponsored by the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.
Because the event was held at Centerline Machine, a government contractor, those attending the invitation-only event had to show identification and sign a document indicating their citizenship status.
Walker said he began working to repeal taxes and regulations on corporations as soon as he took office.
“I wanted to start right away with a clear and powerful message to employers all across the state,” Walker said.
Shortly after Walker’s inauguration in January, Republicans introduced bills for $117 million in tax breaks for health savings accounts, corporations that relocate to Wisconsin and for businesses that hire new employees.
At the chamber event, Walker noted that 25,000 new jobs have been created in Wisconsin since he took office. He said 11,500 of those jobs were in manufacturing.
“We’re creating a better environment for the private sector,” Walker said.
Pointing to a survey of CEO perceptions regarding states’ business environments, Walker said Wisconsin has risen from being ranked 41st in 2010 to 24th in 2011.
“Wisconsin moved up 17 spots. That’s the fastest increase of any state in the country,” Walker said regarding the survey conducted by Chief Executive magazine. “Our goal is to make Wisconsin a better place to do business in.”
Walker said Wisconsin is on its way to eliminating the state’s $3.6 billion structural deficit.
“We balanced the state budget without raising taxes or fees,” Walker said.
Petersen describes Madison experience
Prior to Walker’s arrival, state Rep. Kevin Petersen described his experiences in Madison after Republicans passed the controversial bill to end collective bargaining for public workers.
Petersen said hundreds of state troopers were needed to escort legislators out of the Capitol and past angry demonstrators in the halls and around the building.
“You could feel the pressure wave of the crowd shrink in on us,” Petersen said. “The protesters were trying to grab and paw at us.”
He said the protestors’ conduct was hateful, that they spit and swore at the legislators.
A SWAT team escorted the lawmakers down through a steam tunnel and to a state parking garage three blocks away, where they were taken by vans along a closed street to their vehicles.
Petersen said he took off his suit jacket and replaced it with a sweatshirt so that he could drive through Madison without being recognized.
“I saw evil that day in the eyes of the people who wanted to rip me to shreds,” Petersen said.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney has described the protests as relatively peaceful and told Time magazine, “I’m very proud that the people of Wisconsin are engaged in their government and have shown the rest of the world how democracy works.”