It is well past time to focus like a laser on job creation. On that need, I agree wholeheartedly with the goal I hear my Republican colleagues talking about for a special session in October.
In fact, I wish instead of merely gaveling in the special session last week, they had actually had legislators on the floor passing bills that create jobs now.
And while this should have happened months ago, I appreciate that the governor finally included some of the Democratic jobs bills we have been pushing since we circulated them on the first day of session in January.
It is appropriate to put jobs bills into a special session to rush them through with the goal of creating jobs quickly. Unemployment in Wisconsin has risen at five times the national rate since January and we should have been focused sooner on putting people back to work rather than trampling workers’ rights, damaging education and passing bills that provide large giveaways to special interests.
Here is what I propose: Democratic and Republican legislators working together to select about a dozen of the best job creation bills that have immediate potential to put people back to work – and taking them up right away in a special session.
That would be bipartisan. That would be progress. And that would help Wisconsin’s struggling middle class.
A special session is designed to pass timely and critical legislation quickly. The downside is that the vehicle of a special session cuts down on public involvement and input, which has been a strong Wisconsin value for generations. Nonetheless, I believe the public is willing to support a special session if we are putting forward bills that will help create family-supporting jobs immediately.
However, the agenda of roughly 30 bills that we were given by the governor includes a large number of bills that have nothing to do with job creation and should not be rushed, but rather given full scrutiny by the public, legislative service agencies and other stakeholders.
These bills fall into two categories. First are bills on such topics as trespassing and wellness programs, which may be fine, but are not urgent enough issues to be rushed.
And there are other bill ideas here that may potentially cause harm – to jobs, to consumers and to the environment – such as bills that appear to impact mining and bills that remove corporate accountability.
It’s high past time that we quit bringing forward divisive legislation and – on a bipartisan basis – focus on true economic development bills that have the potential for rapid job creation.
These non-jobs bills cloud our ability to focus like a laser on putting people back to work. When it comes to helping Wisconsin’s struggling families, we can’t afford distractions.
Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, is the Assembly minority leader.