3,776. That’s the number of manufacturing jobs lost in Wisconsin in 2016. Not gained, lost. While the U.S. economy added hundreds of thousands of jobs monthly, Wisconsin averaged less than a thousand. It’s also necessary to note that average wages across the state fell.
Gov. Scott Walker thinks he's big and bold. Just ask him — they're two of his favorite words to use. Big, bold reform, he says. But there's nothing big or bold about what Gov. Walker has done with Wisconsin's economy. Walker, with the Republican Legislature dutifully marching in lockstep with him on economic issues, has failed the state.
The numbers don't lie. Wages are down, growth is at less than 1 percent, and manufacturing jobs are leaving the state at an alarming rate. This is all happening as the governor continues to hand out hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to corporate CEOs and millionaires under the guise of spurring manufacturing — with no proof that his giveaways are creating new jobs.
Working Wisconsinites are getting a bad deal. Attempts by Democrats to raise wages, boost start-up activity and growth, and provide tax credits to small businesses, not corporate CEOs, are continually rejected by the Republican leadership in Wisconsin. Despite the clear failure of the governor’s agenda, his allies in the state Legislature seem content to let Wisconsin’s economy sputter.
The governor is an experienced political messenger and he will undoubtedly work to bury or spin away from these inexcusable job numbers. It's certainly why his office released the recent job data Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. But we shouldn't let him off the hook.
For six years we've seen this song and dance from the governor. We would get bad job numbers and Walker would tell us it was the fallout from Act 10 that was holding our economy back, or that it was the previous administration’s fault. But it's clear what the real problem is: Gov. Walker's agenda of tax giveaways for millionaires in hopes of gaining their financial support on the campaign trail. It's why the rich are getting richer and working-class wages are stagnant.
This recent jobs report, which the governor has previously called the “gold standard” metric for measuring economic performance in Wisconsin, is the 3,776-pound elephant in the governor's office right now and it’s clear the governor would prefer not to talk about it. He’ll cling to his poll-tested talking points and continue to distance himself from responsibility for Wisconsin’s economy. But too many Wisconsin families are realizing that life isn’t getting better for them despite what the governor says from his bully pulpit or Twitter account. The Walker economy is failing the people of Wisconsin and it’s time for change.
Dianne Hesselbein is the state representative for Wisconsin’s 79th Assembly District, encompassing Middleton and parts of western Dane County. She currently serves as the assistant Democratic leader in the Wisconsin Assembly.
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