Wisconsin can’t move forward with Scott Walker

By Urban Media News

Mary Burke

Mary Burke

Despite Scott Walker’s central campaign promise in 2010 to create 250,000 new private-sector jobs, Walker has rejected thousands of clean energy jobs that our state desperately needs.

Clean energy opportunities don’t just represent new jobs; they represent the new industries of the 21st century.

Manufacturing has long been a cornerstone of the Wisconsin economy, and our abundant natural resources allow us to harness that skilled and talented workforce to create a diverse energy profile and be a leader in clean energy in the years ahead.

Local communities like Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha, which once served as an economic catalyst for the state, would see revitalization through an influx of good paying clean energy jobs that would both protect our state’s natural resources and put people back to work.

Pursuing clean energy jobs should be a no-brainer for any governor, let alone a governor whose central campaign promise was to create jobs.

Walker ignored the conventional wisdom of clean energy jobs as the jobs of future, and instead launched attack after attack on the burgeoning renewable energy industry.

Walker, who received at least $1.5 million in campaign cash directly from interests opposed to wind energy and much more indirectly, almost immediately after taking office created some of the most restrictive wind siting rules in the country.

The new rules require wind turbines to be at least 1,800 feet from property lines, making it nearly impossible for wind turbines to be built anywhere in the targeted areas.

The Republican-controlled legislature would eventually rollback our statewide wind siting rules, causing industry uncertainty, disrupting 11 planned wind farms totaling $1.8 billion in investments, and chasing away approximately 1,000 jobs.

But even before sticking it to the wind industry, and in fact before even taking office, Walker shut down high-speed rail in Wisconsin, sending $810 million in federal dollars and thousands of jobs to other states that would build and operate trains.

According to the Sierra Club, high-speed rail would have brought thousands of jobs to Wisconsin, in addition to $173 million in additional household income, and $704 million in increased property values.

Not only did Scott Walker’s rejection of the $810 million federal stimulus package for high-speed rail cost the state big bucks, it also prevented the state from connecting people in western Wisconsin and Madison to economic centers like Milwaukee and Chicago.

Walker took a second swing at rail by removing the $100 million in bonding authority for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail.

The governor’s myopic decision cost southeast Wisconsin the chance to reduce traffic, stimulate development, help workers whose job opportunities are limited by lack of affordable, reliable transportation, and create 4,700 new construction jobs at the same time.

Walker’s budgets haven’t been friendly for green jobs either.

The governor’s 2011- 2013 budget gutted funding for the successful “Focus on Energy” program.

“Focus on Energy” exists to save both residents and businesses money on their monthly energy bills. In its first 10 years, the programs created 24,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in additional sales for Wisconsin’s businesses that would not have existed otherwise.

The same budget that gutted “Focus on Energy” cut recycling funding by 40 percent, putting in jeopardy a program which created 97,000 jobs and eliminated the need for five landfills in the state since 1990.

Since 2011, Wisconsin is dead last in the Midwest in terms of job growth.

We can’t afford to send more jobs and opportunities to our neighbors in places like Iowa and Illinois, who are reaping the economic benefits of green jobs and clean energy.

While Walker talks big on job creation, his track record shows a commitment to jobs that only extends as far as the interests of the big, corporate donors who line his campaign coffers.

Wisconsin will never be a leader in job creation or clean energy with Scott Walker as governor. It’s time for a new direction in our state, one that focuses on creating jobs today, and invests in the technology and industry of tomorrow.