By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: jobs, for everyone, must be a priority for our state and federal administrations. In Washington, the Senate stalled President Obama’s American Jobs Act last week; in Madison, the job development landscape is a little brighter with a special legislative session specifically dedicated to getting Wisconsin back to work.
Last Wednesday, the Joint Finance Committee unanimously approved a Democratic bill increasing the amount of advanced manufacturing skills grants for state technical colleges by $400,000 annually. The Committee is comprised of both Democrats and Republicans; perhaps this is evidence that, sometimes, both parties can and do agree. The simple fact is that the Wisconsin economy needs to create more jobs. Although we have much more to do, this is certainly a step in the right direction.
With that in mind, I want to note that job development and economic development go hand in hand. I look forward to the day when businesses and corporations are knocking down the doors to our city and our state, but, in order to make this a reality, we need to market ourselves as a desirable workforce.
It is important that we become involved in decisions that affect our ability to attain and hold jobs. The transit cuts in the biennial 2011- 2013 state budget could mean limited prospects for new public transit funding and higher fares for the Milwaukee County Transit System. Transit is a vital aspect of our city’s infrastructure and a necessity for thousands of citizens. I have introduced a bill that would deduct the cost of transit passes from employees’ salaries before taxes. Transportation is a key component of economic development and sustainability. The bill was referred to the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions, and the Governor called for it in the special session on Tuesday.
We must also keep ourselves informed of the opportunities that are already available to us. Against the odds, many of us have prospered by opening our businesses. And I want to make sure others know that that is an attainable goal. VETransfer.org and the Minority Business Enterprise Program are great ways for you to start and grow your business.
So I will end this column with the same declaration with which it began: jobs, for everyone must be a priority. It is up to us, as a nation, as a state, and as a city, to take the steps that will turn our economy around.