WisBusiness: Legislators to focus first on economic stimulus through infractructure spending

By WisBusiness Staff

As the new legislative session opens in Madison, Democratic legislative leaders say jobs are the top priority.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, said his first priority for the new legislative session will be passing an economic stimulus package for the state that emphasizes building roads and bridges.

And new Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan said his top issues for the upcoming session are “jobs, jobs, jobs,”

“After that it’s the economy,” said Sheridan, D-Janesville.

“The big thing that’s going to dominate everything around here is going to be our economic stimulus package,” Decker said of the first month of the session.

Decker had previously indicated the first order of business would be to raise the state’s minimum wage and index it to inflation, but Monday he indicated all other orders of business beyond the stimulus package would be secondary.

Decker said the package would likely correspond with a federal stimulus package for states. He criticized early remarks from Senate GOP leadership that ruled out tax increases and federal help.

“If someone has a way to cut $5.4 billion out of the state budget, they ought to be rolling out those plans,” Decker said.

On the GOP side, Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau said his party stands ready to assist majority Democrats in alleviating the state’s “unprecedented budget deficit.”

Fitzgerald said he hoped Dems would reach out to his party, adding that both sides agree on many of the problems facing the state, including the need to mitigate the high tax burden, rebuild the economy, and reform health care and education.

Still, Fitzgerald said differences remain on how best to solve those issues.

“We cannot and will not shy away from discussing those issues,” Fitzgerald said. “Increasing taxes, any taxes, will only make the burden higher.”