The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Doyle warns of tough road ahead

  • Governor Jim Doyle gave his State of the State address Wednesday.
  • He said budget cuts are necessary, and that the future will be "a time of sacrifice."
  • Doyle stressed that the loss of jobs has been the most devastating part of this crisis.
  • He called on the citizens of Wisconsin to pull together in this tough time.

Gov. Jim Doyle reiterated his three biggest priorities in his State of the State address Wednesday: good schools, affordable health care and police and fire protection.

Doyle warned of tough times ahead and laid the groundwork for the next two years.

The credit crunch, plunging markets and lagging consumer confidence have pushed the state – as well as the rest of the country – into a recession.

Though the federal stimulus package will help, it's not the answer to all the challenges facing Wisconsin, Doyle said. The future will be "a time of sacrifice."

"What isn't needed will be cut. And unfortunately, some of what is needed will be cut, too," Doyle said.

Doyle said those three priorities, which he called basic expectations of a government, will be considered first when he drafts his budget. The budget will be released Feb. 10.

Wisconsin faces an estimated budget deficit of $5.4 billion, up from $3.2 billion when Doyle first took office. He said there's "no easy way out," and Wisconsin citizens must work together to get out of this mess.

He told a story of the rescue workers who helped those struck by last spring's floods in southern Wisconsin to illustrate the point that everyone has a role to play in order to get the state back on its feet.

"In the aftermath, it would have been easy to look across an empty lakebed, flooded fields and impassable roads and figure it was all too much to handle," Doyle said.

But it wasn't too much for the people of Wisconsin, Doyle said. Neighbors cared for each other in the time of need, filling sand bags, opening their homes and rebuilding.

"Here in Wisconsin our spirit cannot be doused," he said.

Assembly speaker Mike Sheridan said the purpose of Doyle's speech was to "create a sense of reality about what's going on in this state and country."

Assembly minority leader Jeff Fitzgerald, a Republican representing Horicon, said he wished tax cuts were a part of the address.

"I would like to have heard him say we will not raise taxes to solve this budget crisis, but I didn't hear those words," Fitzgerald said.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said the tone was appropriate, given where the state stands economically.

"The tone is right in the sense that we've got a tough economy and a tough budget deficit," said Walker.

But Walker, who is considered to be a potential gubernatorial candidate for 2010, was critical of some of the points Doyle made, especially regarding tax cuts, or the lack thereof.

"I thought it was interesting that six years ago he went out of his way to point out that there was a deficit that he inherited from the past, and he wasn't going to raise taxes to deal with that, because that would cost jobs, as he said," Walker said.

"In this speech, he didn't say that. To me, that's a sign he's probably going to look to raising taxes, which I think is going to be a bad idea for those of us who are having a tough time with the economy," he said.

Walker said if he were governor, he would use the money coming to Wisconsin almost solely on tax cuts.

"(I'd) try to stimulate the economy and try and distinguish ourselves from Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and other places, and hope that people, jobs and businesses would come here," he said.

Doyle also spent some time trying to quantify the impact of the staggering unemployment numbers, calling to attention to four Janesville plant workers who were laid off.

"The worst consequence of the economic collapse is that, through no fault of their own, many of our country's best workers — here and across the country — have lost their jobs.

"Behind unemployment numbers are real families who have built their lives around jobs that are now gone," he said.

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