It's been a difficult year for Wisconsin, but Gov. Jim Doyle (D) struck an upbeat tone during his Jan. 26 state of the state address. Despite budget cuts, furloughs and pay and hiring freezes, Doyle warned that more cuts were on the horizon, although he vowed to continue "protecting education, health care and public safety and protecting the middle class against tax increases."
Doyle, who announced last summer that he would not seek a third term as governor, also urged lawmakers to provide more tax credits for investors, dairy farmers and the food-processing industry. He supported creating a regional transit authority for the southeastern corner of the state.
Like several other Midwestern governors, Doyle was enthusiastic about his state's prospects for clean-energy production. He called on the Democratic-controlled Legislature to approve new renewable energy standards, a move he said would create 15,000 new jobs. He also announced a new $100 million revolving loan fund that would help manufacturers cut down on energy use.
"This is not some pie in the sky," he said. "Anyone who says there aren't jobs in the clean-energy economy had better open their eyes."
Doyle also hailed his state's health care system, which, he said, has given Wisconsin the second highest percentage of people covered in the country. He announced a new initiative that would create a self-funded plan for $130 a month for people who are on the waiting list for the state's health care program.
"Look, I know that without a job — or even with a low-paying job - $130 a month isn't easy," he acknowledged. "But it is something."
On taxes, the governor pointed to his record of helping move the state lower on the list of the highest taxed, but promised to do more. He urged lawmakers to set in motion a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to offer property tax relief.
The governor also expressed support for a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee schools.