The 2013-14 legislative session is now in full swing, with bills being introduced, public hearings being held by legislative committees and the Governor’s budget coming to the Legislature within days. While a wide range of topics will be considered by the State Legislature over the two-year session, our agenda remains focused on improving our state’s business climate, encouraging job growth and growing our economy.
As we hear from job creators and small business owners across our region, three themes consistently emerge. These suggestions include addressing our skills gap, expanding access to capital, and the need to review and streamline regulations. A number of bills already introduced this session are an attempt to address these issues.
In an effort to improve our state’s skills gap, I am co-sponsoring legislation that seeks to promote private-public partnerships to deliver skills training to both new and current workers. Under this proposal, job training grants would be provided on a competitive basis to encourage greater collaboration between employers, economic and workforce development agencies, and technical colleges. I believe this approach will allow flexibility that will benefit both workers and employers and be responsive to innovation and advances in technology.
Another area of improvement suggested by job creators of all sizes – from business incubators, start-up companies, small businesses, and larger firms – is a need for improved access to capital. Neighboring states have frequently outpaced Wisconsin in investment capital for homegrown businesses. I was pleased with the Governor’s recent announcement that seed funding and business development programs will be included in his budget proposal. In particular, I applaud the initiative to invest in programs that encourage start-up businesses and help entrepreneurs create jobs, given their importance to our small and rural communities.
Reducing red tape is another area receiving renewed attention. Employers and small businesses in our area have voiced their concerns regarding the impact and financial implications of excessive regulations. The Legislature will be reviewing rules and evaluating areas where regulations need to be modified.
What do you think should be included in the State Legislature’s jobs agenda? I welcome your comments and input. Please visit my website at www.harsdorfsenate.com or call my office at 1-800-862-1092 or 608-266-7745 with your ideas.