The People’s Budget: An Investment for All of Us
By DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman
Perhaps it’s due to my family’s background in construction, or the decade I worked in finance, but the more I dig into Governor Evers’ 2019-2021 proposed budget, the more I am inspired by its aim to rebuild our state’s economic infrastructure and the strategic prioritization of investing where Wisconsin taxpayers will earn the highest return.
From the first increase in the minimum wage in a decade to the $400 million tax cut for the middle class, the People’s Budget is a clear statement of Wisconsin’s values, which were heard consistently at listening sessions throughout the state.
The People’s Budget makes rebuilding our economic infrastructure a priority – our schools, roads, and telecommunications systems have been neglected for far too long. By investing where it is needed most, we will level the playing field for all, while also achieving the highest return on our investment.
Unsurprisingly, Governor Evers clearly understands our schools provide the foundation for a functioning society and a strong, resilient economy. Prioritizing investment in our education system positions our state for continued economic growth.
With this investment, Wisconsin will graduate smart and savvy citizens with the skills necessary to succeed in our economy, either as workers, managers, or entrepreneurs, and to ensure those vital educational opportunities are presented to every student in Wisconsin, regardless of means, location, or ability.
All Wisconsin families and businesses will benefit immensely from improved roads. With a well-maintained and sustainably-funded transportation system, Wisconsin businesses can efficiently get supplies in and products out of our state, tourists are more likely to return to Wisconsin, and our families will have more disposable income that won’t be spent on vehicle repairs due to crumbling roads.
Wisconsin’s lack of connectivity, especially in rural areas, has been an equality of opportunity issue for our residents for far too long. With expanded and improved broadband connectivity, our state’s businesses, regardless of location within Wisconsin, can market their products as efficiently as their global competitors, our rural students can finally complete the same homework assignments that their urban counterparts have been accessing for years, and some of our state’s most marketable regions will now be able to compete for telecommuters and new businesses that previously could not due to lacking connectivity.
The People’s Budget also increases the minimum wage for the first time in a decade. If a Wisconsinite gives their time and energy to a 40-hour work week, they deserve a dignified life in return and that starts with a dignified wage.
This budget takes steps to return Wisconsin to its progressive roots. And when using “progressive,” I’m not talking from a partisan perspective; I’m talking about making actual progress; about moving our state forward for the first time in too long. It hits back against the unprompted attacks on the middle class over the last eight years that only special interests asked for – it restores prevailing wage, repeals right to work, and gets rid of the one-week wait for unemployment claimants who are out of work through no fault of their own.
The People’s Budget is a clear articulation of our state’s values: That what’s good for our kids is good for our state. That the best way to accelerate the virtuous cycle of spending that drives our economy is to invest in our economic infrastructure, not in tax breaks for millionaires. That if you put in the work, you are entitled to the dignity and quality of life afforded from a living wage. That after eight years of divide and conquer politics catering to big money and special interests, we need a Wisconsin for all of us.