A Column of Personal Opinion by State Senator Sheila Harsdorf
An eventful 2014 has drawn to a close and the end of the year provides us with a good time to reflect on the year that has passed. Here are the top ten headlines and events of 2014 in Wisconsin in my view.
Growing Economy – Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.2%, the lowest since October 2008. 51,000 private sector jobs were created in Wisconsin between November 2013 and November 2014.
Tax Relief – Surplus revenues were returned to hard-working taxpayers, including $400 million in property tax cuts to reduce the technical college portion on property tax bills.
St. Croix River Crossing – 2014 saw significant progress on the St. Croix River Crossing, including the construction of piers rising from the river. The new bridge is scheduled to open in fall 2016.
Encouraging Job Creation – The State Legislature continued its focus on boosting jobs and the economy through additional investments in worker training and reducing unnecessary red tape for employers.
Addressing Heroin Addiction – The H.O.P.E. package and other bills were passed to begin addressing the heroin epidemic in Wisconsin. Given the impact of this addiction on young people and families in our western Wisconsin communities I was pleased to be the Senate author of H.O.P.E.
GAAP Deficit Reduced – The state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report was recently released, showing a reduction in the state’s GAAP deficit of $1.6 billion over the past three years. The improvement in this stringent accounting method demonstrates the improving fiscal health of our state.
November Election – Voters in the fall re-elected Governor Walker and returned Republican majorities to both the State Senate and State Assembly.
Transportation Fund Protected – Voters also approved by a 4-1 margin a state constitutional amendment to protect the transportation fund from future raids for other spending purposes.
Wisconsin’s Positive Outlook – Moody’s improved Wisconsin’s bond rating outlook to positive in recognition of the state’s honest budgeting, improved rainy day fund, and stable retirement system.
Oral Chemotherapy Parity – Legislation was enacted to help ensure cancer patients have access to the treatment that is most effective in fighting their cancer, whether it is intravenous or oral chemotherapy.
It is an honor serving as your State Senator and I look forward to continuing to work to move Wisconsin forward in 2015. I wish you and your family a healthy and happy New Year! Please stay in touch by visiting my website at www.harsdorfsenate.com or calling my office at 1-800-862-1092 or 608-266-7745.