Rock County close to home for Walker
JANESVILLE Scott Walker can’t quite call it his hometown Labor Day parade.
But the Republican candidate for governor certainly is familiar with the community. Walker grew up in Delavan and graduated from Delavan-Darien High School in 1986.
“Our idea of a good time was to go to Janesville to eat at the Ponderosa—or the old Shakey’s—and go walk around the Janesville Mall,” Walker said.
Walker talked with the Gazette while he waited in a long line of politicians who walked in Monday’s parade through downtown Janesville.
These days, when Walker comes to Janesville, he hears people worrying about their jobs, he said.
Walker said his challenge if elected would be to create 250,000 non-government jobs by the end of his first term in office. One way to do that is to make it less expensive for businesses to operate in Wisconsin, Walker said.
“Wisconsin is more expensive than other states to do business,” Walker said.
He would start by working to lower the cost of taxes, regulations and litigation, Walker said. The high cost of health care also must be addressed, he said.
Even lowering income taxes would make it more likely for businesses to locate in Wisconsin, Walker said.
It’s the take-home pay, not the gross wage, that directly affects workers, he said. If businesses want to lure the best employees, they might have to pay more in Wisconsin to bring up the amount of take-home pay, he said.
A focus on Wisconsin’s infrastructure also would boost the number of jobs in the state, Walker said. He supports a proposal to expand Interstate 90/39 to three lanes between the Illinois line and Madison.
Such an expansion would positively increase the volume of traffic into Rock County and put local construction companies to work, he said.
Along with increasing the number of jobs in the state, Walker said he has a plan to address the state’s ballooning budget deficit.
He supports requiring state workers to pay in toward their own pension funds as workers in the private sector do. Currently, the state pays both the employee and employer portions of state workers’ pensions, he said.
That cut would save about $360 million, he said.
Walker said another way to cut costs would be to stop budgeting for some of the 4,000 state jobs that have been unfilled in recent years. If the jobs are not public safety related and have been vacant for more than a year, “take the money out and put it toward balancing the budget,” he said.
Rock County residents aren’t alone in worrying about their jobs, Walker said. The conversation changes a little depending on where you travel, Walker said.
In the northern part of the state, the conversation is about the lumber industry; folks in the southwest talk about farm jobs, he said.
Walker said he has worked with Forward Janesville and other business-supporting organizations.
“As governor, I would be very much involved in Rock County,” Walker said.
Walker faces former Congressman Mark Neumann in the Republican primary for governor Sept. 14.