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Monday, January 18, 2010

 10:26 PM 

Jobs top priority, Decker tells "UpFront"

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker said on Sunday's "UpFront with Mike Gousha" that job creation will be the continued focus as the Legislature returns to session.

The Center on Wisconsin Strategy reported the state lost more than 163,800 jobs between December 2007 and November 2009 as recession gripped the state and national economy.

Decker, D-Weston, noted that the Legislature tripled the amount of investor tax credits in the last state budget, which he said has spurred some job creation, and that the focus now will be on helping businesses in the state expand through passage of the CORE Jobs Act.

"We're really going to gear it to small businesses in the state of Wisconsin," Decker said.

Decker also said the state has boosted its spending on infrastructure, which is creating construction and construction equipment manufacturing jobs and giving businesses improved infrastructure to use.

"It's our responsibility to keep the roads and the bridges and the airports and the harbors going," Decker said. "Those are all something that makes a better, more safe and efficient transportation system, and those are Wisconsin companies hiring Wisconsin workers."

Decker credited the federal economic stimulus plan with helping to stave off steep budget cuts and defended the state's new requirement that businesses in Wisconsin headquartered elsewhere pay state income tax, saying it is fair and that 87 percent of Wisconsin companies were not affected by it.

Decker said he is "very confident" that Democrats would retain their hold on the state Senate in the face of what some expect could be a rocky year for Dems.

"We're not giving ground to the Republicans on any area," Decker said. "We think we can compete with them on taxes or education or job development or health care. So we think we're on good solid ground."

Also on the program, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett discussed what he described as his final major compromise on governance reform for Milwaukee Public Schools.

Barrett's compromise plan retains his original call that the mayor appoint the MPS superintendent, but it would now grant the board veto power over the appointment.

Barrett said the compromise would set up a system of accountability and governance similar to city government.

The plan has been met with a cool reception thus far, and Decker said on the program that legislation to change the district's governance would likely not move forward until there was community support for the idea. At this point, Decker said he believe there are not enough votes in the Senate to pass the measure.

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