MADISON – Senator Julie Lassa (D - Stevens Point) voiced her support for Governor Doyle’s economic development, pro-family and clean energy initiatives as outlined in his fifth State of the State address.
“The Governor’s ‘Agenda of Opportunity’ includes some very innovative proposals that will strengthen Wisconsin’s families and communities. It really is a new day in Wisconsin, and I look forward to working with Governor Doyle to make his vision a reality,” Lassa said.
Health care was a major focus of the Governor’s address, as he proposed to expand Badger Care Plus to include all children in the state and as well as low income families without children. He also proposed the creation of a reinsurance pool to make it more affordable for small businesses to provide catastrophic health coverage available to workers.
“The health care crisis affects each of us, and we simply can’t afford to ignore it any longer. I support the Governor’s call for Wisconsin to be America’s leader in making sure all of our citizens have access to affordable medical care.”
Governor Doyle announced that he will dedicate $40 million in his budget proposal for renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydrogen, biodiesel and ethanol. He also called for the creation of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming comprised of businesses, industry, environmental organizations, local governments and private citizens. The Task Force will develop a state plan of action to explore state and local solutions to global warming.
“Our future depends on developing new sources of energy that can fuel our economic growth without polluting our environment or contributing to global warming,” Lassa said. “I’m proud that Wisconsin will be a leader in the quest for real solutions to our energy needs.
The Governor’s economic development initiatives include a new loan program for to help companies and researchers develop new renewable energy technologies and speed up the commercialization of those innovations. The Wisconsin Energy Independence Grant and Loan Program will provide $30 million in grants and loans for these companies and researchers developing new technologies.
“This is a great example of how government can work with private industry to promote energy independence and create new jobs and economic development at the same time,” Lassa said.
“I also strongly support the Governor’s proposed Venture Center to help new small businesses find the capital they need to get off the ground. This program will provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs to create the jobs of the future,” she said.
Governor Doyle also wants to invest $225 million in a partnership between the state and the UW System to increase the number of college graduates in Wisconsin. Governor Doyle called on UW leaders to expand enrollment, improve student retention, create new science and engineering programs, provide more support for adult students, and train more teachers and nurses. A portion of these funds will also increase financial aid for our students.
“I’m especially excited about the Governor’s support for a new Health Sciences major at UW-Stevens Point,” Lassa said. “Our young people will have the opportunity to train for some of the best and most in-demand professions available, and our health care institutions will benefit from a supply of talented new graduates.”
“We can’t meet the challenges that face us if we don’t have the educated work force to do the job,” Lassa said. “At the same time, our young people deserve to know that if they study and work hard, there is help for them to achieve the dream of a college education.”
“In my new role as chair of the Economic Development, Job Creation, Family Prosperity and Housing Committee, I look forward to working with the Governor to set these proposals in motion,” she said.
Governor Doyle also announced a new effort to streamline state children’s services. The proposal will merge child welfare, child support, child care services and the W-2 program into a single agency, to be called the Wisconsin Department of Children and Family Services.
“This new department, the first to focus solely on the needs of children, will ensure that Wisconsin kids have the chance to grow up safe, healthy and successful in strong families,” Lassa said. “The move will also reduce duplication between the Department of Health and Family Services and the Department of Workforce Development, allowing each agency to focus on health care and job training.”