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Governors state their case for growth

Cite job skills, federal rules


**FILE** Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (standing, in red) and state Rep. Peter Barca (in yellow), Kenosha Democrat, talk June 12, 2012, during Walker’s “brat summit” at the executive residence in the Village of Maple Bluff, Wis. (Associated Press/Wisconsin State Journal)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, just one week removed from his victorious recall election, told a group of business leaders in Washington on Wednesday his state is now “open for business.”

“The biggest thing keeping [businesses] from [investing] was the recall election,” Mr. Walker said.

He was part of a bipartisan quartet of governors – also on hand were Delaware’s Jack Markell, a Democrat, and Nebraska’s Dave Heineman and Utah’s Gary Herbert, both Republicans – who took part in an economic roundtable at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Jobs Summit.

As part of the conference, the chamber released its third annual “Enterprising States” study, which called for policies that would encourage entrepreneurship and innovation while reducing taxes and regulations.

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the national organization, said regulations have kept companies from becoming “fast and nimble.”

“We need a smarter regulatory system,” he said.

Mr. Walker agreed.

“The reason why we’re able to be the leader of the free world is because we’re the leader of free enterprise,” he said.

The federal government needs to be more business friendly, the governors said.

“It’s an attitude,” Utah’s Mr. Herbert said. “It’s saying to the marketplace, ‘We value the entrepreneur, and we’re going to make sure we have a government that gets off your backs and out of your wallets.’”

Delaware’s Mr. Markell pointed out that companies have plenty of places to locate or relocate, including overseas, so states have to do a better job persuading them to stay in the U.S.

“Businesses have to feel wanted,” Mr. Markell said. “I think we’ve got to recognize that businesses have lots of choices, and they’ve got to feel that you will do anything you can to make them successful.”

Mr. Donohue said the country’s workforce right now simply hasn’t been trained for the available jobs. He pointed out that there are about 3.5 million openings going unfilled because employers can’t find the right talent.

To solve this problem, Mr. Donohue called for an increased focus on training: focusing on “hometown talent,” while also competing for the world’s most skilled workers.

The study also suggested tax credits for companies that hire more workers, breaks for businesses in targeted industries, and incentives for investors in startup businesses.

The study also showed that many states are identifying and targeting high-potential foreign markets and connecting with partners abroad.

In Nebraska, where the unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, the governor’s strategy for pulling the state out of the recession has been simple.

“We don’t spend money we don’t have,” Mr. Heineman said.

Mr. Walker agreed.

“It’s not just spending more,” he said, “it’s spending taxpayers’ money more wisely.”

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About the Author

Tim Devaney

Tim Devaney is a national reporter who covers business and international trade for The Washington Times. Previously, he worked for the Detroit News, Grand Rapids Press, Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News. Tim can be reached at

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