State first to enact renewable portfolio standards
With Wisconsin’s economy as his focus, Gov. Jim Doyle delivered his final State of the State Address Tuesday night in Madison.
During his final year in office, Doyle said he wants to “make sure Wisconsin is ready and poised to grow and expand.”
Part of that growth will involve what Doyle called Wisconsin’s “bedrock industries” – agriculture and manufacturing – but a larger portion of Doyle’s plans center around a conversion to a “clean energy economy.”
Wisconsin became the first state to enact renewable portfolio standards, which dictate that a certain percentage of the state’s energy is produced by renewable means, including wind turbines and solar panels. The original law required 10 percent of Wisconsin’s energy be renewable by 2015, but a new bill would up the requirement to 25 percent by 2025, Doyle said.
The development and construction of new energy resources would help initiate the conversion.
“Anyone who says there aren’t jobs in the clean energy economy had better open their eyes,” Doyle said.
The combination of cheaper energy costs and tax incentives would help attract and retain manufacturing jobs, Doyle said.
The governor also repeated requests for the state Legislature to pass bills that would create a regional transit authority in southeastern Wisconsin and give control of the Milwaukee Public Schools to the city’s mayor. Both moves would eventually improve the economic condition of the state’s largest city, Doyle said.
Doyle’s economic visions aren’t without their opponents.
Hours before the Democratic governor’s address, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker delivered his own “State of the Economy” speech in the rotunda of the capitol building.
Walker said the Doyle administration has increased government spending and taxes and that such moves are making Wisconsin a less desirable place to do business.
“It’s time for us to take our government back and to move our state in a new direction,” Walker said. ”A direction founded on the principles of limited government, economic opportunity and personal freedom.”
Taking this direction would include reductions in government spending, regulation, taxation and improvements in education, Walker said.
Support and criticism of Doyle’s speech was divided mostly across party lines.
“(Doyle’s) plan, combined with federal efforts, will help transform Wisconsin, encourage business development and set us on a path to rebuilding a strong economy,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin said.
Republican legislators weren’t as optimistic. State Rep. Rich Zipperer said in a statement that Doyle approved $5 billion in taxes and approved misguided policies such as raising car insurance rates.
State Sen. Alberta Darling said in a statement that Doyle’s agenda would cause energy costs to rise, which would chase jobs and families from the state.
“It’s not enough for Gov. Doyle to merely say his focus is on the economy — he must follow through with action,” Darling said.