Imagine Wisconsin in 2020, and let’s get it done

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Wisconsin 2020. Let’s say we get it done. Let’s enact and implement all of the great ideas floating around Wisconsin on how to improve our economy.
First, let’s take a look at the list of what needs to be accomplished: capping the growth of government, regulatory relief, venture capital formation, eliminating the death tax, broadband adoption, linking the colleges and universities with the business community, finishing the Marquette Interchange, high-speed rail, K-12 reform (especially in Milwaukee), shared revenue reform, health care reform and the list goes on. Let’s say we get it all done in the next few years.
If we can, here’s what Wisconsin could look like in the year 2020:
Welcome to the future. We live in an innovation-based economy. Manufacturers, who have prospered, have found that they ensure their place in the supply-chain with their ability to change and adapt. Intellectual property, like special metal formulas or specialized manufacturing processes, is fused with their products. Worker productivity skyrockets with the adoption of new technologies.
There are no multiple phone numbers or devices, simply one tool that continuously is actively receiving information, including phone calls, e-mails, news updates and scheduling changes – all on the fly. There is a "cloud" of high-speed broadband service surrounding us, even while we are traveling 65 mph on the Interstate.
Odds are that people under 40 likely work for a start-up or a small company under 5 years old. Because we finally developed a robust venture capital network, our educational institutions (like WARF at UW-Madison) stopped looking 1,000 miles away for capital and decided to keep our companies and people in Wisconsin.
We are attracting talent, not exporting it. Our demographic nightmare, more people retiring than entering the workforce, is reversing itself.
Agriculture is robust. Research science and health management have contributed to next-generation foods and manufacturing processes that allow even higher food quality. Preventative care programs and health savings accounts have shifted the focus of health management from the health care provider to the individual.
People still work a lot, but their personal lives are more balanced because three generations now will live in Wisconsin, thanks to a new tax climate that has allowed it.
It would seem this dream has no impediment from becoming a reality; that smart people will win and Wisconsin wins for keeping them here. However, it will take hard work and tremendous energy.
We must stop shooting ourselves in the foot. We must get rid of the death tax, slow the growth of government spending and invest here at home.
We need to stop looking at the future as merely budget-to-budget. Rather, we should be making decisions now with the future in mind so that we are ready for the ensuing changes.
We must reform our government institutions. Our education system is strong, but it has a weak link. Unless the children of Milwaukee leave Milwaukee Public Schools, charter schools or choice schools with an excellent education, we will not prosper as a state. It is vital that those children are educated rather than incarcerated. Shared revenue must be reformed to focus on reducing the cost of government while still maintaining a quality of services.
Cooperation and consolidation efforts are difficult processes, but they are essential for local governments to keep the overall costs down.
And most importantly, we must have energy and a relentless commitment to growing Wisconsin.
State Sen. Ted Kanavas represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes Waukesha. He can be reached at (608) 266-9174.
October 1, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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