Wisconsin is at a crossroads. The state faces a projected deficit of $2.7 billion next year. Unemployment is hovering around 7.8 percent and shows no sign of declining anytime soon. The state has shed about 70,000 jobs from the manufacturing sector, where it employs roughly 15 percent of its workforce, over the past two years.
On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Wisconsin voters will elect a new governor – either Republican Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker or Democrat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
The new governor will face the daunting challenge of trying to balance the state budget. The only options may be to raise taxes significantly, slash spending or both. Other difficult choices regarding transportation, higher education, the environment and much more will need to be made.
Both Walker and Barrett say they have plans to boost economic development by enacting policies that will retain and create jobs in the state. Both also say they value the state’s higher educational system and want to work to increase the high-potential, cutting-edge technology companies based here.
BizTimes Milwaukee spoke with several business owners and executives in the state who support one of the candidates in the gubernatorial election. Their reasons for supporting specific candidates are myriad, including their beliefs about taxes, higher education, transportation and economic development, as well as the candidates’ backgrounds and experience.
The following are excerpts from the many of conversations BizTimes has had with business executives about the governor’s race in recent weeks.