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Scott Walker's Wisconsin: 'Closed for Business'

April 1, 2011

Sign on construction site: "not hiring"

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared upon his election that “Wisconsin is open for business."


But since taking office, Walker has spent more time driving away new businesses and eliminating good jobs than attracting new investment to the state.

One of his first acts in office was to reject billions in federal grants for a high speed rail project that would have created more than 6,000 jobs for Wisconsin residents.

And now his efforts to halt wind energy development has convinced the Chicago energy firm Invenergy to take its proposed 100-turbine wind farm project elsewhere.

An article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says:

The company says it was concerned about moving forward because of the state of flux in Wisconsin’s regulatory climate when it comes to wind siting.

Walker proposed an ultra-restrictive turbine siting bill in January that, says Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association: "[puts] a ‘closed for business’ sign on Wisconsin for wind development."

Wisconsin was posed for $1.8 billion million in wind energy development before Walker’s bill – which makes it all but impossible to get permission to build a turbine in the state – caused some companies to rethink their plans.

Since Walker has taken office, 19 plants have shut down, putting another 2,200 Wisconsinites out of work.

He also has targeted the construction industry, quietly announcing last week that he was suspending apprenticeship rules that have governed state construction projects since 1971.

The regulation required contractors with state contracts to provide apprentices on-the-job training in a skilled trade, providing a pathway to good construction jobs for thousands of young workers. Its suspension, says state Rep. Barbara Toles "will negatively impact people’s ability to gain access to apprenticeships."

Rolling back the apprenticeship program has long been a goal of the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors, one of Walker’s strongest backers.

Says Milwaukee Local 494 Business Manager Daniel Large:

He wants to abolish anything that isn’t good for him and his little corporate clique. He’s killing jobs.

Photo used under a creative commons license from Flickr user leslie feinberg