During his first State of the State address, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers appeared to minimize the significance of jobs creation and unemployment numbers by claiming that “there is more to an economy than than counting job creation.” Evers’ downplaying of the current rosy job numbers in Wisconsin presented a stark departure from the near obsessive attacks from Democrats on former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s jobs record during the campaign season and in his eight years as governor.
During Gov. Evers State of the State address, he spoke of his plans for healthcare and education but appeared dismissive Wisconsin’s jobs record and unemployment rate:
Fixing our economy remains a priority. That’s why just last week I directed the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to create an innovation and entrepreneurship committee focusing on supporting our small businesses, seeding capital funds, and technology development.
But there is more to an economy than counting job creation. And the state of our state is more than just our unemployment rate.
The opportunity we have to offer is not just the number of jobs we create; it’s counted, too, by the number of workers who will work forty hours each week and still won’t make enough to keep their family out of poverty.
The strength of our success is not found solely in fiscal surplus; it’s defined, too, by the number of our kids who will go to school hungry tomorrow.
The metric for our posterity is not just what we keep in the coffers for a rainy day; it’s measured, too, by the quality of the natural resources we’re leaving behind for our kids and their kids after them
Despite Evers’ new tone on jobs, a few months ago Democrats were doing all they could to belittle former Walker’s job creation record during the gubernatorial race. Evers’ former campaign site still reads, “Walker failed to meet his 2010 promise of growing 250,000 private sector jobs, instead using taxpayer funds to pick winners and losers among mega-corporations.”
As recently as October of 2018, Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz’s office published a press release titled “Governor Walker’s Job Creation failure.” The release included a memo with information reportedly from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) with data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment Wages (QCEW). In the release Hintz commented, “These jobs numbers once again confirm that Governor Walker has been a miserable failure when it comes to fulfilling his promises to create jobs.” He also expressed that according to data gathered, “If the Governor had simply kept pace with the national average, Wisconsin would have 114,952 additional jobs since he took office.”
According to the La Crosse Tribune at a 2017 debate for the eight democratic challengers for governor at the time, Walker’s jobs record seemed to be a main talking point for the gubernatorial candidates. The La Crosse Tribune noted that, “The Democrats attacked Walker’s record of job creation and the performance of his job creation agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.”
It was also noted that Doug Kane, who was representing gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, “contended government doesn’t create jobs. Lowering taxes and regulations don’t work either, he said, pointing to the fact that Walker has yet to make good on his promise to create 250,000 new jobs.” Despite Evers’ broad statements regarding that “there is more to an economy than jobs creation,” Democrats and Evers seemed to be very concerned about those numbers a few months ago.
In a press release after the governor’s speech last night, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) pointed out that Evers is able to gloss over jobs numbers now because Republican leadership has improved the jobs outlook of the state:
“Thanks to the last eight years of Republican leadership, Governor Evers is inheriting a state that is strong. Our unemployment rate has been below 3 percent for 11 months straight, our budget has a surplus, our pension system is fully funded, and last budget we were able to invest more actual dollars in schools than ever before. Wisconsin is thriving.
“Moving forward, Senate Republicans will work to make sure that these results are protected for the next generation, and that our prosperity can continue for years to come. We will fight to lower taxes on hard-working families, keep our state open for business, and make sure that Wisconsin is the best place in the nation to work, live, and raise a family.”
Most Republicans would likely agree with the goal of household sustaining jobs that Evers laid out in his speech. Evers, however, did not provide statistics in his speech to make the case that the jobs created on Walker’s watch are predominantly low-paying positions. And Evers’ Democratic colleagues put a far higher premium on bottom line jobs number for the past five years than Evers did Tuesday night.
Sam Morateck is an investigate reporter for Media Trackers. This is reposted from Media Trackers with permission.