The mining bill was killed last week by all Democrat and a lone Republican Senator.
After an amazingly productive 14 months where we have transformed Wisconsin's governance, our "Wisconsin is Open for Business" environment has now been jeopardized. Let me be clear; every Democrat in the Assembly and the Senate voted against one of the most productive jobs bill of this, the 100th session, of the Wisconsin Legislature.
I shake my head in frustration as I try to understand the reasoning. Let's ask those who voted against the bill some questions:
Why, Milwaukee area Democrats, have you ignored your mining equipment manufacturers and their union employees? Would they not appreciate the job sustaining work that an in-state mine would bring to their assembly lines? Are there no unemployed in your districts that could fill job openings that additional business would create in those plants?
Why, Northern Wisconsin Democrats, have you rejected the opportunity to bring family sustaining jobs to your constituents? Why have you turned your back on existing businesses and ignored their cries for increased economic activity - so that they may have future viability?
Why, all other Democrat Legislators, after asking at every meeting for the last 14 months - "Where are the jobs bills?" - would you vote against the biggest and best job opportunity bill of the current term? Why wouldn't you consider the Vos/Darling alternative bill that offered many compromises and would have worked for the mining company?
The answers to these questions are suspect at best:
Concerns regarding the environment?
The bill addressed the mining permit process, making it less cumbersome and more certain. If the DNR, EPA, and Army Corp. of Engineers had environmental concerns - a mining permit would not be issued - period. Any company investing tens of millions of dollars just to obtain the permit needs a defined permitting period and certainty that mining can proceed once the permit is issued. Otherwise, why take the investment risk? Businesses must realize a return on their investment to continue to provide paychecks to their employees. With permit in hand, this company(and/or future companies) would invest a BILLION dollars into the Wisconsin economy! This, with no government subsidies, no tax credits, and no future special considerations. Just provide a time certain permit and the investment begins....this is any state governments ideal course to bring jobs.
The jobs are temporary?
Yes, the mine may only operate for 30 to 100 years. However, can any business guarantee they will be around for ever? Of course not. We must unleash our ingenuity and spur economic prosperity to create the new jobs of the future. Who would have thought, only a few years ago, that I would be "penning" this column on an iPad? We need jobs TODAY, not excuses for what may or may not be, 30 plus years from now.
Wisconsin Democrats have not made any serious effort to help craft a viable mine permitting bill. Instead they chose to spew empty rhetoric and block, in any way, a Republican led effort to foster job creation. Opportunity lost.
My Assembly colleagues and I will continue to craft legislation aimed at improving the lot of Wisconsin's families. Those who opposed this legislation should be ready for constituents questions. For those that return next session - when you decide to check partisanship at the door - we welcome you to the table as we continue to work to move Wisconsin's economy FORWARD.