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Educating our way to a Stronger Wisconsin

As the husband of a teacher and a father of four children, Tom understands the complex issues that face our education system. As governor, he will invest in Wisconsin’s schools so our children are prepared for the challenges of the future.

Wisconsin has the most industrious workforce in the country; Tom knows we must make sure it’s the most highly skilled and versatile. We must make sure our education system – from kindergarten to technical schools and colleges – empowers the people of our state with the skills to be competitive in a global economy. Tom knows we must also invest in world-class research and development initiatives that improve quality of life with groundbreaking advances, while also harnessing cutting-edge technology to create the jobs for a 21st century economy.

Quality K-12 Education for Wisconsin’s Children

Elementary classroom setting. Focus on teacher and chalkboard.

Tom knows that education has never been more important than it is today. It’s no secret that our local school districts are facing very difficult decisions as a result of the worst economic downturn in generations. Tom will fight for a strong public K-12 school system in Wisconsin to make sure that every child has access to quality schools that will prepare students for the future.

High-quality and affordable higher education

Wisconsin’s colleges and universities are valuable assets to our state’s economic engine. Tom understands that we must work together to make college more affordable and accessible for Wisconsin’s working and middle class families. The reality of today’s global economy is that many of the good-paying jobs require an education beyond high school. To get Wisconsin working again, we must make a commitment to our community colleges, technical schools, and four-year universities to educate our children and retrain our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.

Tom Barrett – A Real Record of Success on Education

Tom has been one of the fiercest advocates for education in Wisconsin. In Congress, he fought for millions in funding for Wisconsin schools, and he led the charge for SAGE funding to reduce classroom sizes, ensuring kids get more individual attention from teachers.

As Milwaukee Mayor, Tom fought for reform to turn around failing schools. He also launched the Youth Summer Jobs Program, placing Milwaukee high school students in the workplace to give young people real world job experience. More than 3,000 Milwaukee teens have participated in the program.

Tom’s passion for education will continue as governor, and protecting education will be an urgent priority in the Barrett Administration.

Making Healthcare Affordable

The people of Wisconsin expect their leaders to stand with them to reduce health care costs for families and businesses so we can get our economy moving and make sure quality health care is affordable and accessible.

By working together and bringing all players to the table, Tom believes Wisconsin can maintain our commitment to providing quality health care to working and middle class families, while controlling costs to businesses and families.

With successes like BadgerCare and BadgerCare Plus, Wisconsin has long been a leader in the effort to provide health insurance coverage to those that don’t qualify for Medicaid, and ensuring that all Wisconsin children have access to quality health care.

As governor, Tom will continue to support these successful initiatives, and will fight to make sure that Wisconsin gets its fair share of federal resources so the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act works for Wisconsin working and middle class families.

Tom also strongly supports stem cell research and investing in biotechnology to ensure that Wisconsin remains a world leader in these important fields that save lives, make groundbreaking advances, and create thousands of good-paying jobs in our state.

Tom’s Plan to Put Madison on a Diet

om Barrett’s plan to Put Madison on a Diet will save Wisconsin taxpayers at least $1.1 billion and make significant reforms to change the way state government works.

The road to fiscal responsibility and budgetary solvency starts with reducing state government spending. Wisconsin needs a Governor with real and specific solutions to the problems that face our state, not gimmicks or meaningless bumper sticker slogans.

The people of Wisconsin expect elected officials to offer honest plans and straight talk, and Tom’s plan to Put Madison on a Diet does exactly that.

Tom’s plan to Put Madison on a Diet includes hundreds of millions of dollars in specific cuts.  Some examples include:

Cutting Waste

  • Work to combine state and local government employees’ purchasing power statewide:  $339 million.
  • Create incentives for BadgerCare Plus enrollees to select low-cost plans: $200 million.
  • Cut prisoner health care costs:  $9.5 million.
  • Improve financial administration and control overpriced contracts:  $76 million.

Eliminate Unneeded Bureaucracy

  • Implement comprehensive Sunset Review system of all regulatory program, commissions and boards.  Texas realized a $37 return for each $1 invested in this initiative.
  • Right-size state workforce, reduce middle management and limit high-priced contractors:  $34 million.
  • Eliminate the offices of Secretary of State and State Treasurer:  $1 million.

Improving Efficiency

  • Move Wisconsin state government into the 21st Century with technological upgrades:  $175 million.

Fighting Fraud

  • Crack down on Medicaid billing fraud: $35.9 million.

In addition to these specific cuts, Tom will implement a top-to-bottom performance review of all major state operations.  In several other states, these efforts have yielded hundreds of millions in spending reductions.  Iowa, California, Texas and Michigan, for example, all performed such reviews and identified billions in savings.

To ensure compliance with his top-to-bottom performance review, Tom will require all Cabinet Secretaries, Department Directors, appointees and all other high-level officials to sign performance contracts with specific goals and measures tailored to their department or agency.  These “executive contracts” will provide a clear and measurable way to communicate priorities to agency secretaries and department heads and ensure accountability.

Tom’s complete plan to Put Madison on a Diet is projected to produce at least $1.127 billion per year in savings for the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

Tom has been a leader on cutting wasteful spending.  As Mayor of Milwaukee, he reduced the general City workforce by more than 400, sold more than 100 city vehicles, held Milwaukee’s spending below that of other comparably-sized U.S. cities, and cut $32 million in spending in the last year alone to balance an unexpected budget shortfall caused by the national economic crisis.

In addition to saving more than $1.1 billion in taxpayer money, Tom’s plan also includes a commitment to reforming the budget process with sound rules and policies that will ensure smarter, long-term planning and sustainable budgets that are results based.  Examples include Tom’s pledge to only submit and sign budgets that are truly balanced, as defined by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, and eliminating wasteful pork projects tucked into the budget.

Making Madison Work

Tom’s plan to Put Madison on a Diet also includes a package of reform proposals to increase openness and accountability in Madison and make state government work better for the people of Wisconsin.  Some examples include:

  • Mandate online reporting of lobbyist meetings with elected officials within 48 hours.
  • End the revolving door between the legislature and lobbyists.
  • Eliminate the pension enhancer for all elected officials, political appointments, and top executive branch officials.
  • Keep compensation and sick/leave accrual for state employees in line with the private sector.
  • Bring State Government to taxpayers in all corners of Wisconsin, not just Madison.

Download Tom’s complete plan to Put Madison on a Diet.

Senior Citizens & Tourism

Tom knows that we owe it to our seniors to help make sure they can enjoy their golden years in comfort and economic security. As governor, he will promote wellness efforts to help seniors and adults with disabilities receive home health assistance for as long as possible if they so choose. And Tom will fight for SeniorCare to make sure our seniors can get access to the affordable prescription medication they need.

Tom will crack down on the criminals who target Wisconsin seniors with security fraud scams, and he will continuously look for innovative solutions that protect seniors’ retirement savings and other financial assets.

Supporting Wisconsin’s Veterans

Wisconsin is home to over 400,000 veterans and nearly 30,000 brave Wisconsin men and women have served in the American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Wisconsin service members return home from duty or retire from the armed services, Tom understands that it is our solemn responsibility to ensure that we have tools and the resources necessary to support their continued service or transition to civilian status.

As governor, the Wisconsin National Guard will have the proper equipment, tools, training and support needed for responses to state emergencies or deployment in service of our nation. And Tom will make sure Wisconsin always treats its proud veteran sons and daughters with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Tom Barrett on Wisconsin’s tourism industry:

I have seen Wisconsin’s enormous potential to draw visitors from all over the world. Tourism has been a traditionally strong industry in our state, and I believe that we need to recommit to its ongoing success,” said Barrett. “As governor, I will revitalize Wisconsin’s tourism industry, leading to job creation and increased income for small business owners across the state.

The success of the tourism industry will be a major factor in Wisconsin’s economic recovery. With about 98% of the employers in Wisconsin classified as small businesses, an increase in visitors spending money at local restaurants, shops, museums and hotels would provide enormous benefits. Furthermore, Wisconsin is well-situated to capitalize on its premiere location between the large metropolitan areas of Chicago and the Twin Cities. In order to truly boost the number of people vacationing in our state, Wisconsin must continue to draw visitors from these high-population areas.

Tom’s plan to bolster Wisconsin tourism has three basic components:

Commit to Marketing Wisconsin

Support for a strong state tourism marketing campaign has historically been the most effective way to attract people to Wisconsin. However, Wisconsin’s commitment to tourism has slid in recent years. The 2010 tourism promotion budget was decreased by 17%. In 2009, the promotional investment for Wisconsin tourism remained flat.

As Governor, Tom will partner with industry leaders to assure that, even in tough budget times, the state and the industry can jointly find the resources to support a marketing campaign to compete.

The state of Michigan, for example, earned national recognition for its ‘Pure Michigan’ marketing campaign that brought 680,000 new visitors and $250 million in spending to that state.

Take 2 on Wisconsin

To generate the resources to invest in tourism without raising taxes, Tom proposes a new innovative idea called ‘Take 2 on Wisconsin.’ This initiative waives all tourist-related permits and registrations for two weekends per year – once during summer vacation and another over the winter months.

This will provide an open and appealing invitation to visit our great state and enjoy some of the best fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities available in the entire Midwest at a reduced cost. There is always something to do in Wisconsin, and once tourists get a taste of what it’s like to visit our state, they will be coming back time and time again.

Over these ‘Take 2’ weekends, the increased number of visitors will result in higher revenues in sales and hospitality taxes. This revenue would be re-invested in promoting tourism, giving Wisconsin a long-term plan to attract tourists and the revenue they bring into our state. Over time, this will add to Wisconsin’s efforts to position ourselves as a top travel hot-spot.

Recommit Hospitality Tax Revenue to Wisconsin Tourism

The hospitality tax should be used for its intended purpose – to further promote Wisconsin’s localities as top tourist destinations for visitors from around the world. Like what happens too often in Madison, this revenue has been used to fill budget gaps instead of reinvesting in local tourism.

Hospitality revenue dedicated to boosting tourism is a much more sustainable long-term plan, and will work to ensure that these revenues are used appropriately.

Our state, with its unique attractions and beautiful landscape, has always been an incredible getaway for visitors from around the world. As governor, the Department of Tourism will be emphasized as an economic development investment and jobs creator.