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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.

Keeping Wisconsin’s Agriculture Strong

Expanding prosperity for our farmers and rural communities

Agriculture is an essential part of Wisconsin’s way of life and our economy – generating $59 billion in economic activity and supporting more than 400,000 jobs.  With a committed partner in the governor’s office, we can leverage Wisconsin’s traditional strength in agriculture to increase diversity, profitability and innovation.  Tom has developed a comprehensive and detailed plan – highlighted below – to keep Wisconsin agriculture at the cutting edge for farms of all sizes.

Making Wisconsin America’s True Dairyland

Dairy and cheese processing make up $26.5 billion of the state’s $59 billion agriculture industry. Wisconsin is second only to California in dairy production, and Tom’s goal is to make Wisconsin #1 again.  His plan to position Wisconsin as the nation’s uncontested Milk State includes:

  • Supporting enhanced tax credits for dairy and dairy processing facilities. With dairy prices and demand on the rebound, Wisconsin is poised for a strong comeback. The Dairy Investment Tax Credit, which expired this year, allows dairy farmers a 10% income and franchise tax credit for expenditures on modernization and expansion. Tom supported extending the Dairy Investment Tax Credit until 2012 to help our Dairy Farms to continue to grow.
  • Increasing growth and profitability by balancing regulatory relief and environmental protection. Natural resource management and agriculture need not be at be at odds with one another.  We can safeguard the environment while allowing our farming operations to grow and compete, preserving farmland for agricultural use, and protecting the sustainability of Wisconsin agribusiness.
  • Promoting and protecting the integrity of Wisconsin’s Organic Dairy Industry. Wisconsin’s family farmers have faced enough challenges in recent years without the additional burden of competing with cheap counterfeits that have flooded the market. Tom will insist that the USDA enforce the “organic” law and level the playing field for Wisconsin farmers who are in compliance with U.S. organic standards.
  • Establishing an annual operating loan program through WHEDA. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Association could provide an additional $100,000 loan to eligible dairy farms, to be repaid over a five-year period.

Expanding Other Value-Added Agriculture

Growing commodity crops is an important part of farming, but there are also opportunities in growing turning raw agricultural products into a processed product that commands high prices and delivers higher incomes.  To support this new agricultural environment, states can provide capital, technical assistance, and infrastructure support. As governor, Tom will build on existing programs to increase value-added agriculture in Wisconsin.

Energy Independence Through Agriculture

Biomass is Wisconsin’s most promising source of renewable energy, producing power continuously and relying on a supply of agricultural inputs that Wisconsin family farms have abundant capacity to supply.  Every year Wisconsin sends $16 billion in energy costs to other states and countries.  It’s time to keep those dollars here at home.  Through loan programs and by promoting the commercialization of biofuels, Tom will grow our biomass energy economy, strengthening the links between agriculture and an energy-independent Wisconsin.

Restoring the Wisconsin Idea to Production Agriculture

The Wisconsin Idea is based on the principle that education must be used to influence and improve people’s lives outside the classroom. As governor, Tom will ensure that the state’s universities and UW-Extension are fully funded with a clear mandate to work directly with the state’s farmers to continue to modernize our state’s agricultural economy.  Recognizing Wisconsin’s dairy industry of the future is knowledge-based, he will revitalize the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development – turning it into a full-fledged university department. Tom will also work to remodel the Babcock Hall facility to establish a state-of-the-art cheese making training facility.

Keeping Wisconsin’s Rural Economy Competitive

As governor, Tom will improve the quality of life in Wisconsin’s rural communities.  His plan includes:

  • Investing in local transportation systems
  • Empowering rural schools as economic development catalysts
  • Growing Wisconsin’s critical tourism economy and expanding agritourism
  • Increasing broadband connections and coverage in rural areas and schools
  • Improving health care and dental care in rural communities
  • Protecting use-value assessment to ensure that farmers are not taxed off of their land

Tom Barrett Owns a Long Record Fighting for Wisconsin’s Agricultural Economy

  • Tom earned praise for opposing legislation that “continues to devastate Wisconsin industries,” including Wisconsin’s agriculture and food processing industries. (The Capital Times, 8/27/09)
  • Tom cosponsored a bill to establish a minimum milk price equal to the national price of milk to provide price relief to economically distressed milk producers.  Tom Barrett also cosponsored a bill in 2001 that included plans to “revise and increase funding for the farmland protection program.”  (HR 224, 1997; HR 2375, 2001)
  •  Tom supported the Farm Security Act, investing $100 million in rural development programs (HR 2646, 1996, “Farm Security Act”)
  • Tom fought revisions the USDA wanted to make in the minimum prices bottlers and processors pay farmers for milk. The milk producers plan was pushed by farmers from outside the Midwest and would have hurt Wisconsin. (The Capital Times, 11/19/99)

To view Tom’s full plan to get Wisconsin working, visit

Bucyrus to Add 515 Jobs in Wisconsin

You may remember back in July when Bucyrus International was in danger of closing after the US Export Import Bank denied a loan guarantee to sell $600 million worth of mining equipment to a company in India. Tom Barrett sprung in to action immediately, meeting with President Obama personally to get the decision reversed and to save jobs in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.

Thanks to Tom’s proactive response, we’re happy to report that not only were over 1,000 jobs across the country saved, but that Buycrus is now announcing that they are adding 515 good-paying jobs right here in Wisconsin.

At the announcement, President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said,“We are getting orders from all the emerging economies, literally across the board in nations that produce commodities.” To keep up with demand, Bucyrus is also moving part of their production from their plants in Dortmund, Germany and Connecticut to South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The recent news surrounding Bucyrus shows that with a strong partner, Wisconsin businesses can compete nationally and globally. But, the Bucyrus announcement isn’t the only win for Wisconsin workers and families.

In the last year alone, Tom Barrett has worked with the Milwaukee 7 to create and save over 2,000 jobs. Under Tom’s leadership, the Menomonee Valley in Milwaukee has been transformed from the largest EPA Brownfield in the state to a thriving commercial sector that now supports nearly 4,000 jobs.

Despite campaign promises to create jobs by developing the County’s Park East land in downtown Milwaukee, Scott Walker has failed to create a single job and the land remains a barren pile of rubble. This land even remains vacant despite Tom’s success in redeveloping Park East land owned by the city, such as the new Manpower headquarters, the Flatiron, and the Aloft.

Scott Walker’s Park East is just like his jobs plan: Empty and barren.

On Eve of Vote, Barrett Urges Ex-Im Bank to Approve Bucyrus Deal

Updated: Exciting news! The Ex-Im Bank approved the loan! Over 1,000 good-paying jobs saved. Click here for Tom’s statement.

Tomorrow the U.S. Export-Import Bank will vote on whether or not to approve financing for Milwaukee-based Bucyrus to purchase equipment and other resources needed for a $600 million international order. At stake are over 1,000 good-paying jobs nationwide.

To renew his call for approval of this project, Tom personally visited Bucyrus International’s headquarters and manufacturing facility in South Milwaukee today. Here is what Tom Barrett said during the tour:

“We urge the Ex-Im Bank to approve this package, and we hope our fight to protect these jobs will be won tomorrow,” said Barrett. “Ensuring Wisconsin businesses like Bucyrus have access to capital and the ability to export into growing markets is central to protecting and creating Wisconsin jobs. I’m proud to stand with Bucyrus on this issue — just as I will stand with manufacturers across Wisconsin as Governor.”

Earlier this year the U.S. Export-Import bank refused to finance equipment for an international deal that involved a $600 million order with Bucyrus. Following the misguided decision that could have cost up to 1,000 Bucyrus jobs nationwide, Tom urged Chairman Fred Hochberg of the U.S. Export-Import bank overturn the decision. Tom also personally spoke with President Obama during a visit to Wisconsin about the importance of approving the Bucyrus deal.

To learn more about the Tom Barrett’s comprehensive plan to create jobs and get Wisconsin working, please visit