Governor Doyle: Calls on Federal Government to Act Now to Stop Loss of Manufacturing Jobs
Jessica Erickson, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2156
Wisconsin Has Lost More than 84,000 Manufacturing Jobs in the Last Four Years; Joins Michigan Governor Granholm, Pennsylvania Governor Rendell in Meetings Tuesday in Washington, D.C. with Top Members of Congress and Bush Administration
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle today joined with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in calling on the federal government to provide leadership to stop the loss of manufacturing jobs and help the nation's manufacturers stay competitive in the global economy.
"Manufacturing has been hit very hard around the country by the recent recession, and Wisconsin is no exception," Governor Doyle said. "In the last four years, the United States has lost more than 2.4 million manufacturing jobs, including more than 84,000 in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is taking innovative steps at the state level to bolster our traditional manufacturing base, but we need leadership in Washington to help us save our manufacturing jobs."
The three Governors met today with top members of Congress and the Bush Administration to outline steps the federal government must take to address the loss of manufacturing jobs across the United States. They also presented their manufacturing agenda and concerns at a Capitol Hill Forum on manufacturing with members of Congress.
At the forum, Governor Doyle outlined six action steps the federal government must take immediately to help upgrade manufacturing in Wisconsin.
"In Wisconsin, we've learned that the way to help manufacturing is to focus on competing at the high end - through job training, upgrades in equipment and technology, and access to investment capital," Governor Doyle said. "We will never compete for low-wage jobs, but Wisconsin companies like Harley-Davidson have shown that when you compete at the high end you can succeed."
"Unfortunately, the federal government has not had the same kind of strategic vision when it comes to manufacturing," the Governor said. "Industrial states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have not had a strong partner in the federal government. We need a real strategy coming from Washington that will help our manufacturers move to the high end."
Governor Doyle's six action steps are:
1. Restore Full Funding to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP)
The Governor is calling on Congress to restore full funding to MEP, which was cut by nearly 63 percent in the fiscal year 2004. The Administration's current budget request proposes to maintain those cuts, not even allowing an increase for inflation. A partnership between the federal government, the states, and small manufacturers, the program provides federal funds to local organizations that help small and medium sized American manufacturers modernize to stay competitive and improve productivity.
The program is critical to helping these manufacturers compete in an increasingly competitive global economy. Over the past year and a half, MEP has helped small manufacturers create or retain more than 35,000 jobs throughout the country, increase sales by $953 million, and realize $681 million in cost savings. The program has also helped businesses invest over $940 million in the modernization of plants, equipment, information systems, and workforce training.
"Now is not the time to turn our back on our manufacturers," Governor Doyle said. "I urge Congress to restore funding to this program, and help our small and medium sized manufacturers remain competitive and keep jobs here in the United States."
2. Enforce Trade Agreements and Protect Intellectual Property
Governor Doyle is calling on the Administration to make certain that trade agreements are enforced, and that new trade agreements are not negotiated on the backs of workers.
"Free trade must be fair trade. We can't put up a wall and stop jobs from going overseas, but we should do everything we can to help our industries compete," Governor Doyle said. "This Administration must focus on increasing our exports, opening up new markets, taking down non-tariff trade barriers, and improving the balance of trade with the international community."
The Governor has sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick asking him to pursue commitments from China to reduce piracy in an extensive and meaningful way.
3. Fund Federal Training and Retraining Programs for Manufacturing Workers
The Governor is calling on Congress to increase funding for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which provides retraining, income support, health insurance tax credits, and other benefits for workers who lose their jobs due to trade.
"The United States has the best workers in the world, and we need to give them the skills they need to compete for high-end, high-wage manufacturing jobs," Governor Doyle said. "Congress must fund effective federal training and retraining programs for manufacturing workers - especially high-wage, high-skill workers."
4. Extend Unemployment Insurance
Congress must act immediately to extend unemployment insurance so that those who are unemployed are able to support their families while they actively seek new employment, Governor Doyle said.
5. Enact Corporate Tax Reform Bill to Protect U.S. Companies from High Tariffs
Governor Doyle is calling on Congress to pass the corporate tax reform bill to protect American companies from high tariffs imposed by the European Union on a broad range of U.S. products.
"This bill would bring us into compliance with requirements of the World Trade Organization, while also ensuring that we can continue to reward manufacturers that keep jobs in our country," the Governor said.
6. Provide National Leadership to Control the Rising Cost of Health Care
The Governor is urging the federal government to provide national leadership and aggressive federal action to control the rising cost of health care.
"As I travel throughout Wisconsin, one of the key concerns I often hear from manufacturers is that their health care costs alone often exceed the entire labor costs of their competitors in other countries," Governor Doyle said. "We're doing some innovative things in Wisconsin to control these costs, but skyrocketing health care costs is a problem all across the country, and what we need now is national leadership on health care."
Governor Doyle has made revitalizing and upgrading manufacturing a major part of his economic development initiative, "Grow Wisconsin." The Governor's plan represents a comprehensive effort to upgrade Wisconsin's economy and generate a billion dollars in public and private investment, starting with core industries like manufacturing.
The vast majority of bills the Governor called for in "Grow Wisconsin" have been signed into law. Successful measures include: eliminating the tax on creating jobs, modernizing Wisconsin's financial industry, expanding broadband and telecommunications services, unleashing more venture capital in Wisconsin, expanding access to technology zone tax credits, and providing funding to manufacturing extension programs to help small manufacturers modernize, stay competitive, and create new jobs.