State Sen. Brad Pfaff guest column: Growing our economy

The people of western Wisconsin know what it means to put in a hard day’s work. People who work with their hands, drive trucks, pour concrete, and nurses who care for our loved ones. They understand the value of a dollar.

The stock market may be up, but for the family buying bread, eggs, and milk at the grocery store, prices are still high. As a father of two, I understand the need to pinch pennies and make ends meet. That’s why I’m focused on the issues that matter to working families.

I’m proud of my work this session to invest in Wisconsin communities, provide tax relief, and fund roads, bridges, and broadband, but we can do more to support Wisconsin’s working families. We need an economy that works for everyone.

For Wisconsin parents, child care continues to be an urgent need. This is an issue that impacts all of us – it’s not just a child care crisis, it’s a workforce crisis. Without child care, parents cannot work. For our child care centers, we need to make sure they have stability. For our child care workers, we need to support solutions to keep them in the field.

For families, the high cost of health care and prescription drugs adds yet another challenge. But there are simple, straightforward solutions to reduce the cost of health care. I’ve proposed legislation to cap the cost of insulin here in Wisconsin, because no one should be forced to ration insulin or worry about whether they can afford a live-saving drug. I’ve also proposed the creation of the Office of Prescription Drug Affordability and the Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board, which would create greater transparency and enable action to curb the high cost of prescription drugs in Wisconsin.

For Wisconsin’s families, we need to grow our economy from the bottom up and middle out.
Wisconsin-made products are some of the best in the world. We need to do more to support growth in technology and manufacturing. I’m proud to have introduced the Buy American package of legislation this session, which would ensure our state government prioritizes products made here at home. When we spend taxpayer dollars, we should invest those dollars in Wisconsin jobs and manufacturing whenever possible.

Our economy grows when we support Wisconsin workers making Wisconsin products at Wisconsin businesses. I’m proud to share that I have recently been appointed to the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment. This Council works closely with the Department of Workforce Development to craft a comprehensive workforce development strategy in Wisconsin. A highly-skilled labor pool is essential to help Wisconsin’s economy grow and stabilize our supply chain. From manufacturing to health care, we can do more to connect employers with employees.

This starts with apprenticeships and showing students their potential in technology and manufacturing. I’ve seen firsthand the profound impact this can have – I recently attended the FIRST Robotics Competition in La Crosse, where school-based tech clubs had the ability to compete and showcase their skills. We need to move away from policies that divide one another and instead work on issues that bring people together, grow our economy, and improve our quality of life. I believe there is more that unites us than divides us, and will continue to fight to make life a little easier for Wisconsin’s working families.

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