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Sen. Dan Kapanke: A call for responsible budgeting
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As the budget process picks up in Madison, constituents in my district have been contacting my office with their concerns regarding various aspects of the budget. I appreciate everyone taking the time to relay their thoughts. Based on the calls and e-mails I've been receiving, my constituents are not satisfied with the direction that Wisconsin is heading.

I rely on my constituents to share their thoughts and concerns with me, which is why I hosted an economic roundtable discussion April 9. Nearly 100 area business leaders came to listen to Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance President Todd Berry and a panel of five business leaders.

This event provided a public forum for business and community leaders to express their concerns regarding our state budget and overall state economy. The message I heard was clear - businesses in Wisconsin are tightening their financial belts and so should Madison.

Small businesses like INOV8, which manufactures waste oil burning furnaces, boilers and evaporators, have no other option but to reduce spending. Panelist Rebecca Faas, owner of INOV8, said her business of 10 employees recently had to cut back on all operational costs. It didn't have the luxury of increasing spending during this economic recession. This is just one example of hundreds of small business owners who are experiencing similar situations. As a small business owner myself, I've had to cut back on operating expenses as revenue dollars shrink, yet state government is increasing spending by 7.7 percent!

People and businesses in my district are looking for legislators who will conduct responsible budgeting that aligns with our current financial situation. Even more importantly, we need legislators who are willing to look for budgeting solutions that will ensure that our deficit does not increase over the next two years, which it's expected to. As Todd Berry mentioned, "The current state budget is laying the groundwork for a budget crisis well into the next decade."

The only way to eliminate our budget deficit, regain economic strength, and find a long-term solution is through legislation that is financially responsible and realistic. As Steve Loehr, panelist and vice-president of operations support at Kwik Trip said during the economic discussion, "Madison needs to look at a long-term solution not short-term fixes."

An essential part of a long-term solution is to strengthen our private sector by not burdening it with additional taxes. It is clear we legislators need to listen closely to what the business community has been saying all along - that the private sector's ability to do business in Wisconsin is being hurt by the very institution designed to nurture it.

Wisconsin is a great place to live, work and raise a family, but we can and must do better. I know that through the grassroots efforts of the people in my district, we will improve Wisconsin's business climate. Please continue to share your thoughts and concerns with me regarding our economy and Governor Doyle's budget bill. I look forward to working together with all of you as we commit our selves to improving Wisconsin's economy!