Governor Jim Doyle's recent "State of the State" speech reiterated the hard economic reality that without some tough budget cuts and retrenching, Wisconsin's budget deficit will grow to $5.4 billion by the time the next state budget ends in June 2011.
There's no doubt that the road ahead looks rugged, and that sacrifices and compromises will have to be made by everyone to build a better path to a stronger future for the state and its people.
In the speech, the governor said that in partnership with the federal government, the state can repair roads, bridges, crumbling schools, find new sources of energy, improve the electrical grid, broaden Internet lines, and build rail lines.
But later in the address, he mentioned that his priorities were providing good schools, keeping health care affordable and available, and providing excellent services like police and fire protection.
These are all vital elements that must be addressed.
But one of the mainstays of helping the economy recover is putting people to work.
The state can do little to help private industries whose customers in other parts of the country and world just cannot justify buying their products.
But the state can put people to work by helping fund public construction projects that build or repair roads, sewers, water treatment plants, dams, bridges, and schools — projects that will position the state to lead when the economy does recover.
Yes, cuts may be necessary, but the government should make building for our future a priority, too.