Wisconsin county officials gather in Madison for the annual Legislative Exchange.
The event focuses on the key issues facing Wisconsin's 72 counties, including successes, challenges, and how the counties relate to the state's fiscal challenges.
"The time to make big changes is number one, when you have an awful lot of money, and number two, when you have essentially no money. Wisconsin unfortunately is facing the latter at this point in time."
Mark O'Connell, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Counties Association , says the challenge of this recession holds the opportunity to think creatively. He says they will try to align government with the citizenry, saying more dollars in our pocket means more dollars spent.
"I think we have to come to the realization that what we really need in our state is the private sector doing really, really well. The vast majority of our citizens — 2.4 million of our 2.8 million workers in the state — work in the private sector. In order for us to succeed as a state we need more people making more money and engaging in more commerce."
O'Connell stresses, we need to take our "1950s type tax structure" and realign it with our "new millennium knowlege-based economy." We also need to open up the doors to higher education so those who want to learn, are able to do so.
This year's speakers include Governor Jim Doyle, Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and members of our state legislature. Approximately 150-180 county leaders from around the state are expected to gather in Madison.
There will also be a special showing of the film I.O.U.S.A., talking about our nation's fiscal challenges.
(The meeting takes place Tuesday and Wednesday.)