Gov. Scott Walker announces trade mission to Canada

Gov. Scott Walker, speaking in London in February, plans to visit Canada this month for another trade mission.

LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — Associated Press

With Republicans gridlocked over the 2015-17 state budget, Gov. Scott Walker announced Tuesday he is taking his third trade mission and fourth trip out of the country this year to Canada later this month.

Walker’s office announced he will lead a business development mission to Canada from June 12-17 “as part of the state’s ongoing effort to encourage international companies to invest in Wisconsin.”

“As we did during our April trip to Europe and our mission to the U.K. earlier this year, we will promote Wisconsin’s strong business climate, outstanding workforce and key industry sectors,” Walker said in a statement.

Walker and representatives of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will meet with Canadian companies about establishing new operations and expanding existing operations in the state.

As part of the trip, Walker plans to attend the Leadership Summit of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers in Quebec City hosted by the Council of Great Lakes Governors, and a business briefing session in Montreal.

Wisconsin exported nearly $8 billion in goods to Canada last year, including electrical machinery, vehicles, paper products and plastics, making it the state’s largest export destination. The state also imported $4.5 billion in goods from Canada.

Canada has invested $4.95 billion in Wisconsin companies since 2003, or almost two-thirds of all foreign direct investment in the state during that time.

Walker’s trip announcement comes as Republicans in the Legislature have said they don’t have agreement with the governor on how to fund transportation in the biennial budget. The Joint Finance Committee hasn’t scheduled any meetings this week as it wrestles with what to do with funding for roads, a Milwaukee Bucks arena and the state’s prevailing wage law.

Walker has called for borrowing a record $1.3 billion to pay for roads in the next biennium. Legislative Republicans want a more long-term fix, including a possible increase in vehicle registration fees, which Walker opposes without an offsetting reduction in taxes elsewhere.

Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has said he plans to announce his presidential plans after the state budget is signed. In 2013, Walker signed the budget on June 30.

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Matthew DeFour covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.