Wisconsin executives are optimistic about the future of the state's business climate with Republicans in charge. But they also agree eliminating the state's projected $2.5 billion budget deficit is priority.

"I think Governor-elect Scott Walker and the state Legislature will be completely preoccupied initially solving the budget problems," said Mark Bugher, director of the University Research Park near the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "It's a significant problem they've inherited and it will take a herculean effort to get a balanced budget together and passed by July 1."

Speaking with reporters at the Capitol late Wednesday afternoon, Walker said he plans to call a special session on job creation after being sworn into office in January.

"Over the next few days, we will be reaching out to lawmakers in both political parties to talk about our jobs agenda, clearly reinforcing the message I mentioned last night, which is that Wisconsin is open for business," he said.

Dan Ariens, president and owner of the Ariens Co., a Brillion-based maker of commercial outdoor power, said once the state's financial problems are addressed, it must examine its regulatory and tax structure on business.

"Wisconsin is a high-tax state (for business)," Ariens said. "It's certainly an issue. When I look at my plants in Nebraska and Alabama, it's far less expensive to have plants in those states than it is in Wisconsin."

Ariens said labor regulations also are more stringent in Wisconsin than in Nebraska and Alabama. "It is difficult to do business in Wisconsin because it is expensive," he said. "When state government recognizes those costs, I'm looking for some reduction on that burden."