Governor Walker Addresses State, Touts 'Wisconsin Comeback'
Written by Kevin Carr, WSAW-TV
After his introductions, Governor Scott Walker wasted no time emphasizing reason he believes the state of Wisconsin is strong. He started by talking about jobs.
"Specifically, the year-over-year numbers show the creation of 51,000 private sector jobs-which is the best since the end of the 1990s," Walker said.
He added that income and employer taxes have been reduced, and touts lower property taxes since 2010. It's a trend he promised to continue during his current term.
"My pledge to you is that property taxes four years from now will be lower than they were in 2014," Walker explained.
In an effort to improve government efficiency, Walker is proposing merging state agencies.
"We will consolidate several of our state agencies. While the mergers will provide savings in the next state budget, the real objective is to improve services, while being better stewards of the taxpayers' money," Walker said.
The Republican is also calling for legislation prohibiting any school districts from being required to use the controversial Common Core standards in education.
The end of his address took an international turn; when he called out the recent terrorist attacks in France.
"We need to proclaim that an attack against freedom-loving people anywhere is an attack against us all," Walker declared. "And we will not allow it. When we take a stand, we will make it easier to work for freedom and prosperity-right here in Wisconsin."
Whether it's an indication for a future bid at the presidency, however, remains to be seen.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they were left wanting a bit more when it comes to details of the Governor's plan.
"I think I'd rather see a long term economic plan that focuses on job growth and getting our economy back on track," 71st Assembly District Rep. Katrina Shankland (D) said. "Right now Wisconsin is dead last in the Midwest in job growth. And of course you didn't hear him say that.
But we really need to focus on creating long term family supporting jobs."
"Tonight he made reference to fast forward and he introduced a woman and her child. I think it's positive," 86th Assembly District Rep. John Spiros (R) said. "Fast Forward has helped our tech schools. It's helped individuals come in, get that training, and move on to a job."
"One thing the Governor didn't touch on that I think is important-we need reforms on the State Natural Resources Department," 12th Senate District Rep. Tom Tiffany (R) said. "That's really the number one economic development agency in terms of impact on us and Northern Wisconsin. SO I'm looking forward to seeing what the Governor is willing to do in reforming the Department of Natural Resources."
"It isn't real specific on a lot of things," 29th Senate District Senator Jerry Petrowski (R) said. "Except for combining state agencies and hopefully some places in government where we can save some money. He talked about education. He went over some of the good things that have happened over the last two years. The unemployment going down dramatically. And how if we stand together, we can accomplish the most."
"I think the budget process is going to be hashed out over the next couple of months which we will all be very engaged in," 85th Assembly District Rep. Dave Heaton (R) said. "I think he certainly laid out the plan-we want to keep government at a reasonable size and we don't want to expand when we don't need to."
The Governor did not address how he plans to specifically fix a projected $2 billion budget deficit, leaving that to his budget address coming up in a few weeks.