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Jobs, Tax Cuts Top Gov. Scott Walker's Agenda in 2013

Republican governor doubles down on goal to create 250,000 jobs by 2015 in his State of the State address, but Democrats remain skeptical.

Vowing to "put more money in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers," Gov. Scott Walker Tuesday night promised to push for middle-class tax cuts and double downed on his pledge to create 250,000 jobs by 2015.

Addressing the state Legislature in his annual State of the State message, Walker acknowledged that Wisconsin is still a long way off meeting the jobs goal that he campaigned on in 2010. He noted that others have pointed out "plenty of reasons" why job creation in the state has been difficult, including the slow recovery at the national level and well as ongoing concerns about the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

"But in Wisconsin, we don't make excuses... We get results," the governor said.

To move in that direction, Walker urged the Legislature to pass the a bill that would allow mining in northwestern Wisconsin. Such legislation was defeated in 2012, but state GOP leaders say it is one of their top priorities in this session.

"One of the best ways we can show the people of Wisconsin that their state government is focused on jobs is to pass a bill that streamlines the process for safe and environmentally sound mining," Walker said, adding that a mine would be a "lifeline" to residents in Iron County, which has a nearly 12 percent unemployment rate. A mine would generate 3,000 construction jobs and 2,800 long-term jobs, the governor said.

More State Investment in Small Businesses

Walker's other proposals to create more jobs include providing more investment capital to start-ups and other small businesses, and cutting red tape for businesses by modifying hundreds of state administration rules and regulations.

The governor also touted the importance of education when it comes to building a strong workforce. Along those lines, Walker said in next month's budget he would introduce a proposal to provide financial incentives to public schools that are performing at a high level or making significant progress in academic achievement.

Walker also said he would propose lowering income taxes on middle-class families in his budget, but provided no details Tuesday. 

He did note, however, that state is in better financial shape now than it was when he took office in 2011.

"Today, Wisconsin has a $342 million budget surplus, property taxes on a median valued home went down in each of the last two years, and the unemployment rate—well—it's down to 6.7 percent," Walker said.

GOP Touts Walker's 'Steady Plan'

Republicans came out in strong support of the governor's address.

"In just two years, Gov. Walker has returned fiscal sanity to Wisconsin with reforms that have put the Badger state on solid financial ground," said Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney in a statement. "Tonight, he outlined a steady plan that will continue to provide relief to taxpayers and middle class families while giving job creators the tools they need to succeed."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, praised the speech to the Journal Sentinel, and noted Walker's decision to have workers from the International Union of Operating Engineers at the event.

"It's a clear signal of the importance that all Republicans have been placing on this jobs bill," Vos told the Journal Sentinel.

Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, said Walker and the Legislature's "battle-tested leadership" turned a $3.6 billion deficit into a $342 million surplus, and that the state is poised to move forward.

"Last year we made tough decisions that addressed the root of our problems. Our hard work last session paid off, and now we can invest in priorities," she said in a statement. "Unlike the federal government and many other neighboring states, our fiscal house is in order and we have surplus. … Taxpayers in Wisconsin are breathing a little easier tonight knowing Gov. Walker and the 2013-14 state Legislature will work together to lessen the financial burden on Wisconsinites."

Democrats Rip Walker on Jobs

But Democrats aren't feeling the same way.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, took aim at the governor, posting this on Facebook: "Walker calls for more skilled workers. Too bad he cut state aid to technical colleges by 30 percent in his last budget."

And Assistant Assembly Minority Leader Sandy Pasch, D-Shorewood, had nothing better to say in her statement following the address, saying she disagrees sharply with the "unrealistically rosy picture" Walker painted about the state of the state. 

"Especially at a time when Wisconsin lags behind most of the country in job creation, Gov. Walker remains a far cry from his 250,000 jobs pledge, and his own staff admits 'we're bad' when it comes to critical economic indicators, we need bold and immediate action on economic recovery and putting people back to work in family-sustaining jobs."

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, also took shots at the job numbers.

"Wisconsin is 42nd in the nation in job creation and at the bottom in the Midwest,"  he said in a statement. "Forbes Magazine predicts we will continue to lag behind much of the country for years to come.
 
"That is devastating for Wisconsin working families. Here in Wisconsin, we should never be content with being number 42," Barca added. "Yet, stunningly, our governor and legislative Republicans have not shown any sense of urgency on jobs."

Brian Carlson March 12, 2013 at 05:05 PM
A number of seem to be under the illusion that the vote is a testament to wisdom. If so, you can start paying respects to Obama, Clinton ...even Doyle in his day. The fact that nearly half the state tried to recall Walker should not be a banner for pro walkerites. Its pretty sad actually.... No badge of honor for him. As to the mining debacle as you dont live inthe vicinity, you couldnt care less about the implications tothe locals there. THEY ARE VERY CONCERNED. Who knows...if you lived there you might be as well.
Walker March 12, 2013 at 05:09 PM
maybe you should read your own data, "This facility has not been out of compliance in the past 12 quarters."
Bob McBride March 12, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Brian, Trust me, I've never considered a vote a testament to wisdom. But it's still the way we operate around here. I don't spend my days seething over the boob we have in the WH. You and the rest of the perpetual malcontents in this state gave it your best shot and you lost. Stop whining. Move on. You don't always get your way. You're not always right.
Greg March 12, 2013 at 05:24 PM
How did the Senate Democrat's meetings, in Illinois union halls, conform with open meeting laws?
skinnyDUDE March 12, 2013 at 07:40 PM
@FreeThoughtTroy Thanks for proving my point. Doyle was a disaster.Too the point he didnt even seek re election due to 2 terms of EPIC failure. Even he did not want to run on such a embarrassing record. He took a surplus and left a huge deficit after passing the largest tax increases and breaking his own word. THAT IS YOUR IDEA OF LEADING THE STATE ? LOL Now continue your clueless babble as your words only prove how bad Doyle actually was.
skinnyDUDE March 12, 2013 at 07:52 PM
@ Brian Dey Great Points. These Liberals are in complete denial when they are blasting Walker who has completely turn around the states misfortunes creating under EPIC failure Jim Doyle.
Brian Dey March 12, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Amazing how quiet this blog is after I posted this.
Steve ® March 13, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Got it. Indians polluting OK, mine creating jobs bad.
FreeThought Troy March 13, 2013 at 05:24 AM
“He took a surplus and left a huge deficit” Nooooooooo – that was Tommy Thompson
Brian Dey March 13, 2013 at 11:36 AM
I stand corrected. Free Thought Troy just topped them all. Doyle didn't leave a huge deficit? What alternative universe are you living in. A $3.8 billion (that is with a "b") in a state budget is by any reasonable measure, a huge deficit. As for Thompson, that is ancient history. And I especially love the double standard. Obama inherited a mess, but Doyle didn't leave one. You liberals crack me up...
yomammy March 13, 2013 at 11:40 AM
not to mention the work he could have gotten done if he wasnt re-campainging during the liberal induced recall. ( and the tens of millions it cost us/state/candidates...)
Walker March 13, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Got it. Typical rethug spreadin' lies.
FreeThought Troy March 13, 2013 at 01:03 PM
The point was the deficits Gov. came into office with. Thompson came into office with a surplus. He left with a deficit. His Lt. Gov. couldn’t make thing better. Doyle did not come into office with a surplus. Funny how Conservatives cherry pick history (or just make it up thanks to Bill O’Reilly “history” books and David Bartons books of fiction/claims to history). How they get to go to a Gov. website and claim success while objective sources say the jury is still out (Act 10 – you call yourself and education reformer… what is your reform other than breaking the union to voucher schools – or maybe stubbornly cling to the charter school formula that leaves the most needy kids in the cold). When Libs call in to question and bring to light their false claims and hypocrisy, they are answered with insults. You are a little man, Brian Dey. A ridiculous, little man.
FreeThought Troy March 13, 2013 at 01:07 PM
yommamy actually makes a point to consider here. Just think if the recall had not happened, would the Gov. have stayed in the state to work instead of cris-crossing the country at four-figure a plate fund raisers (all while putting out ads against Barret’s out of state influences… yup that happened, too)? Where was Gov. Walker last week again? Oh, yeah – in FL at a four figure a plate fund raiser. Was he getting points from Gov. Scott on best practices to suppress the vote?
Bam Bam Ruble March 13, 2013 at 01:23 PM
There is a reason this no talent ass clown is called No Thought Troy. Get back to your star wars lego set Troy.
Bren March 13, 2013 at 01:30 PM
I have a few questions. How did the mine project go from creating 800 "long-term" jobs to 2,800? I also note the change in terminology from permanent to "long-term." Interesting. Also, how can we have a surplus if the debt was restructured and the state has taken on millions of dollars in interest charges over 20 years? Borrowed money is not income. We all want, for ourselves, family members, friends, and neighbors, good paying jobs and financial security. I don't think we're going to get there without honesty and forthrightness, empathy, and above all, respect. Attributes this governor lacks.
FreeThought Troy March 13, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Wow… a personal insult playing around with my screen name. That’s never happened to me before. I am so intimidated right now….
Bam Bam Ruble March 13, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Stop shaking Troy, just focus on building that Millennium Falcon and Mon Calamari cruiser.
Brian Dey March 13, 2013 at 02:23 PM
FTT- I've never claimed that Tommy Thompson or McCallum didn't leave a $2.7 billion structural deficit. I will claim that Doyle grew that deficit by $1.1 billion and in the process, dried up the transportation fund and the tobacco lawsuit settlement which could have made his deficit easily twice the size of the one left behind by Thompson/McCallum. And I can back up my claim that in a two months in office, Walker erased the entire deficit, lowered the state's portion of property taxes, paid off past debts AND had a surplus. As far as education reforms, you know nothing of my background. Yes, busting the union's stranglehold on tax dollars was a start. But it is structural reform that I have focused on in my nearly twenty years working on reform. Things such as site-based management, de-centralization of adminstration, aligning curriculum with state and federal expectations, getting parents more active in their child's education, modernizing and streamlining courses to the 21st century, block scheduling, alternative education and raising standards. As for your assumptions, which in many cases are purely made-up, about voucher and charter schools, yes I support them and am currently the President of a GovernanceBoard that directs the #1 instrumentality charter in the state which far outperforms the district I live in and almost all in the state. I also work with goards on how to better govern. I actually do something. You?
Brian Dey March 13, 2013 at 02:38 PM
FTT- You mean when the unions threw a hissy fit? Yes, imagine if they just would have taken the cuts that even private union workers took over the years and didn't have to act like children. Imagine not going through a ridiculous recall. Imagine if teachers would put as much effort into their classrooms instead of the recall...
FreeThought Troy March 13, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Brian – I applaud you for your work in your district. In a moment of snip, I brought your views on education into a discussion on the Gov. State of the State. There is no place for that discussion here. I am sorry for that. I am obviously pro union, pro teacher (was raised by a teacher and coach) and seriously doubt the results in your district could stretch state wide. My older brother is at a voucher school and there are major storms on his horizon. I would just like to remind you the teachers union had no issue giving financial concessions when Gov. Walker came into office. It was the collective bargaining they wanted keep & the Gov. wouldn’t even talk to them about it. The same results could have happened with out all the strife had the Gov. just negotiated to begin with. I digress. I again apologize for bringing your education reform credentials into this blog. It was out of line and I hope you can forgive me.
Brian Dey March 13, 2013 at 03:01 PM
FTT- No problem. It happens to us all. I understand that the teachers were willing to make concessions. One of the things I found while negotiating with not just the teachers, but the support unions as well while I was on the school board is that concessions usually last through one contract. The two thirds formula for school funding has been a stretch for many years. It hurt the Doyle administration because it was a promise he had to keep for political reasons. But it was not sustainable and hadn't been for quite some time. To make a structural change, certain items had to be taken out of the collective bargaining process. No one likes to see pay cuts or benefit cuts. But most of the world has already gone through it. I truly do respect teachers, especially after teaching in the classrooms for several years as a J.A. elementary and secondary instructor. I have tried to make it clear that the issue is not with the teachers, but the union leadership. My father was the national treasurer for the United Steelworkers Union so I don't even have a problem with unions, but I don't believe they have any place in the public sector. Of course, my opinion. I may not agree with the way it went down, but I do agree it had to be done. The truth is, no matter how it was handled, the reulting turmoil would have happened anyway.
Brian Dey March 13, 2013 at 03:07 PM
FTT- There will be growing pains with the voucher program and hopefully the wake-up call has already occured for public education. I know it has in my district as they are already looking at ways to offer more programs like the one I represent. The way I see it is if a voucher school doesn't perform, parents won't send their kids there. They go out of business. The ones that perform well will succeed. That is the free market approach. They also offer somethings that would be too costly for standard public education like small class sizes, more intimate settings, etc... They are also a good test ground for new and innovative teaching methods. There is a place for them. But I also see that it is starting to get the public school districts in a competition mode. They can't just sit back anymore and make excuses. And that, at least in my district, is already happening.
FreeThought Troy March 13, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Brian: I don’t know (or can’t remember) if you have done this before. As there was a court decision about Act 10, I think it timely to have further discussion about these issues that go beyond this blog. I have a request. I know you have blogged for Patch before. If you could put your thoughts on the necessity of Act 10 beyond just the budget (expand on your reasons in your prior post) in your own article, I think that could be a good forum to expand all of our thoughts beyond the State of the State address. These are good points you make. I have some questions on them, but fear the digression from this article. Either that (a blog article may be a commitment you just can’t make right now) or some sort of more private contact info. (email or whatnot, I don’t want to sound or be creepy about it) and we could get into a constructive dialogue, then?
Brian Dey March 13, 2013 at 05:47 PM
FTT-I will try to get something up tomorrow. The thing I was disappointed with in the process of enacting Act 10, was the lack of depth in explaining why it needed to be done. In the three budget cycles I was a part of during my duration on the board, these were some of the same complaints I had while trying to balance the budgets. Look for it. I will get it up but it may take a few days. Busy time of the season for my company.
Brian Carlson March 14, 2013 at 12:39 AM
BD, you dont know me but feel that your best strategy is to begin with an insult and then expand on it. Why should I respond to that? You are a walker fundamentalist...this is not an insult its just an ID, and are not discussing anything...you are spouting dogma. Fine. Glad you are happy with a man who evidently needs no defense given a sterling record as governor. Everyone is happy, teachers love him, education in Wisconsin is exemplary...the guy walks on water and we have a model state. The fact that millions of Wisconsonites disagree withthis is a testament to the level of ignorance in the state....no doubt to be resolved over time by education. When you get into conversation, discussion, i may be there. The dogma seems to be something you enjoupy paddling around in. Have fun.
Brian Dey March 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM
Brian Carlson- And yet you still can't discard one thing I stated. BTW- Millions more like what Walker is doing. So much that they voted him twice in the same term and by greater numbers the second time around. Also, the sky didn't fall in education. I stand by my claim that almost every district sans Milwaukee and Madison, fared better under Act 10 and are now on better finacial stability. As for healthcare, Wisconsin is in the top 10 states for number of people who have health insurance. His new budget allows for more to join Badgercare. Hardly a record of ignoring healthcare. As for mining, there is nothing in the recently signed bill other than that a date for an answer is set. In 2012, over 35,000 businesses started up in Wisconsin, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.6% and since 2010, 39,000 more people moved to Wisconsin. Those are healthy and robust numbers compared to the abysmal federal record. It's like Jack Nicholson said in a Few Good Men, "The truth? You can't handle the truth." I stand by every statement made and since you can't refute them, you hide behind that I insulted you. If the truth is insulting, you have some serious issues.
Randy1949 March 15, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Liberals want the poor to remain poor, to use them politically. Conservatives want to eliminate the poor by having them move up to the middle class.
Randy1949 March 15, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Oh, good lord -- not again. Would you please grow up, whoever you are? FYI, the above comment was not me.
Dirk Gutzmiller March 15, 2013 at 05:50 PM
The iron mine in the North Woods is the Republicans', i.e. Tea Party's, signature piece of legislation to create jobs. No surprise that they pulled that one out out of the 19th Century, and the lead miners picutured on the state flag.. A 21st Century approach would have been to concentrate on industries already in place and nation-leading, such as medical devices, stem cell research, the water-related industry, and value-added agriculture, to name a few. Several years ago, Fierce Biotech, a leading life science industry bulletin, had named Wisconsin one of the five places in the world best-positioned to be a hotbed of biotech innovation. Quality of life is one of the major drivers for technical start-ups. These are highly intelligent and progressive people owning, running, and working in such industires. Yet at the top of the state government is a 19th century divisive tinpot and his underlings advocating scarring the land forever so some Illinois coal mining billionaire based in Palm Beach can make billions more, if he does not go bankrupt first in the recently greatly depressed coal industry. And what is the Tea Party's real stance on stem cell research, etc. Better not take any chances, start-up in California, Washington, or Massachusetts. Already, we sense the Republicans wondering if they really could ultimately blow their reputations on this cyclical, high risk, and controversial venture. It is going to be interesting watching them squirm now.

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