If you remember nothing else, remember this: more people are working, while fewer are unemployed. State government is more effective, more efficient, and more accountable, and the state’s financial condition has improved. Budgets are set based on the public’s ability to pay, instead of the government’s hunger to spend. School scores are up and more students are graduating, and we are helping more of our fellow citizens to transition from government dependence to work.
Budgets should not be based on the public’s ability to pay nor on the government’s hunger to spend, but rather on the need for state services. The idea that spending should be cut to match available funds is a silly idea often echoed by Rep. Tom Reed.
According to preliminary numbers from the Department of Workforce Development, there are now 7,600 more private sector jobs in Wisconsin than there were before the recession.
The unemployment rate that peaked at 9.2 percent in January of 2010 is now down to 5.2 percent. Trends show it will continue to drop this year.
While December job numbers for the states come out next week, the preliminary November data for Wisconsin shows we had the best monthly private sector job growth in more than two decades. 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.
Actually, unemployment in Wisconsin, which has historically been lower than average, was little different than the rest of the country. As for “private sector jobs,” Walker’s statement is misleading. A teacher working in a public school is no more or less a burden on taxpayers than a teacher in a private school. The idea that replacing public sector jobs with private sector jobs is a step forward is partisan political nonsense.
Budget reforms over the past four years reduced the burden on the hard-working taxpayers of this state by $2 billion, and we will continue to reduce that burden every year that I am in office.
In particular, I am proud to say property taxes on a typical home were $141 lower in December of 2014 than they were four years ago. That’s right; property taxes are literally lower than they were in 2010. How many Governors can say that?
If property taxes had grown over the past four years at the rate they did between 2006 and 2010, a typical homeowner would have paid $385 more in property taxes this past December. Over the last four years combined, the cumulative difference is more than $800. That’s real money.
We reduced income and employer taxes, too. And we started taking less out of paychecks for withholding last April, so you could keep more of your hard-earned money.
It is unrealistic to see taxes only as a burden on taxpayers. State services are valuable, and need to be paid for.
On top of our economic success, we empowered local school boards to hire and fire based on merit and pay based on performance, so they can keep the best and the brightest in the classroom. And it’s working.
Are ACT scores up? The chart fails to confirm this claim.
Our fiscal outlook is strong, too. We finished each year with a surplus, and we will again this year. Wisconsin’s pension system is the only one fully funded in the country. The state’s pension and debt ratio is one of the best. Our bond rating is positive. And the rainy day fund is the largest in state history—165 times bigger than when we first took office.
Wisconsin’s credit rating is AA, same as NY and PA, better than neighbors MI and IL, but not as good as MN.
While the state of state is strong, we want it to be even stronger in the future. Tonight, I will layout parts of our legislative agenda for the future of this great state.
Our plan will help people get the education and skills they need to succeed. We want the opportunity to be as equal as possible with the outcome left up to each and every one of us. In other words, our plan is to help more people live their piece of the American Dream—right here in Wisconsin.
In addition, to worker training, we will ensure every child—regardless of background or birthright—has access to a quality education. We will continue to empower families to make the choice that is right for their sons and daughters.
Tonight, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass legislation ensuring objective information is available for each and every school receiving public funds in this state. Provide the information and allow parents to make the choice.
No need for bureaucrats or politicians to make that choice—I trust parents. Give them access to objective information and they will make the choice that is best for their children.
And speaking of what is best for our students, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass legislation making it crystal clear that no school district in the state is required to use Common Core standards. Going forward, I want to eliminate any requirement to use Common Core.
My sons graduated from outstanding public schools in Wauwatosa and my nieces are in public schools as well, so I have a vested interest, like parents all across the state, in high standards. But those standards should be set by people from within Wisconsin—and preferably at the local level.
Are the educational needs of students in Wisconsin different from Minnesota, Illinois, or Michigan one wonders why?
Top-down regulations and mandates from the federal government get in the way of innovation and growth in Wisconsin and states like ours.
Therefore, I am working with our new Attorney General to prepare a lawsuit challenging the newly proposed federal energy regulations. These proposals could have a devastating impact on Wisconsin because we are so heavily dependent on manufacturing.
According to recent reports, we could lose tens of thousands of jobs in our region, and ratepayers could see an increase of up to 29 percent. We will fight to protect Wisconsin’s hard-working families.
Instead of fighting with states like Wisconsin, the federal government should work with us to find reasonable alternatives. We can be both environmentally and economically sustainable.
The EPA regulations that Gov. Walker opposes seek to slow global warming by replacing coal-burning power plants with green energy. Walker might better have said: Instead of fighting with the Federal Government, Wisconsin should work to reduce the state’s dependence on burning coal.
© William Hungerford – January 2015