Patti Wenzel

“We are Wisconsin, we will lead the way”

By - Feb 2nd, 2011 04:00 am

Walker addresses the state. Photo courtesy of

Under a green and gold capitol dome, Gov. Scott Walker gave his first State of the State address, which was very reminiscent of his campaign speeches.

To sum it up (in case you hadn’t heard): Wisconsin is open for business.

Walker took the words of the late, great Vince Lombardi as his motto for turning the state around and taking the fiscal and economic lead across the county: “Success demands singleness of purpose.”

In less than thirty days, the Legislature has passed a number of bills that Walker says are “sending a clear message that we are open for business. Now is the time to start hiring.”

Among the most significant is a tort reform bill which limits lawsuits against businesses. Also sailing through were the elimination of taxes on Health Savings Accounts, which Walker said will allow small businesses to offer health coverage to employees and bring the state in line with others; the expansion of the relocation and development act to lure out-of-state businesses to Wisconsin, and a tax credit for those businesses.

“Creating jobs is not a partisan issue,” Walker said. “These are not Republican or Democratic jobs. These are Wisconsin jobs.”

But Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) disagrees to an extent.

“He is right to be focused on jobs, but this is a lost opportunity because the these bills don’t create jobs in the short-term” Barca said. “We want an economic summit with business leaders, economists and labor representatives to identify creative ways to create jobs in short-term. That will do more to ease the pain our citizens are dealing with.”

While Walker referred to the impending $258 million shortfall for the current budget and the $3.2 billion shortfall predicted for the next budget, he didn’t give any new specifics as to how he would fix that hole. Instead, he repeated campaign promises to get state employees to contribute more towards their own pensions and health care premiums and to redo the structure of government.

Scott Walker and Secretary of Tourism Stephanie Klett demonstrate that Wisconsin is open for business. Photo, State Department of Tourism.

He referenced the battle over benefits at Mercury Marine as an example of the good that can occur when labor makes concessions. Walker quoted a Mercury employee who told him that the company has been good to him and his family, and now it was his turn to step up, give back and keep jobs in the town.

“I hope (state) employees feel they’ve been treated fairly, but they have to understand we must right-size government,” Walker said.

Walker did unveil one initiative towards growing those 250,000 promised jobs: the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange. He said the Department of Transportation has developed a plan that will start reconstruction of the roadway earlier than scheduled and cost $600 million less than originally projected.

He said moving up the work on the interchange will improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, which is essential to job development and business expansion.

In all, Walker was high on the state and free with his slogans, but short on specifics. After 30 days he should be more forthcoming with plans than campaign rhetoric. Hopefully, there will be more substance when he sends his budget repair and biennial budget request to the Legislature over the next few months.

Categories: Politics

0 thoughts on “Walker: “We are Wisconsin, we will lead the way””

  1. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion there is NO substance. Walker can talk all he wants about jobs but he is the one who laid off so many in Milwaukee County, and the one who let our infrastructure, roads and buildings go to ruin while he rubbed elbows with anyone and everyone who would contribute to his run for governor. He left lawsuits and a ton of problems in his wake. The entire State of Wisconsin is next. During the next four or eight years he will be working his elbows overtime to gain a financial edge large enough to move on and fool more people. Make no mistake – his only goal is to eventually achieve what he thinks is the ultimate power – the presidency. God help us all.

  2. Anonymous says:

    God help us all indeed! This governor and the new crop of toadies in the legislature are set to dismantle things that are dear to the hearts of Wisconsinites. They will trash our glorious environment with their wetlands bill; put a headlock on our K-12 schools; freeze out our great university system; prevent average citizens from being able to sue corporations for grievances; prevent many seniors, students and those in poverty from exercising their right to vote; – in general, set our state back many years. Watch closely, everybody. We can begin to take it back in two years – – –

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wisconsin will pay dearly for electing this fool. How is Governor Wrecker going to bring jobs to Wisconsin by driving out the rail industry (an established fact already), the wind turbine industry (he’s working on it with prohibitive regulations), the water industry (ruined wetlands = bad water and not enough of it), the biotech industry (remember his vow to stop stem cell research?), and agriculture (promised land-use policices that favor development)?

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