State Leaders Sound Off on Walker’s Address
Left, Senator Julie Lassa and Assemblywoman Katrina Shankland. (Contributed photo)
Rep. Katrina Shankland, Stevens Point
I am very concerned by the short-sighted plan Governor Walker outlined tonight. While it’s politically convenient to declare there’s a surplus, let’s be clear: the ‘surplus’ of $991 million was created by woefully underinvesting in Wisconsin’s greatest asset – our children. It isn’t a surplus if Wisconsin’s basic needs haven’t been met. Severe cuts to public schools should not be celebrated.
But instead of reinvesting in our public schools, the governor plans to spend the surplus on a tax cut. This election-year gimmick will not make middle class families forget how Republicans deprioritized public education and failed to create jobs for the people of Wisconsin.
Governor Walker’s plan is fiscally irresponsible. In fact, the governor himself has admitted that his tax plan will add another $100 million to his $725 million structural deficit. This is not the leadership Wisconsin deserves.
Too many Wisconsin families continue to struggle with unemployment or have seen their wages and quality of life decline under Governor Walker’s failed leadership. Wisconsin consistently ranks at the bottom of the nation in job creation, while other states are well on the road to economic recovery.
Now is the time to focus on reducing income inequality, growing the middle class, and strengthening our economy. Instead, the Governor has presented a careless plan that ignores our most important priorities.
Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink, Milladore
If the public is to view the state of Wisconsin through the lens of Governor Walker’s speech tonight, it would be well served first to wipe off the milky film of mischaracterizations and gimmicks that impede his perspective and urgency on the investments that fulfill Wisconsinites’ priorities and values,” stated Vruwink. “Behind his rhetoric is the reality that, under Governor Walker, Wisconsin is 37th in job growth, will have an $825 million structural deficit, and will charge taxpayers millions of dollars more to cover fewer individuals with essential health insurance.
Unfortunately, in the 70th Assembly District, I have met many of the hardworking families who will be kicked off of BadgerCare, I have driven the rural roads that need improvement, and I have heard from too many individuals whose property taxes have increased because of inadequate investments in public education and decreased aids to local governments.
We have the ability and resources to improve the state of Wisconsin for our hard working families, but it requires a commitment to addressing job creation, to enhancing public education and job training opportunities for everyone, and to prioritizing Wisconsin values.”
I look forward to seeing more details on the proposals Governor Walker discussed tonight. Like legislators of both parties, I too am concerned that we don’t take actions that could create fiscal trouble down the road. The recent projected increase in state revenues has to be balanced against an $800 million structural deficit, as well as a $93 million BadgerCare shortfall and a $19 million gap in the W-2 budget. With that in mind, the question is whether we really have a budget surplus.
We also need to remember that our state’s economy is still only muddling along. Wisconsin has fallen from 11th to 37th in job growth since the governor took office, and long term unemployment is threatening the security of middle class families. To remedy that, we should invest in economic development programs to help create more jobs. A strong education infrastructure, from early childhood through college, as well as worker training programs, will help insure that our workforce has the skills it needs to succeed. And restoring the Earned Income Credit, BadgerCare and other programs will help keep middle class workers and their families from falling into poverty.
I understand in an election year it’s tempting to do the politically expedient thing, but I hope we can take the long view and take action to improve our economy and foster a better future for all Wisconsin families.
Rep. Scott Krug, Rome
The goals laid out by Governor Walker for the State of Wisconsin in the next two years will make Wisconsin an even better place to live, learn and work. Thanks to the hard work of the Wisconsin State Legislature and the leadership and guidance of Governor Scott Walker Wisconsin has a surplus of nearly $912 million due to our smart fiscal management and bold reforms.
When you look at the numbers that the Fiscal Bureau has laid out it shows that we are growing, that we are going in the right direction, that this is a sustainable growth and it’s not just a blip on the radar screen. It actually shows that we’re really moving in the right direction because of the great things we have done the last four years.
The total tax relief provided since we took office back in 2011 will be roughly $2 billion. The typical Wisconsin family will see $231 in income tax relief each year and everyone who pays taxes will receive a 10% cut on their first $10,750 amount of income. All homeowners will be saving $100 a year, permanently, on a $150,000 home. In other words, the more money in your paycheck will mean more expendable income for you to decide how to spend it instead of the politicians in Madison.
Tax relief isn’t the only area of improvement we are addressing. The Governor’s plan calls for investment in our technical colleges to improve worker training and to connect potential employees with the 50,000+ jobs listed on the Job Center of Wisconsin website. We will also be investing in training workers with disabilities (an initiative close to my heart). As an employment training specialist I know firsthand that these workers are key to our continued success and have many abilities that are simply overlooked.
This is what the last four years have been about; creating jobs, opportunities and the skills for everyone to have a chance to live the American Dream, while at the same time reducing the amount of tax burden, government control and influence. For more information on the Governors Blueprint for Prosperity go to prosperity.wi.gov and use the calculator to find out how much you will save this year on your property tax bill.