MADISON, Wis. -

Gov. Scott Walker said in his State of the State speech that the state's economy is improving because of decisions he made during his first year in office.

READ: See Tag Cloud Of Walker's State Of The State Address

Wisconsin's unemployment rate has improved from 7.5 percent to 7.1 percent, and there are 13,500 more private-sector jobs than when Walker took over.

However, the state has lost jobs in each of the past six months, and Walker is far from fulfilling his campaign promise to add 250,000 jobs by 2015.

But Walker said balancing the budget last year without raising taxes or laying off workers puts Wisconsin in a good position for future growth.

"We balanced the $3.6 billion budget deficit with long-term structural reforms. We thought more about the next generation than the next election," Walker said.

During his speech, Walker asked small business owners to consider hiring more workers.

"Tonight I'm asking small business owners from across the state to consider hiring at least one more person this year. Imagine how many more people we could get working if we all pitched in together," Walker said.

Walker didn't talk about the effort to recall him from office in his State of the State speech. The word "recall" wasn't even mentioned in his speech.

Last week, petition circulators said they turned in about 1 million signatures to trigger a recall election. Those signatures are currently being reviewed.

Instead of talking about the effort to oust him, Walker instead talked about his achievements since taking office and urged civility among political opponents.

The governor was interrupted five times during his address by protesters in the gallery.

Democrats said Walker has torn the state apart and there is nothing he can say in his speech to appease those seeking a recall.

In the speech, Walker announced the creation of a new board with the authority to review every rule in place across state government.

Walker said that he will direct agencies to work with the Small Business Regulatory Review Board. He said he wants them to remove antiquated and unnecessary regulations that pose a threat to creating new jobs.

Walker said he is also appointing a special task force to implement recommendations to eliminate government waste.

The group worked last year to identify $400 million in potential savings. Walker said the new task force will have the responsibility of following through with the report.

He said eliminating waste, fraud and abuse is a top priority of his administration. Walker also asked members of the public to submit their own ideas at the website bestpractices.wi.gov.

Walker also called on the Legislature to pass a bill making it easier for an iron mine to open in northern Wisconsin.

The Republican-controlled Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday and it is expected to pass despite Democratic opposition. They and others are concerned about the effects of the project on the environment.

But Walker said in his speech to lawmakers that it holds the promise of creating hundreds of jobs and would be good for the state's economy.

It's unclear if the bill has enough support to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Republican lawmakers said Walker gave a good speech that made a strong case that Wisconsin is in better shape now than a year ago.

"(There were) difficult choices, but when you look at where the state of Wisconsin was a year ago compared to now, it's in much better state of shape," said Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.

Democrats Say Walker Failed To Deliver In Speech