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Reality Check: Governor's 2013 State of the State promises

Speech to include plans for tax cut

MADISON, Wis. - Reality Check: Governor's 2013 State of the State promises

Gov. Scott Walker is set to give his fourth State of the State speech Wednesday night, and he has already said it will include plans of a tax cut.

Both tax cuts and regulation changes were just a few of the promises made by Walker in last year's address, and News 3 looked at what got done.

This past year was a budget year, and in his January speech, the governor gave a preview of the document he would propose.

"I will lay out a clear plan for reducing the burden on hardworking families by lowering income taxes on the middle class," Walker said.

Walker did propose, and the legislature passed, an income tax cut of $651 million. That amounts to $158 a year for the average tax filer, an amount that was doubled from his original proposal midway through the budget process as new revenue numbers came in.

"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 in the speech.

Walker urged the passage of a controversial mining bill to create jobs in northern Wisconsin a year after doing the same thing in the 2012 State of the State address with no results. A bill passed this time, to the chagrin of many Democrats who were worried about environmental concerns, and Gogebic Taconite is now in the early phases of drilling and testing for a mine in the coming years.

"I look forward to working with lawmakers in both parties on ways to improve the amount of investment capital available to help startups and small businesses grow," Walker said in the speech.

The administration also accomplished this on a bipartisan basis. Walker signed a bill providing $25 million for startup companies after two years of work on the measure. Some criticized the dollar amount of the final bill, saying it wasn't enough to spur capital growth.

Then we get to some of the things that haven't been fully accomplished, which include a way to address the skills gap.

"Our state needs a way to accurately measure employment on a real-time basis," Walker said. "We are working with members of the legislature to enact a system to help us connect workers to jobs in areas of great need."

A bill passed in March put $15 million toward worker-training grants for specific labor needs. But that system to track real-time jobs is still under construction. The Department of Workforce Development announced a company would work on the project to beef up the Job Center website in October, but don't anticipate it launching until late this year.

Then there's the effort announced to change around 300 state rules and regulations, a report by a small business council the governor rolled out last January.

"Making these changes will make it easier to do business in the state while maintaining the safety and health of our citizens," Walker said.

News 3 found much of this remains undone. Walker has signed just two rule-change bills into law, three were up for consideration in the Assembly Tuesday and another dozen have been introduced. The governor's office wasn't able to provide numbers on how many of these rules have been changed at the agency level without legislation.

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