MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker said during his State of the State speech that he's doubling down on efforts to meet his 2010 campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs over four years.
Walker also touted a promised income tax cut for the middle class during the speech Tuesday night to a joint meeting of the Legislature.
Walker said he will also improve the amount of investment capital, tie K-12 school funding to performance and expand school choice programs.
"Moving forward, we want to continue to dramatically improve existing schools and give parents the opportunity to choose legitimate alternatives to failing schools," Walker said.
The speech was short on details about what the governor's agenda will look like over the next year. The Republican said those will come in his budget address next month.
Walker said Wisconsin is moving forward "with bold vision and bright hope for the future."
"I will work hard each and every day so we can help people all across Wisconsin have the chance to have a job, and work hard to support themselves and their families for generations to come," Walker said.
Walker said in his State of the State address that modifying hundreds of rules will make it easier to do business in Wisconsin.
Just minutes before his Tuesday speech Walker released a report that identifies 300 rules modifications in 218 administrative code chapters deemed unnecessary, obsolete, or burdensome.
Walker has made streamlining state regulations one of his priorities. He said he looks forward to working with Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on changes. Vos has also prioritized the issue.
Workers who support opening an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin showed their support by joining Walker at his State of the State speech.
Carpenters, millwrights and others stood behind Walker as he gave his speech. They held a state of Wisconsin flag as Walker pointed out the image of a miner and a miner's tools.
Walker is calling on the Legislature to quickly pass a bill easing regulations to allow for a new iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin near Lake Superior.
"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.
Republicans who control the Legislature plan to unveil the new proposal on Wednesday morning. They said they hope to pass a bill by early March.
Democrats said Walker's State of the State speech was short on details and full of fluff.
Democrats said even though Walker promised in the speech to focus on creating jobs, he has shown no urgency to do so over the first two years of his term.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson of Milwaukee said the 30-minute speech was "high on theatrics but low on substance."
"He's had this same priority of trying to set jobs as our No. 1 priority for two years but he said that but we haven't seen the results of that," Larson said.
And Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said in reaction to Walker's speech Tuesday that the governor and Republicans in charge of the Legislature have repeatedly failed to act to help create jobs.
Barca said Walker did not give a candid assessment of where the state stands. He noted that after two years of talking about job creation, Wisconsin continues to lag other states.
Barca said it's far past time to stop spending time on polarizing, less-pressing partisan issues.
Democrats said their priorities include refunding the technical colleges to help close the skills gap between what employers are looking for and what candidates possess.
They're also putting a priority on restoring the money cut from education from K-12 to universities. Democrats also said the state needs accept money from the federal government to expand Medicaid, which is part of the president's health care law.
But Assembly Republican Speaker Robin Vos said Walker laid out an aggressive agenda for the GOP-controlled Legislature.
"I think (the governor) was clear tonight, saying we want to focus on regulatory reform, cutting taxes, making sure people make more money than they do today, and lastly, that we have a mining bill for him to sign sometime this spring. I think that's a pretty aggressive agenda for the Legislature," Vos said.
"I think that it's a precursor to the budget, like it typically is, so there's more details yet to come But I think he reiterated a lot of the things that the Republican legislature's been talking about and that we're on the right track," said Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
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