Politics

Reality Check: How much was accomplished since 2016 State of the State?

Checking up on last year's promises

Reality Check: How much was...

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker is preparing his seventh "State of the State" address for Tuesday afternoon.

News 3 looked at what was accomplished in the year since his 2016 address in a Reality Check.

The governor's 2016 address laid out a few specific policy goals, and one was to put more people to work.

"Looking ahead, we have an aggressive plan over the next year to ensure that everyone who wants a job can find a job," Walker said.

Looking at labor statistics in the state, the unemployment rate is down slightly since his speech, from 4.2 to 4.1 percent statewide. There are now 30,400 more people working in the state than last year at this time, which is a one percent increase.

Walker also made some promises about education.

"We're excited to work with the University of Wisconsin system to explore providing a three-year degree that would start in high schools and continue on UW campuses," Walker said.

This program has not happened yet.

A spokeswoman for the UW System said they have "several concepts in the works" to have students complete their first year of college while in high school, but none have been rolled out.

The governor also promised to expand the UW Flex Degree program to enough students equal to a new UW campus.

So far, the system has added one new degree just last month, and since 2014, 1,011 students have enrolled to get a flex degree, which is far fewer than are enrolled on current campuses.

Walker also asked lawmakers to pass a series of bills he said would help with student loan debt. 

"We believe that these measures can garner bipartisan support in this legislative session," Walker said.

Of a package of six bills that were offered, four of them passed both houses and became law, including emergency grants for students and an increased number of internship opportunities. The Legislature did not pass a key measure that would allow for the full deduction of student loan interest on state income taxes.

"One area to consider for real reform is the way we administer health insurance to state employees, which some experts believe could save tens of millions of dollars," Walker said in an additional policy proposal in 2016. "Tonight, I commit to investing every penny of savings to the general fund from these reforms to support public education."

News 3 finds this has also not happened. The state's group insurance board has been considering a move to self-insurance, which is a drastic change to the current health insurance program in the state. Last month, the board delayed a decision, saying they'd take up the issue again this month.  

A spokesman for the Governor said Monday that the administration "continues to actively pursue these taxpayer-friendly reforms that would benefit public schools."

Finally, the governor promised to be a good listener.

"I am proud to announce that we are going to visit every part of the state to hold listening sessions throughout 2016," he said. 

The governor's office said he made 77 stops across Wisconsin and visited all 72 counties, but those stops were not with any member of the public who wished to meet with Walker. The events were for invited guests only, and not open to the public.


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