Gov. Walker says Wis. headed in right direction - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Gov. Walker says Wis. headed in right direction

MADISON (WKOW) --After a year filled with controversial collective bargaining restrictions that led to protests and ultimately a recall effort, Governor Scott Walker spoke to Wisconsin residents about the State of the State Wednesday night.

Gov. Walker's message focused on job creation, lower taxes and better schools.

But, even at his own State of the State, Gov. Walker couldn't escape cries of protest.

Shortly after Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) introduced the Governor, there were cheers followed by boos.

It was clear Gov. Walker faced a room that is much like Wisconsin: divided.

"I will continue to be a good steward of the taxpayer dollars," Gov. Walker remarked at one point.

That sentence was immediately followed by a protestor screaming: "Liar!!! Recall Walker!", from the gallery.

But the Governor ignored the jeers, and tried to deliver a message of growth in several areas.

"Tonight, I'm happy to report that after three years of losing 150,000 jobs, Wisconsin actually added thousands of new jobs in 2011," Gov. Walker announced.

The Governor promised more jobs, highlighting the proposed iron ore mine in Northwestern Wisconsin, that will be voted on in the Assembly on Thursday.

"Now it is time for Wisconsin to move forward on a project that is not only about jobs but also about the history of our badger state," said Gov. Walker, to a smattering of both cheers and boos.

The Governor never specifically mentioned his budget reforms that severely restricted the collective bargaining rights of state workers and cut their benefits.

But he did talk a lot about the benefits of those reforms, such as using them to balance the state's $3.6 billion budget deficit.

"And isn't that what the people elected us to do?", Gov. Walker said to an eruption of cheering.

He also highlighted a decrease in school property taxes combined with savings for school districts.

"For example, before our reforms, school districts often had to buy their health insurance from one company which cost them millions of dollars," said Gov. Walker.  "Now, they can bid it out and that is saving school districts millions of dollars across the state."

In closing, the Governor touched ever so slightly on the divide in Wisconsin, imparting what he called a valuable lesson.

"Don't personalize your differences," advised the Governor.  "Over the years, I passed that on to many others with the simple reminder that your opponent today may be your ally tomorrow."



MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says in his State of the State speech that Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, even though opponents have mounted a historic effort to toss him from office less than midway through his term.

Walker delivered his speech Wednesday night under tight security not seen since the Capitol was engulfed in massive protests last year.

Walker did not mention the recall in his speech delivered to a joint session of the Legislature.

Instead, Walker noted that the state's unemployment rate has improved over the past year and more people are back to work.

Democrats say Walker has torn the state apart and there is nothing he can say in the speech to appease the estimated 1 million people who signed recall petitions.

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