Excerpts from Governor Walker's State of the State speech - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Excerpts from Governor Walker's State of the State speech

MADISON (PRESS RELEASE) -- Gov. Scott Walker has released the following remarks prepared for his State of the State speech:
When I addressed you in this chamber last January, Wisconsin had suffered through three years of 150,000 of our fellow citizens losing their jobs. The unemployment rate was 7.5%.  And after years of tax increases and budget tricks, Wisconsin faced one of the largest budget deficits in the country.
Now, our unemployment rate is down from a year ago.  In fact, it's the lowest it's been since 2008.  We are turning things around.  We are heading in the right direction.
During the past year, we added thousands of new jobs.  And we balanced the state budget.  We balanced it -- without raising taxes; without massive layoffs; and without budget tricks; all of which allowed us to put more than $1.2 billion of new state money into Medicaid programs like Badgercare and FamilyCare.
To create more jobs, employers told us they also need help cutting through the red tape of government.
Tonight, I'm announcing new members to the Small Business Regulatory Review Board which has the authority to review every rule in all of our state agencies.  I will direct our agencies to work with them to remove antiquated and unnecessary regulations that pose a threat to creating new jobs.
For the five years prior to last year, the average school tax levy increased $220 million per year.  Our reforms led to the first decrease in the school property tax levy in six years.  The total school tax levy actually went down by more than $47 million. 
That means real money in the hands of real people.  People like Pam Petry of Rice Lake.  Mrs. Petry saw her property tax go down by more than $100 this year.  Or people like Gail Griswold of West Salem who was surprised to see her bill go down, too.
Last year, I appointed the bipartisan Commission on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.  The members turned in their final report earlier this month.  In it, they identified over $400 million in savings for the taxpayers.
 We've already implemented some of the recommendations from this report.  And to date, these reforms have saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.  That's a great start.
 But identifying waste isn't enough; we need to eliminate it.  To that end, I'm announcing the Waste, Fraud and Abuse Elimination Taskforce charged with the responsibility to follow through on the report.
Because I respect the hard working people of Wisconsin, I will continue to be a good steward of the taxpayers' dollar.  Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse is a top priority of my administration.
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