Gov. Walker pushes for mining legislation; legislators react - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Gov. Walker pushes for mining legislation; legislators react

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MADISON (WAOW) -

In his third State of the State address, Governor Scott Walker focused on the state's finances and the importance of job creation.

Tuesday night's speech had a much different tone than just a year ago when Governor Walker was facing a massive recall effort.

Walker started the speech by focusing on his successes.

"We put in place long-term structural reforms that helped us balance state and local government budgets for years to come," the governor said.

He focused on the topic of jobs and how to create more. He said he still has a goal to help create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin.

"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," said Walker.

Walker also proposed cutting income taxes for the middle class.

Later on, he zeroed-in on education initiatives.

"Going forward, our educational efforts must be focused on performance," Walker said.

He told legislators gathered at the capitol that he has a plan to make his ideas a reality. Specifics will be released next month in the governor's budget.

Meanwhile, several legislators from our area are reacting to the speech.

Many Democrats said Walker's speech was short on specifics and a bit theatrical. But some Democrats from north-central Wisconsin said they appreciated his address. They're just waiting to see what his ideas will look like.

Walker's fellow Republicans say the governor has the groundwork to do accomplish his goal of helping create jobs.

"I think he set the plan, I think we just need to carry it on," said State Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield).

Governor Walker wants a new iron mine in northwestern Wisconsin to help accomplish his goal. To get the point across, he invited a group of unemployed minors to the podium.

Republicans hope the bill passes this time, unlike last year.

"We're going to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle and I'm sure hoping that we're going to be able to pass a bill on a bipartisan basis," State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) told Newsline 9.

Some Democrats said they'd also like to see an iron mine in Wisconsin, but with some conditions.

"Last time the Assembly passed a bill that would strip 40 percent of the money and send it to the state," said State Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink (D-Milladore). "I believe when you're going to have mining in your communities, the money needs to stay with the communities for infrastructure, for legal work, everything that needs to be done."

State Rep. Mandy Wright (D-Wausau) added, "I think a lot about the long-term effects, but obviously we need jobs, too, so I am waiting to see the actual bill before I make any final decisions."

But Democrats criticized other parts of Walker's speech. State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) said Walker needs to put money back into public education that was cut in the last budget.

And State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) said she hopes Walker will work with Democrats this year to get things done.

Political reality favors the GOP as that party controls the State Senate and Assembly. Still, the state will be watching closely to see if Republicans and Democrats will work together this session as each side has indicated it wants to.

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