Gov. Scott Walker focused his seventh State of the State address Tuesday on “working and winning for Wisconsin.” Walker highlighted successes in the economy, education, healthcare since he took office in 2011, and laid out his plans for his upcoming budget and next two years as governor.
Walker emphasized growing the Wisconsin workforce as a top priority of 2017. He praised Wisconsin’s low unemployment rate and friendly business climate, and promised to further welfare reform and tax cuts in the upcoming term. Walker also highlighted his choice not to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, stating that Wisconsin outranks many states in healthcare.
The budget plans laid out in Walker’s address included a controversial cut in tuition for the UW system and a total $52 million investment in rural broadband access. Walker also reiterated his promise to provide the largest increase in transportation aids to local communities since the 1990s without raising the gas tax or vehicle registration fees.
Walker called first lady Tonette Walker to the stage briefly to discuss Fostering Futures, her effort to train state employees in trauma-informed care.
In the Democratic response, Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Schilling (D-La Crosse) raised doubts about many of Walker’s plans. Shilling cited cuts to public schools, increased property taxes and failing roads among other examples of the state’s failures throughout Walker’s term. Shilling then laid out the Democrats’ goals to increase wages and solve infrastructure and broadband issues, among others.
More specifics on Walker’s upcoming plans are expected in his state budget address next month. Stay updated with the latest on the 2017-19 budget here.
Read the full text of Walker’s State of the State address.