MADISON, Wis. – Gov. Scott Walker delivered a relatively brief, 25 minute State of the State address Tuesday night that reviewed some of the success of his first term while charting a path forward in the areas of workforce development, education, and the consolidation of government agencies.
Perhaps his most striking line came when Walker discussed school accountability legislation.
Tonight, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass legislation ensuring objective information is available for each and every school receiving public funds in this state. Provide the information and allow parents to make the choice.
No need for bureaucrats or politicians to make that choice—I trust parents. Give them access to objective information and they will make the choice that is best for their children.
Legislative Republicans have presented duelling bills — both heavy on bureaucrats, boards, and political appointees — that would set new accountability standards. Both bills would provide mechanisms for shutting down schools regardless of parental choice. It’s not clear whether the governor was suggesting any sort of alternative route.
Here’s a rundown of the most substantive portions of Walker’s speech.
Our plan will help people get the education and skills they need to succeed. We want the opportunity to be as equal as possible with the outcome left up to each and every one of us. In other words, our plan is to help more people live their piece of the American Dream—right here in Wisconsin.
We will build off of our successes in worker training through the Blueprint for Prosperity we announced last year. So far, we helped put nearly 5,000 more students into classes at our 16 technical colleges throughout the state. Some of them are with us here tonight.
And speaking of what is best for our students, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass legislation making it crystal clear that no school district in the state is required to use Common Core standards. Going forward, I want to eliminate any requirement to use Common Core.
My sons graduated from outstanding public schools in Wauwatosa and my nieces are in public schools as well, so I have a vested interest, like parents all across the state, in high standards. But those standards should be set by people from within Wisconsin—and preferably at the local level.
Government Reform and Consolidation
Currently, the state has two different entities directly involved with economic development. One, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), was created four years ago to replace the old Department of Commerce. The other, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) was created more than four decades ago.
Tonight, I ask the members of the state Legislature to pass legislation combining these two into one, so resources can be shifted from overhead into economic development. Our plan will put an even greater emphasis on working at the grassroots level with local, regional, and private sector partners on economic development.
There are also several agencies, which oversee financial institutions and professional services. Tonight, I call on the members of the state Legislature to approve legislation combining these agencies into a one-stop shop for professional and financial services. In addition, our legislative package will include several other consolidations within existing agencies—as well as further regulatory reforms. We want common sense solutions, not bureaucratic red tape.
Federalism and EPA Regulations
Top-down regulations and mandates from the federal government get in the way of innovation and growth in Wisconsin and states like ours.
Therefore, I am working with our new Attorney General to prepare a lawsuit challenging the newly proposed federal energy regulations. These proposals could have a devastating impact on Wisconsin because we are so heavily dependent on manufacturing.
According to recent reports, we could lose tens of thousands of jobs in our region, and ratepayers could see an increase of up to 29 percent. We will fight to protect Wisconsin’s hard-working families.
Gov. Walker closed his State of the State address on the topic of the recent terror attacks in Paris and the attack on free speech and free expression. This might be the national soundbite Walker was looking to leverage out of the speech and earned a signficant amount of applause.
Last week, innocent people were targeted in France by terrorists. These cowards are not symbols of confidence. They are overwhelmed by fear. They are afraid of freedom.
They are afraid of those who have the freedom of the press. They are afraid of freedom of speech. They are afraid of freedom of religion.
Tonight, we must stand together—Democrat and Republican—and denounce those who wish to threaten freedom anywhere in this world. We need to proclaim that an attack against freedom-loving people anywhere is an attack against us all. And we will not allow it. When we take a stand, we will make it easier to work for freedom and prosperity—right here in Wisconsin.
Finally, there were some notable omissions from Walker’s speech: Right to Work, transportation funding, welfare reform, and GAB reform.