Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker delivered his State of the State address Wednesday night in Madison. You can read the full text of his address below, as provided by his administration.
Speaker Fitzgerald, Speaker Pro Tem Kramer, President Ellis, Majority Leader Fitzgerald, Minority Leader Miller, Minority Leader Barca, members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Constitutional Officers, tribal leaders, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, members of the Legislature, my wife Tonette and our family and most importantly fellow citizens of the great state of Wisconsin, it is an honor to appear before you tonight.
Next to my wife is the Adjutant General of Wisconsin Major General Don Dunbar. I want to thank him and the more than 10,000 members of our state's National Guard.
With him tonight are the members of the 724th Engineer Battalion. I first spoke with them when they were deployed in Iraq. I greeted them when they returned home and then, I saw many of them again this summer as they responded to the massive damage caused by the wind storms in northwestern Wisconsin.
Their dedication - to their country, their state and, their communities is a prime example of what we all know as the Spirit of Wisconsin. We thank them - and all of the other men and women in uniform: both past and present - for their service.
Before we begin our conversation, let us take a moment to honor a member of our state government family, who couldn’t be with us tonight. Representative Tamara Grigsby is fighting a brave battle. Like so many of you, Tonette and I continue to send our thoughts and prayers to Representative Grigsby and her family, and we look forward to seeing her in this chamber again very soon.
Tonight, we come together to discuss the state of our state. To do so, we need to remember where we were as a state prior to a year ago, what we’ve accomplished over the past year and most importantly where we are headed in the year to come.
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.
Tonight, I want to share with you how we got here and I want to share our plan for:
- Helping the people of Wisconsin create more jobs,
- Keeping a balanced budget and
- Improving the education of our kids by working together.
When I ran for governor, I talked a great deal about the core principles I call “Brown Bag Common Sense.” One of those principles is that people create jobs, not the government.
In the past, however, some thought that the government did create jobs and that's how they justified raising taxes to pay for the unsustainable expansion of government.
That thinking might explain why prior to my taking office the state lost 150,000 private sector jobs.
In contrast, I believe it is the people of this state who create jobs and not the government. With that in mind, I set out to improve the climate for small businesses in Wisconsin.
Last year, we passed some of the most aggressive pro-jobs legislation in the country. And we did it with help from lawmakers in both parties because these aren’t Republican or Democrat jobs, they’re Wisconsin jobs.
Tonight I'm happy to report that after three years of losing 150,000 jobs Wisconsin actually added thousands of new jobs in 2011. New business formations are up by over 2 percent. And our unemployment rate is down from a year ago.
In fact, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is not only lower than the national average but much better than our neighbors to the south in Illinois.
Most importantly, we improved the climate for job creators here in Wisconsin over the past year.
Today, 94% of our job creators believe Wisconsin is headed in the right direction. That compares to just ten percent who thought the same thing just two years ago. And a majority of these employers say they're going to grow in 2012.
They will join companies like RUUD Lighting in Sturtevant or Uline in Hudson, Collaborative Consulting in Wausau or Shopko in Green Bay, Generac in Whitewater or City Brewing in La Crosse - all of whom announced new jobs during the past year.
They’ll join Kestrel Aircraft in Superior. I was just there two weeks ago when they announced they're adding 600 new jobs. The Mayor said it was the largest jobs project in the region since World War II.
But, the inspiring stories don’t come just from company owners or plant managers; they come from employees.