Friday, October 12, 2012

E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker

E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker
One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government. I also frequently provide updates on Facebook (Governor Scott Walker) and Twitter (@govwalker). Please feel free to share this update with your family, friends, and others who may be interested in state government operations.

2013-15 State Budget Update
The State of Wisconsin operates on biennial state budgets with each fiscal year running from July 1st to June 30th. We are currently operating under “Fiscal Year 2013” (FY2013) and will be until June 30, 2013.

I recently received budget requests from each state agency, which outline the money each agency would like to spend in the future. Over the next few months, I will be carefully reviewing each of these agency budget requests. These requests are just the first step in the budget process—I will eventually propose a complete budget early next year for consideration by the Legislature.

The 2011-13 budget I signed into law last year made long-term reforms balancing a $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, without massive public employee layoffs, and without government service reductions. Wisconsin has a projected budget surplus in FY2013. If the FY2013 projections are correct, we will deposit money into the state’s rainy day fund in two consecutive years for the first time in our state’s history. Unlike other states, instead of burying the next generation under a mountain of economically crippling debt, we are making responsible decisions—leaving our children and grandchildren with funding reserves for future hard economic times.

The next state budget I plan to introduce early next year will focus on five main priorities:
1. Creating Jobs
2. Transforming Education
3. Developing Our Workforce
4. Investing in Infrastructure
5. Reforming Government

As I work on the next state budget, I am excited about Wisconsin’s future and the opportunities we have to grow private sector jobs in our great state.

Get to Know a Cabinet Member: Mike Huebsch
As Governor, one of the most important tasks I have is to appoint and communicate with leaders in each state agency. These leaders, called secretaries, ensure agencies run smoothly and efficiently as they operate state government and implement government reforms. 

For a few weeks, in lieu of the “Just Ask the Governor” section, I will be highlighting a cabinet secretary and providing a brief overview of the department he or she oversees. I hope these updates will provide you with practical information about state government operations, especially as we head into the next budget cycle. 
Since I took office in 2011, Mike Huebsch has served as the Secretary of the Department of Administration (DOA). Before taking the appointment, Mike was a Wisconsin State Representative from the La Crosse area. While representing a portion of Western Wisconsin, he served as the Speaker of the Assembly and served on the Joint Committee on Finance, the Legislative committee that oversees the state’s budget. His detailed state budget knowledge made him a perfect fit for Secretary of DOA and his Western Wisconsin roots added geographic diversity to my cabinet. 
DOA has thirteen divisions, approximately 950 employees, and has a variety of responsibilities. Specifically, DOA:
  • Ensures state government has regular communication with the eleven sovereign nation tribes that call Wisconsin home;
  • Provides energy assistance to citizens across the state, as well as works to help provide access to affordable housing;
  • Has oversight of the Capitol Police and operations in the State Capitol;
  • Provides centralized purchasing, payroll and financial management for state government; and
  • Administers purchasing and leasing agreements for state buildings and workplaces.
Mike lives with his wife, Valerie, and his sons, Ryan and Brett, in West Salem.

Lowering the Flag
Private First Class Arthur W. Hopfensperger was killed in action on November 28, 1950, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. U.S. forces were involved in heavy combat and were unable to retrieve Private First Class Hopfensperger’s remains. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command was finally able to recover his remains during a 2002-2005 excavation. 
Second Lieutenant James A. Des Jardins was killed in action on November 25, 1944, after his plane was shot down in World War II during a bombing and strafing run of a railroad station in southwestern Germany. Second Lieutenant Des Jardins’ plane was not recovered until June 2011, when it was discovered by German officials dredging a field. Both of these soldiers were identified using DNA samples provided by their families, and in September 2012, were officially accounted for by the United States military.

One way we honor military members who have given the ultimate sacrifice is by lowering the United States and Wisconsin State flags to half-staff. Federal and state laws require the flags to be lowered on specific occasions. Beyond these specific occasions, the United States Flag Code gives the President and governors the authority to lower the flag in certain situations, like when a Wisconsin soldier gives his or her life fighting for democracy and freedom abroad. Traditionally, the flag is lowered on the day of a fallen soldier’s funeral. This past week, I ordered the flag at half-staff as a mark of respect for Private First Class Arthur W. Hopfensperger and Second Lieutenant James A. Des Jardins.

Independent Waterfowl Audit Completed

Back in 2009 and 2010 while I was interviewing to be Governor, I promised to conduct an independent audit of the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) management of the Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp Program. This week, the first in a series of annual audits of fish and wildlife accounts was completed.

The independent audit was conducted by Wegner CPAs of Madison and found the revenue collected from the sale of the Waterfowl Stamps for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 was stated accurately and used for the appropriate purposes in accordance with Wisconsin law.

I’m pleased the findings of this audit show the DNR is collecting, reporting, and spending the money collected from the Waterfowl Stamp Program appropriately.
Revenue from the sale of Wisconsin waterfowl stamps totaled $509,864 for the fiscal year. The money supported 19 waterfowl habitat projects in Wisconsin, as well as some projects in Canada that benefit migratory waterfowl. Below are a few examples of projects funded by the Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp Program:
  • Meadow Valley Wildlife Area, Juneau County—Work was recently completed on a damaged dike. The dike is now better equipped to manage water levels on the flowage, impacting 655 acres of marshland.
  • Wetland restoration, Fond du Lac, Outagamie, and Rock Counties—Three restoration projects were completed, which has improved waterfowl conditions in 80 acres of land.
  • Germania Wildlife Area, Marquette County—The Duck Creek dike repair work was completed. As a result, the dike was able to hold up against heavy rain and flooding in May of 2012.
  • Horicon Wildlife Area, Dodge County—There is an ongoing project aimed at eliminating invasive cattails in the Horicon Marsh to improve conditions for breeding and migrating birds.
The complete Waterfowl Stamp Program audit can be viewed by clicking here.

It has been a pleasure communicating with you. It is an honor to serve as your Governor and represent the residents of Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker

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