Friday, March 23, 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.

Economic Growth to Continue


Wisconsin’s economy is continuing to turn around. You don’t have to take my word for it—this week the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank released a new economic growth forecast for states. Their report forecasts Wisconsin to grow 1.95 percent over the next six months. It is the best economic forecast for our state since 2003. Wisconsin also experienced the most improved forecast in the nation.

A copy of the report and historical data can be found at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s website.

Also for the second month in a row Wisconsin’s economy added jobs, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Initial estimates show that we gained more than 4,000 private sector jobs in February. We’ve added 17,800 private sector joTrtsabs in the first two months of 2012.

Bipartisan Bills Signed into Law


This week I signed more than 20 bills into law, which expanded Family Care, improved government operations, and revised outdated state statutes.

Last summer, I told the Journal Sentinel editorial board that we would have a plan to lift the caps on the Family Care program by the end of the year. In December, we laid out our plan to expand the program and ensure that it remains fiscally sustainable long into the future. This week, I followed through on my plan and signed a bill into law which lifts the caps so that more seniors needing long-term care, as well as people with developmental and physical disabilities, can participate in Family Care. The Family Care bill I signed received widespread bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature.

This week I also signed Senate Bill (SB) 453 into law, which streamlines the operations of the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). This bill is just one example of how we have taken steps to improve services to the taxpayers we serve while reducing the cost of government. The best part about this bill is that the majority of changes came directly from DSPS employees who made suggestions on ways they thought the agency could run more efficiently. The good, hardworking public employees of DSPS deserve credit for stepping up and working to improve their agency. While this bill made a number of changes, one specific example of what this bill does is delete a provision of law that requires local units of government to submit a copy of each and every sanitary permit to DSPS. Instead, SB 453 allows for the periodic submission of a simple and more cost-effective tally sheet. The common sense reforms contained in this bill were supported by State Senators and State Representatives of both political parties.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which is why I signed a number of bills into law to eliminate the use of the ‘r’ word in state statutes, expand access to educational materials for students with disabilities, and clearly define how school officials can use seclusion and physical restraint on students in school. These pieces of legislation also received bipartisan support.

Track Your State Agencies on Twitter


As your Governor, I am working hard to build a lean and transparent state government that works efficiently for the people of Wisconsin. Some of the tools our state agencies are using to reach out and become even more accessible are social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Take a look at some of the useful information being tweeted out by Wisconsin state agencies below and consider following them for even more updates.

Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection: @widatcp
Recent Tweet: I uploaded a @YouTube video http://youtu.be/hVunyAWEm-4?a Interview with Secretary Brancel on Dairy 30x20


Department of Health Services: @DHSWI
Recent Tweet: For the children in your life, the Poison Control Hotline is one of the most important numbers to keep handy: 1-800-222-1222.

Department of Natural Resources: @WDNR
Recent Tweet: Moose photographed on Highway 8 at the intersection with Hay Meadow road east of Rhinelander. http://pic.twitter.com/7lD6qf6B

Public Service Commission: @PSCWisconsin
Recent Tweet: Is your community taking the Clean Water Pledge?http://bit.ly/GDPapE via @AddThis

Department of Tourism: @TravelWI
Recent Tweet: #Wisconsin is home to over 70 active and innovative breweries. Sip and sample on one of these #brewery tours: http://t.co/Ow71bzJO

Department of Transportation: @WisconsinUS41, @zeroinwisconsin, & others
Recent Tweet: Driver in rush to get to Oregon court picks up 3 speeding tickets worth $2,000 in an hour.

Department of Veterans Affairs: @WisVets
Recent Tweet: Did you hear about Operation Greatest Generation, a day-long event for our WWII vets on May 4? Mark your calendar!

Department of Workforce Development: @WIWorkforce
Recent Tweet: RT @JobCenterWI: VERSEVO INC in Hartland, WI is hiring! There are 15 job openings posted here: http://bit.ly/VersevoJobs #job

As always, I provide updates from the Governor’s office on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/GovernorScottWalker) and Twitter @GovWalker. Thanks for following!


Just Ask the Governor: Part 10


Each e-update, I will answer a question submitted by a recipient of the previous e-update or from someone who contacts my office directly.

Question: With recent corporate tax increases in Illinois, what is Wisconsin doing to lure businesses to our state–especially in the stateline areas?

Answer: My administration has been very aggressive in recruiting businesses specifically from Illinois, in addition to reaching out to employers from other states and countries.

Specifically, we have worked tirelessly to enact pro-growth initiatives to improve Wisconsin’s overall business climate by reforming our tax, regulatory and litigation processes. We are phasing in a new qualified production activities credit that will virtually eliminate the income and franchise taxes on manufacturing and agricultural businesses in Wisconsin. Most importantly, we provided certainty for employers and taxpayers through fiscal reforms that solved a $3.6 billion state budget deficit without relying on one-time solutions, tricks, and gimmicks.

We have already seen some tangible results Wisconsin’s new open for business attitude. Below are just a few examples:


It is also worth noting that while our neighbors to the south present a stark contrast to what we have been doing in Wisconsin, business owners around the world have taken note of the changes we’ve made to turn our state’s economy around. Just recently a manufacturing company moved back to Antigo from China. You can read a very interesting article about the company’s decision to move back to Wisconsin by clicking here.

While I will continue to aggressively pursue companies from all over the world to come to Wisconsin, it is important to remember that the majority of job growth over the next few years will likely take place by employers already doing business in Wisconsin. Specifically, we can continue to have an impact on employers who are considering expanding in Wisconsin. Recent indicators have shown that employers believe our state and its economy are now headed in the right direction. I am hopeful that with that trend, coupled with an effective worker training plan, we can encourage Wisconsin employers to expand here.



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


Sincerely,


Governor Scott Walker

Weather


Weather in WI for the last few weeks has been very hot and sunny. It had even reached the 80's! Today was cloudy and we had showers.

by AR, age 7

Ron Paul Ad: Etch A Sketch

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Civilian psych staff doubled since 2007 - Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Army Times

Civilian psych staff doubled since 2007 - Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Army Times

People with autism possess greater ability to process information, study suggests

People with autism possess greater ability to process information, study suggests

Tea Party group backs Steelman for McCaskill seat - The Hill's Ballot Box

Tea Party group backs Steelman for McCaskill seat - The Hill's Ballot Box

Blessings

Our family has been richly blessed lately.  We are expecting our seventh child in October or November.  I am extremely happy and grateful to the Lord.
We spent last weekend up around Niagra, WI, and
Norway, MI, hiking.  What an adventure.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the scenery was breath taking.  The Class IV and V rapids on the Menominee River were formidable looking.  Especially considering the severe lack of snowfall this year.  Here are some photos from the trip.







 If you are going to be in the Northwoods or U.P., I highly recommend Niagra, WI, and Norway, MI as must stops.  The population in both cities is extremely welcoming and helpful with directions and advice on where to visit. 

One city I would avoid is Iron Mountain, MI.  My first visit to that city left a bad taste in my mouth.  Not only is the traffic unbelievably congested for a city of its size, but I found their visitor center to less than welcoming.  The lady promptly informed me that they were closing and I needed to get whatever I was looking for and leave: at around 11:30 in the morning.  I got in a quick question on whether the mine tours were open yet, which elicited a snide "not until Memorial Day" comment through a mouthful of what appeared to be a candy bar.  She went on to explain that I could probably arrange a special group tour.  All-in-all, not the kind of treatment I expected at a visitor center and from a woman of her maturity. 

So far Iron Mountain is the only city I have not like in the U.P.  Though I should have had a clue of what we were in store for when we pulled up and there were prisoners cleaning up the parking lot and yard and the officer had the expression that he was the one doing the hard time.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Russian Anti-Terror Troops Arrive in Syria - ABC News

Russian Anti-Terror Troops Arrive in Syria - ABC News

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.


Putting Politics Before People is Wrong



Earlier this year the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators surveyed 353 school districts (which account for 83% of Wisconsin school districts) and revealed that three school districts (Milwaukee, Kenosha and Janesville) accounted for 68% of teacher layoffs for the entire state, but contained only 12.8% of Wisconsin students. To date, these three school districts have not utilized any of the fiscal tools available to help manage their budgets. If they did, they could save tens of millions of dollars.

Last week, after looking at the facts, the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) had a change of heart and asked the Legislature for the ability to explore implementing some of the budget reforms I signed into law last year. Specifically MTEA asked the legislature to pass legislation that would enable them to renegotiate their contract and ask their members to contribute a little bit more toward their pensions and healthcare in order to save jobs. Allowing the MTEA to open up their contract would enable the District to capture the savings that districts and local governments across the state were able to realize after the passage of Act 10.

I stand with MPS and MTEA in their efforts to avoid teacher layoffs and improve education, which is exactly why I will sign this legislation into law.

Unfortunately, union bosses from Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, and Racine wrote MTEA president Bob Peterson a letter and said, “Allowing Governor Walker to make such a claim (a victory of his policy) just before the election will prove detrimental to recalling him.”
The union bosses’ use of Wisconsin school children as political pawns is shameful and has caused me to reaffirm my commitment to stand behind the decisions like the one made by MTEA President Bob Peterson. In this instance he is putting school children before politics and he should receive credit for standing up for what is right.

In support of Milwaukee school children, I penned a letter to the union bosses, which you can read here. 

The union bosses’ letter came on the heels of the mining vote, where 17 state Senators put politics before people and before jobs. Through mining reform legislation, the state had the opportunity to see thousands of jobs created along with a $1.5 billion private investment. Private sector unions strongly supported the legislation and the creation of family supporting jobs. In an effort to find compromise, more than 20 changes were made to the legislation to try and bring at least one job-supporting Democrat on board. Despite the support of private sector unions and repeated attempts at compromise, Democrats put politics before people and voted against reasonable reform and against jobs.

Not too long ago, I spent 18 months interviewing for the job of Governor and pledged to put the power back in the hands of the people again, instead of where it had been previously—in government. When these union bosses are ready to put the best interests of our students and of our hard-working taxpayers ahead of politics, I will be there with them. I will be there, just as I was with Milwaukee.



Historic 2011-12 Legislative Session



The Legislature should be commended for its work during the historic 2011-2012 session. Over the course of a year and a half plus two special sessions, major pieces of legislation to encourage job creation were signed into law. Government operations were reformed, taxpayers were protected, substantial education reforms advanced, and healthcare was improved. Most importantly, over the course of the session, we eliminated a $3.6 billion deficit and paid off hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid bills leftover from the previous administration.
I want to thank members of the Legislature for their work during the past year and three months.
The historic effort began back in January 2011 when I called a special session to Open Wisconsin for Business. The special session included legislation to transform the Department of Commerce into the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, eliminate the state tax on Health Savings Accounts, enact nationally recognized frivolous lawsuit reform, expand opportunities for small business growth, and reform the state’s cumbersome regulatory system.

The Legislature also passed one of the most significant pieces of government reform legislation in the nation. It is estimated that Act 10 has saved the state, local governments and school districts nearly $1 billion. These savings allowed property tax payers to save millions of dollars while services and public sector jobs were saved. The legislation also allowed government to make personnel decisions based on merit, not just seniority, and it opened the door for ideas like performance-based pay schedules that will improve our schools and local governments. It also gave government the flexibility to shop around for the best health insurance deals. Act 10 also helped put an end to overtime abuses that cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

The legislature also passed bills requiring photo ID at the polls and restoring the intent behind truth-in-sentencing legislation.

During the 2011-12 Session, the Legislature delivered a budget bill to my desk that balanced a $3.6 billion deficit, eliminated the structural deficit, passed a budget that was rated by Moody’s as “credit positive," and paid off over $800 million in debt left over by the last administration. By working with the Legislature we were able to invest $1.2 billion in new state taxpayer spending into Medicaid related programs. The budget also included additional funding to prevent children from becoming victims of internet crimes.

The Legislature passed the bills I called for in the Back to Work Wisconsin special session call and delivered on my Wisconsin Working package.

The legislative session also included the passage of major education reform bills, which include provisions to implement the recommendations of the Read to Lead Task Force and the Educator Effectiveness Design Team.

The Legislature addressed major problems that were facing our state, made difficult decisions, and ultimately laid the foundation for a bright Wisconsin future. Because of their hard work our children and grandchildren will not be saddled with debt from our generation.






Just Ask the Governor: Part IX


Each e-update I will answer a question submitted by a recipient of the previous e-update or from someone who contacts my office directly.


Question: My mother is on a fixed income with limited financial resources. She receives assistance from the BadgerCare program. What changes if any do you foresee for this program?


Answer: One of my top priorities is to continue state taxpayer support for BadgerCare and programs like it, so our state can continue to provide medical assistance to those truly in need. The budget I signed into law last year invested $1.2 billion more in state taxpayer money for medical assistance related programs than the previous budget, which includes programs like BadgerCare. Even after putting nearly every new state tax dollar into the program we still fell short and the budget wasn’t balanced.


In order to ensure that this vital program remains fiscally sustainable long into the future, a few potential changes I am exploring to the program include: making sure BadgerCare Plus recipients are Wisconsin residents, not enrolling people in a taxpayer funded program if they have access to affordable health care coverage through their employer, and not allowing someone to stay on the program for a month after they become ineligible. We are also asking some adults to contribute modest premiums, which are more in line with what our neighbors with private insurance coverage pay.


We had challenges facing BadgerCare and other programs like it, but we made difficult decisions that prioritized providing coverage to as many people as possible over making drastic cuts to benefits or cutting people from the program entirely. We are simply asking those who are financially able, to contribute a little bit toward their healthcare premiums, so we can continue to provide assistance to those who have no other options for healthcare.


One of my top priorities is to continue state taxpayer support for BadgerCare and programs like it, so we can continue to provide medical assistance to those truly in need.






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



Sincerely,


Governor Scott Walker