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January 30, 2015

Walker says he won’t reconsider Kenosha casino decision

WRN photo

WRN photo

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won’t be reconsidering his rejection of a proposed Hard Rock Kenosha casino. That’s despite a request from a bipartisan group of ten lawmakers from southeastern Wisconsin, asking the governor to do just that.

“I had a hundred million reasons I had to say no,” Walker told reporters in Madison on Wednesday. “That would cost us, if I had approved the casino . . . about $100 million right now, and potentially two to three to four times that in the future.”

The lawmakers contend that Walker could rescind his rejection prior to the February 19th deadline by which the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs expected a decision. Walker doesn’t believe that’s possible. “My understanding is, and we’ll again verify that, is it’s like signing a bill. You don’t get to go back and un-sign a bill. Once you’ve notified the Bureau of Indian Affairs if your decision, that’s it.”

Walker rejected the Menominee Tribe’s project last Friday, citing concerns about potential litigation and back-payments the state may owe the Forest County Potawatomi.

GOP lawmakers unveil plan to fight poverty in Milwaukee

Wisconsin State Capitol (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Wisconsin State Capitol (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Two state Republicans unveil an ambitious plan to fight poverty in Milwaukee’s central city.

Under-performing urban public schools would become charter schools, under the package of proposals that seems to follow Governor Scott Walker’s theme of going “big and bold.”

“Yeah, I mean, on one hand they are,” agrees state Representative Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield). “On the other hand,” he says, “It’s amazing they haven’t been done yet. I mean, schools have been failing for decades. They continue to operate without changing the status quo.”

Kooyenga says the status quo isn’t working, so he and Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) are offering special rules and exemptions for inner city neighborhoods and business zones, and strict rules for public schools.

“If somebody says they don’t agree with anything in the package, I think they’re on another planet. There’s a lot of stuff in there everyone can agree on. There’s a lot of stuff in there which I know will bring about some change to the economy in those neighborhoods.”

Among other things, the 25-page plan eliminates corporate income tax for new companies that set up shop in urban zones. There’s a localized right-to-work provision for businesses in those areas, and incentives to groups that help newly-released prisoners avoid committing new crimes.

Kooyenga, Vice-Chair of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, points out 2014 marked the 50-year anniversary of the war on poverty. Since 1964, taxpayers spent over $22 trillion to combat poverty. He says little, if any, progress has been achieved.

State Representative David Bowen hopes to work with Kooyenga and other lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle on this issue.

Wisconsin lawmakers argue over EPA carbon emission targets

epaPartisan positions held the day at a Capitol hearing on the Obama administration’s proposed carbon emission limits. It was an informational hearing – there’s no legislation being considered to counter new EPA new standards, although Governor Scott Walker’s Department of Justice is preparing a lawsuit.

Madison Democrat, Representative Melissa Sargent argues the new limits, aimed at reduction of greenhouse gasses, will address real concerns. “I’m hearing concern about the health of the people in our state, asthma in children and older people in astonishing numbers. I’m concerned about our environment and our climate,” Sargent said.

“Bascially what we have here is an unfunded mandate from the federal government, the Obama adminstration, saying that we need to do these things, which is going to cost anywhere between $3 billion to $13 billion here in the state of Wisconsin to achieve those goals,” said state Senator Rick Gudex, a Fond du Lac Republican. “One of the intended consequences of this unfunded mandate is that the ratepayers are going to pay more money. One of the unintended consequences is that we could in a way stifle our economy.”

The Environmental Protection Agency announced carbon dioxide emissions targets for all 50 states last year, and Wisconsin would be expected to reduce emissions by more than 30 percent in just 15 years. “The idea that we’re going to make transformative changes to our energy generation and distribution system in Wisconsin in such a short time frame, I think underscores how ill-suited the Clean Air Act is as a vehicle to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” said Scott Manley with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

Walker announced in his state of the state address that he will work with Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel to prepare a lawsuit against the federal government over the EPA carbon emission reduction targets.

Walker deflects attention of newly-formed group from himself, says it’s about ideas

Governor Scott Walker delivers his fifth state of the state address. 1/1315 (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Governor Scott Walker delivers his fifth state of the state address.  (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Governor Scott Walker said unlike other prospective candidates out there who have political action committees (PACs) with the “intention of promoting themselves,” his tax-exempt committee, Our American Revival, is “all about ideas.”

Speaking in Racine Wednesday morning, Walker said the committee is about pushing ideas that build the foundation for transferring powers away from the federal government and back to the states. He said the answers to the problems that ail the country are not going to come out of Washington DC or its leaders. They’ll come from the states and ultimately, he says, from the people.

“President Reagan said it well in his first inaugural address. We should all remember the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.”

The governor said forming this committee allows him to get an idea of what the people think. “Part of setting a committee up like this is to talk about the ideas that I think that will help transform America, put the power back in the hands of the American people.” He said he wants to see whether that’s an idea that resonates with others.

AUDIOWalker said he worries about the future of this country. 1:12

Walker said he worries about the future of America, but is also optimistic. He pointed to various states with “common sense conservative leadership” that he said have been able to turn things around. He believes the same can be true for the federal government. Walker said the country needs fresh leadership with big bold ideas and the courage to act on them — and that leadership has to come from outside Washington. The governor wouldn’t say definitively that he’s running for president, but it sure sounds like it. “I don’t see anybody else out there who meets each of those three criteria.”

Walker announced the formation of a tax-exempt group on Tuesday that would raise and spend funds to increase his national profile and help deliver a message. He expects to make a formal decision about a presidential candidacy within a few months.

Thanks to WRJN for contributing to this story.

Lawmakers ask Walker to reconsider Kenosha casino decision

Artist's rendering of the Kenosha casino project.

Artist’s rendering of the Kenosha casino project.

A bipartisan group of southeastern Wisconsin lawmakers is asking Governor Scott Walker to take another look at his decision to reject a proposed Kenosha casino.

Walker rejected the Menominee Tribe’s project last Friday, citing concerns about potential litigation and back-payments the state may owe the Forest County Potawatomi. However, State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) believes the Menominee did all they could to protect the state from those issues, and argues that was not taken into account in the report the governor based his decision on. “It would seem to me that they’ve addressed that with their willingness to indemnify the state against that through bonding and whatever means are necessary,” Wanggaard argues.

The Racine Republican and nine other southeastern Wisconsin lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) sent a letter to Governor Walker this week, asking him to take another look at the proposal. Wanggaard says “we’re just asking him to take one more look at it…if his decision is no, then it’s no. We have to live with that and people will just have to get past that.”

Wanggaard says his office has been inundated with calls and emails since the decision came down, almost a month before the February 19th deadline set by federal officials. He says his constituents are upset about the loss of jobs and revenue the casino could have brought to the region.