Health care and education were the highlights, of Governor Jim Doyle's State of the State address. There were applause lines aplenty, as when Doyle proposed an effort to make Wisconsin "America's health care leader," with BadgerCare Plus as the cornerstone. Through his proposed BadgerCare Plus initiative, Doyle would offer every Wisconsin family the opportunity to buy health coverage for their kids. He'd also offer BadgerCare to more working people who don't have kids, simplify and streamline the eligibility process for BadgerCare and Medical Assistance, and create a purchasing pool to help businesses afford catastrophic health coverage for employees. Doyle challenged lawmakers to achieve access to health care coverage for at least ninety eight percent of Wisconsinites.
Closely linked to health care in Doyle's vision for the state is combating tobacco use, and Doyle reiterated his controversial calls for a hefty cigarette tax increase, and a statewide smoking ban.
On education, Doyle pledged to make the Wisconsin Covenant, guaranteed admission to UW schools for kids who meet academic standards, a reality for the state's Eighth graders. Doyle also proposed $225 million in new investment in the UW, to produce more college graduates, especially engineers, scientists and nurses, along with in more research and support for innovation. The biggest applause line of the evening came when Doyle introduced Wisconsin Army National Guard Specialist Ray Hubbard, a wounded Iraq War veteran. Doyle noted that this fall Hubbard will begin classes at UW-Whitewater, thanks to the state's veterans education plan which lawmakers passed last session.