Governor Scott Walker says the state of Wisconsin is good — but more people could be working. In his sixth annual State of the State address Tuesday night, the Republican Governor said the state has made progress on his promise that everyone who wants a job will be able to find one.
“The most recent unemployment rate in our state is the lowest it has been since March of 2001,” Walker said, adding that late last year, Wisconsin saw the largest monthly jobs gain since April of 1992.
“While so many in the media seem to obsess with negative stories, these facts from the Federal Department of Labor, show that more people were working during this past year than at any time in the last two decades,” Walker said.
Still, the governor asserted that there continue to be more job openings than there are qualified candidates to fill them. “One of the common things I hear from employers all across the state, is that they have job openings, but that they cannot find enough qualified workers to fill these positions. That’s why we’ve invested millions more into worker training programs. Still, we need more people in the workforce. We cannot afford to have anyone on the sidelines.”
Walker touched on one of his familiar themes in his address — helping people break free of government dependency. “Think about it — no one signs a high school yearbook saying ‘good luck becoming dependent on the government,'” he said. “Instead, we aspire to be able to support ourselves and our families, and to provide a good like for future generations. That’s why our focus in state government is simple: everyone who wants a job can find a job.”
Touts property tax relief
Walker highlighted property tax relief in Wisconsin since he took office. “Property taxes on a median-valued home in Wisconsin were $116 lower this past year than they were in 2010. That’s real money and real savings that’s staying the pockets of Wisconsinites,” Walker said. “Over the past five years, a homeowner of a median-valued home saved $1,227 from where property taxes were headed versus how they’ve gone down under Governor Walker’s reforms between 2010 and 2015.”
Investing in education
Walker announced his commitment to invest $3 million in dual enrollment program to develop Wisconsin’s workforce, on top of the $4.6 million already invested. “To prepare Wisconsin’s students for a family-supporting job in the future, we must focus on providing them with a quality education today,” Walker said.
The governor also pledged that any further savings from government reforms will be invested in education.
Walker highlighted his college affordability legislative package which he introduced around the state last week, and urged bipartisan support for its passage. He also discussed working with UW System President Ray Cross to promote programs that would allow students to graduate on time, including exploring a three-year degree option. Walker said such a three-year degree option would not only reduce the cost of higher education, it would also help get students into the workforce more quickly.
Walker said Wisconsin’s average annual veteran unemployment rate is 3.6 percent. The governor said that’s an entire percent lower than the national average, and pledged to work to lower the number even further. He highlighted a number of initiatives already in place to support returning veterans efforts to reenter the workforce.
Looking for 2020 Vision
Walker said he wants to hear from a diverse mix of people, about what makes Wisconsin great, where the state should be in the next two decades, and how to measure success. Walker said he intends to travel across Wisconsin this year to hold listening sessions.