Lawmakers react to State of the State

Kewaunee County’s representatives in the state Assembly, as might be expected, reacted favorably to Gov. Scott Walker’s State of the State address Tuesday.

Rep. Joel Kitchens

“After listening to Governor Walker give his address, I am proud of the state of our state and enthusiastic about its future,” said state Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, about his fellow Republican leader. “Wisconsin continues to maintain a strong financial foothold while our economy and jobs climate continues to improve. In the last six years we have decreased taxes by nearly $5 billion, putting taxpayer money back in to taxpayer pockets. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate also continues to decline, well below the national average. It is evident that our reforms are working. With that said, there is still much for us to do to make the lives of Wisconsin taxpayers better. Freeing individuals from regulatory burden and making government as efficient and effective as possible remains crucial.

“As the session begins, I look forward to leading the charge on modernizing the K-12 funding formula. This is my top priority heading into this session. For 15 years I served as a member of school board where I dealt with a variety of issues facing teachers, parents and students. In addition to chairing the Children and Families committee, I will continue to serve as the vice chair of the important Committee on Education. I know that my real-life experience and expertise will serve these committees well. I feel honored and privileged to be given another opportunity to serve the people of the 1st Assembly District. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate to continue moving Wisconsin forward.”

State Sen. Frank Lasee, R-Bellevue, also praised the governor’s speech.

Sen. Frank Lasee

“Governor Walker put forth an ambitious conservative agenda during his 2017 State of the State address,” Lasee said. “Throughout the past six years Governor Walker and Republican legislators have worked together cutting unemployment in half, creating thousands of jobs, slashing taxes and runaway government spending. I look forward to continuing the Legislature’s work with Governor Walker in the fight for increased personal freedoms, smaller government, and free-market principles.”

Leaders on the other side of the aisle were more skeptical.

“It’s no secret, Wisconsin families are struggling and our middle class is shrinking. The majority of residents continue to say our state is headed in the wrong direction,” said Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Schilling, D-La Crosse. “It’s time for Republican politicians to take off the blinders and focus on helping working families – not just the wealthiest one percent.”

“Six years ago, Gov. Walker spoke before an audience in the Assembly chamber and made a lot of promises,” added Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Madison. “He said Wisconsin would lead the economic recovery. He said we would stop kicking the can down the road on funding transportation. He said we can’t rely on short-term fixes, and we can’t borrow excessively anymore.

“Yet here we are, as the governor begins his seventh year and delivers the State of the State, we have a $700 million budget deficit, an economy that is lagging significantly behind the rest of the nation, the third-worst roads and the most diminished middle class in the nation,” Barca said.