Read it: Reaction to Gov. Walker’s State of the State address

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday urged Republicans and Democrats to unite to quickly approve a $100-per child tax credit and a host of other election-year priorities, including guaranteeing insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Below is reaction to the governor’s address:

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Pres. and CEO Kurt Bauer

“Wisconsin’s future is bright thanks to the reforms advocated for by WMC and enacted by legislators and Gov. Walker. It is because of these reforms that Wisconsin’s estimated budget surplus grew by nearly $140 million and that a large majority of that money can be returned to the hard-working taxpayers of our state. Gov. Walker’s proposal to create a child tax credit should be quickly adopted by the legislature and signed into law.

Rural Wisconsin is critically important to the future of our state. The unique challenges facing rural parts of our state have long been a topic of WMC’s Future Wisconsin Project. We will continue to work with our partners in business, education and government to find solutions that put our best foot forward. Gov. Walker’s proposal to invest more money in worker training and economic development is a welcomed step to all those who live in small communities all around Wisconsin.

Gov. Walker put forward an ambitious agenda in his State of the State address. We look forward to working with him and legislators as we continue to move Wisconsin forward.”

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin Executive Director Nicole Safar

“We certainly appreciate this sudden interest in health care accessibility, but Gov. Walker’s record has been crystal clear – he has spent his entire career blocking access to affordable health care. It’s no secret that he is nervous about 2018, especially after the Democratic victory in Senate District 10. We are skeptical of his promises and what does not seem like a sincere commitment to the wellbeing of Wisconsinites.

We call on Gov. Walker to get serious about health care access in Wisconsin: accept the federal money available to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin and restore state funding to quality providers like Planned Parenthood, which serves some of the most vulnerable populations in our state. Wisconsin needs a governor who prioritizes the health of women and families and does more than provide lip service during an election year.”

Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee

“Governor Walker’s State of the State address follows a year of political failures for the Repubs and a month of desperate flip-flopping attempt to regain support leading into the 2018 election,” said Brostoff. “His speech reflected this desperation as he tried to distance himself from the Trump-Walker agenda, a platform which ignored the real needs of Wisconsin families and has been rejected by Wisconsinites in the recent special elections.

Now, Walker is stealing Democratic ideas – ideas he previously ignored but now recognizes to be popular – in order to bolster support in his bid for re-election. This includes a tepid reversal on his long campaign against President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). “In addition, the governor has shifted 180° with his stance on the Lincoln Hills youth correctional facility crisis. Six years of reports of sexual assaults, physical and emotional abuse, and other gross mistreatment of both the youth held at Lincoln Hills and the staff working for them were ignored by Walker. While myself and other Dem legislators visited Lincoln Hills and proposed shutting it down in favor of multiple, smaller correctional schools around the state, Walker never made a single visit. Instead, he continued to deny that there were any issues as recently as 2017. Finally, he proposed a plan identical to the Democrats’ for resolving the Lincoln Hills problem.

Most strikingly, Walker is now backing away from his own designs for the state’s future. The Fox Con, Walker’s last ditch campaign move, was recently estimated to cost Wisconsin taxpayers $4.5 billion. This is money that could be put towards public schools, strengthening the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin technical college systems, significant improvements to state healthcare, roadwork, and countless other projects aimed at benefiting Wisconsinites. Instead, the deal, touted under the GOP’s singular message of job creation in a state with one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates (3.4%), will line the pockets of a Taiwanese billionaire while causing untold damage to the state’s wetlands and waterways.

Walker’s weak ideals and lack of values have plagued our state for long enough. The best ideas he’s had as Governor all came in the last month and all from Democrats. Wouldn’t it be more effective if we just cut out the middle man?”

Democratic candidate for governor Andy Gronik

“Gov. Scott Walker must think that Wisconsinites have short-term memories and don’t recall that he’s broken our system by governing only with re-election and his special interest donors in mind. Of course, Wisconsinites will remember Walker’s failures when they go to work at that second, third or fourth job because their wages are so low that one job won’t cut it. They’ll remember his failures the next time they pay hundreds in monthly student loan debt repayments. When they can’t afford healthcare insurance, they’ll remember how Walker never stood up for them. They’ll remember because, after all of Walker’s promises and efforts to drive a wedge between families, friends, and neighbors, their lives just haven’t gotten any better while he’s been, Governor.

Scott Walker and his politics as usual approach are why our government, economy, schools, healthcare system, transportation infrastructure, Internet, criminal justice system and so many other things are broken in Wisconsin.  I’m not a politician, but I am someone who’s spent my entire career working together with people to solve problems and get things on track. I spent 35 years in the real world helping struggling companies who often couldn’t go to a regular bank and borrow money.  I helped companies to solve complex problems so they could access the money they needed to grow and create good-paying jobs. I’m here to work collaboratively with people throughout Wisconsin to find the very best ideas for solving the economic, and social issues dividing our state and I don’t care where these ideas come from as long as they put the interests of people of our state, and the quality of their lives, first.

We’ve seen the failures brought on by seven years of career politician Scott Walker. Politics as usual isn’t working and won’t make life better for everyone in our state. It’s time for a different kind of leadership and fresh new ideas for how we move Wisconsin forward. That’s why I’m here.”

Democratic candidate for governor Mahlon Mitchell

“It’s time for a change in Madison. After eight long years of Scott Walker—eight long years when he has worked to divide and conquer the people of Wisconsin, we are going to turn the page on his failed leadership.

I’m running for governor because we need to get all hands working in this state and build a better future for generations to come. That’s why, unlike Governor Walker, I will work every day to lift up working people by creating better-paying jobs. I will prioritize our greatest commodity – our children – by reinvesting in our schools and making sure our young people have good job opportunities to stay in Wisconsin. And I will make sure that no one in our state is just one illness away from bankruptcy by doing what Walker has refused to do—expanding Medicaid and supporting affordable health care for every Wisconsinite.

Wisconsinites need a governor who puts their interests—not those of big, foreign corporations and personal political aspirations—first. We face a lot of challenges after eight years of Governor Walker, but I’m ready to bring the new leadership we need to address them.”

Democratic candidate for Congress Randy Bryce

“Scott Walker’s flip-flop on Obamacare and SeniorCare in today’s address was a shamelessly transparent attempt to improve his reelection odds. Walker had his wake-up call, and he realized people are overwhelmingly rejecting Paul Ryan’s agenda to give insurance and drug companies more power and patients less. Paul Ryan is going to regret his vote to repeal protections for pre-existing conditions come November.  Wisconsin voters have made clear that they want representatives who will side with working people and seniors over corporations and special interests.”

State Superintendent/candidate for governor Tony Evers

“Scott Walker can’t hide from his record.  His State of the State speech was nothing more than a transparent election-year attempt to rewrite history.

We cannot forget the years of cuts to public education that have forced a million Wisconsinites to raise their own taxes to pay for their schools.  We cannot forget the 6 years Walker knew about Lincoln Hills, refused to even visit the facility and did absolutely nothing about it.   Dozens of kids and staff were assaulted and abused because of his failure to lead.  We cannot forget the fact that Walker refused to expand Medicaid, has cut preventive health care for thousands of Wisconsin women, and strongly supported eliminating the Affordable Care Act, which would kick thousands of Wisconsinites off their insurance, eliminate crucial protections for those with pre-existing conditions and increase health care costs for Wisconsin families.  After 9 years of attacks on the Affordable Care Act, Republicans cannot be trusted to provide real protections to those with pre-existing conditions.

Walker also has clearly not gotten the message about Foxconn.  He is still trying to convince us that this $4 billion-dollar giveaway to a foreign corporation is a good deal.  But everywhere I go in Wisconsin, I continue to be asked by our fellow Wisconsinites, “What about us?” This boondoggle will take billions of dollars away from our schools and roads to hire out-of-state workers, creating an enormous hole in our state budget.  Yet once again, Walker is trying to rewrite history.  Every week, we learn something new about this deal, and Wisconsin voters will not forget.

Walker cannot paper over the damage he’s done to Wisconsin and the stark divisions he’s created in one speech.  Enough is enough.  I will bring our state together and take Wisconsin in a new direction.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester)

“The state of the state is undeniably great. We have a strong economy, a growing budget surplus, excellent schools and one of the best health care systems in the country. We have a great story to tell and I’m glad that Governor Walker took the time to share it during this speech.

I’m hearing growing optimism from people around Racine County and across Wisconsin. People are excited about the future and the many new opportunities ahead. We’re embarking on a transformational period in our state with unprecedented growth. Now is not the time to reverse course. We must continue to make positive reforms to keep Wisconsin open for business and bring even more people into the workforce.

The Ambitious Agenda that Governor Walker outlined sets the right priorities for Wisconsin. Like the Assembly Republicans’ 2018 agenda, it focuses on encouraging economic development, supporting our schools, reforming welfare and promoting healthy families. Together we can take Wisconsin to the next level and bring more prosperity to not only Racine County but also to the entire state.”

Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee)

“It is becoming a moment of desperation for Governor Scott Walker. Today in the Governor’s State of the State Address, he announced a new plan to give a $100 per-child tax credit to be paid out to Wisconsin families, even if the parent has no state income tax liability. This tax credit, which in 2018 will be paid out separately from Wisconsin tax returns, is hoped to create some good will with the voters before they take to the polls this November.

This is not the first time that Governor Walker has recently attempted to purchase his third term. Thanks to the Governor, Wisconsin taxpayers are currently on the hook for $4.5 billion to a foreign company to show that he can bring manufacturing jobs to our state.

What Governor Walker forgets is that Wisconsin still is the worst place in America to raise an African American child. He forgets that Wisconsin still incarcerates more African American men that any other state in the nation and he also forgets that Wisconsin has some of the worst roads in the nation. Also, while this budget may constitute the largest dollar increase in public education, it still has not made up for the cuts that his administration has made over his tenure as Governor. He may have forgotten but Wisconsin residents have not.

Wisconsin deserves better from our Governor.”

Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee)

“In delivering his last state of the state address, Governor Walker continued to project a sudden urgency to transition from seven years of failure into one desperate year where he will attempt to convince Wisconsinites he’s had their best interests in mind all along. Wisconsinites aren’t stupid. They are not suffering from the collective amnesia the governor is counting on.

The way the governor’s time in office will be remembered is clear: attacking the hard-working people of our state, hurting Wisconsin communities by gutting education funding, rigging the Wisconsin economy against everyday people by giving billions of taxpayer dollars and tax cuts to a foreign corporation and the wealthy elite while raising taxes and fees on working families, and leaving his responsibilities as governor behind to embark on a failed run for president where Republican voters nationwide rejected his agenda.

The governor hopes you’ll forget all that, and he’s going to use your time and your money over the next year to try to help you forget. Fearing the end of his political career, he’s issued a “wake up call” that Wisconsinites are rejecting his failed agenda.

He wants you to forget the crisis in youth corrections he caused and ignored for six years.

He wants you to forget he signed off on a plan that will give up to $4.5 billion to a foreign corporation who might end up creating jobs in Wisconsin.

He wants you to forget he signed off on billions in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

He wants you to forget he eliminated the Working Families Tax Credit and cut the Homestead and Earned Income Tax Credits that hard working Wisconsin families counted on to reduce the burden of a tax system that Republicans have rigged against them.

He wants you to forget that the state’s commitment to funding public education still has not returned to the level it was at before his record cuts in the classroom.

He wants you to forget he vetoed additional help for rural school districts faced with mounting transportation costs.

He wants you to forget he turned down nearly $2 billion of our own federal tax dollars to improve our state’s transportation system, expand rural broadband, make sure kids don’t go hungry, and offer healthcare to thousands more Wisconsinites.

We won’t forget.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse)

“Despite Governor Walker’s frantic attempts to improve his public approval ratings in a tough election year, Wisconsin residents will not be fooled. This election year enlightenment has shown that he has failed to deliver on his empty promises of the past and his misguided priorities have taken the state in the wrong direction.

Every time we drive over a pothole or cast a ballot for a school referendum, voters see the underfunding of our roads and local schools. As other states have rebounded from the Great Recession, Republican policies have shrunk Wisconsin’s middle class, shifted more costs onto working families and created an 111,000 jobs deficit.

State cuts to local schools have driven up property taxes and shifted a greater burden onto homeowners. Health care costs continue to rise, and people with pre-existing conditions are at risk of losing coverage through no fault of their own. Our roads are ranked as some of the worst in the nation, and too many communities are going back to graveled roads.

Under Republican leadership, wages remain stagnant, jobs have been outsourced and workers’ rights have been stripped away. Rather than growing our middle class and investing in Wisconsin jobs, Gov. Walker continues to prioritize tax breaks for the wealthy and $4.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies to a foreign corporation, the largest in U.S. history.

Democrats have listened to the families that are burdened with student loan debt, sky-rocketing childcare costs, and costly auto repairs from crumbling roads. By focusing on policies that promote fairness, expand opportunities, and invest in communities, Democrats want to make Wisconsin a place where the next generation wants to live, work, and raise a family.

These are the issues that families and seniors have said they want their leaders to focus on. People want to solve these challenges, and tackle the tough issues. Legislative Democrats believe in the Wisconsin Way Forward and the promise of a better tomorrow.”

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton)

“Access to high-quality, affordable health care has always been a priority for Democrats in the Legislature. Wisconsin taxpayers have now lost over $1 billion dollars to other states like Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota because of Governor Walker’s decision to reject Federal funds designated for Wisconsin. If the Republican Legislature chooses to move ahead with Governor Walker’s re-election proposals, BadgerCare expansion should be a part of that discussion. Once the biggest cheerleader for its repeal, this year, Governor Walker suddenly supports the Affordable Care Act. I am hoping for the people of this state that the Governor’s turnabout is actually supported with policies that maintain the protections in the Affordable Care Act, not weakens them, and brings our much needed revenue back to Wisconsin.”

State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)

“I want to remind people what I said last year in response to Governor Walker’s 2017 State of the State address.

‘Today, Governor Scott Walker spent more time talking about the Green Bay Packers than he did about our juvenile justice scandal, our lead water crisis or Wisconsin’s racial disparities. Wisconsin doesn’t need a cheerleader, we need a trailblazer to solve our state’s problems. Today’s speech was just that, a speech. Words don’t solve problems.’

One year later, we still have a crisis in our juvenile justice system. Lead is still poisoning Wisconsin’s children and families. Wisconsin, once again, ranks last in the nation for racial equity.

Today’s address reflects the same lack of commitment to pressing issues facing Wisconsin residents. For the past six years, Wisconsin’s private sector job creation has lagged behind the national average. Wisconsin continues to rank worst in the nation for business start-up activity, faces a youth exodus, and contains the region’s least educated workforce.

Across the board, Walker has failed on a number of policies and neglected vulnerable populations. Children received historic cuts to K-12 education when Walker first came to office, with funding restored when it’s time to campaign for another term. Walker calls for action on Lincoln Hills, but he has never set foot in any adult or juvenile corrections facility. Apparently, the issue doesn’t warrant a special session like Foxconn or ‘welfare reform’ did. Walker failed to expand Medicaid as 31 other states have done. His recent string of policy announcements right before re-election ring hollow given his track record of words said, and promises broken.

Walker’s failed leadership did not start when he became governor. His failures were laid clear during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive. Today represents the same state of sorry affairs.”

State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills)

“Wisconsin is on a roll, and we can’t stop now.   Our surplus is growing and our unemployment rate is dropping to a record low.  That’s why major employers like HARIBO and Foxconn are picking Wisconsin over other states.  That doesn’t happen without the leadership and vision of Governor Walker and Republicans.

As the Co-Chair of the budget-writing committee, I’m proud that we have worked together to deliver $8 billion in tax cuts since 2011.  Now that we have a growing surplus, it’s time to explore ways to return it to you, the taxpayers, who provided it in the first place.  It’s not our money, it’s yours.

I’m very interested in the Governor’s plan to help Wisconsin’s families with a refundable tax credit.  It has the potential to make a real impact on working families in our state.

We’ve worked with Governor Walker to protect the health care of Wisconsin citizens. I’m glad to see the Governor continuing his mission to protect people from the uncertainty of their health care costs.

Wisconsin will always be a national leader in welfare reform.  I’m excited Governor Walker is continuing that tradition by ensuring adults are well-supported to enter the workforce.

Just eight years ago, unemployment was more than 9%, companies were fleeing, and our finances were a mess.  What a difference eight years under Republican leadership makes.  And we’re just getting started.

Our reforms have worked, and I’m excited to hear the Governor talk about what we can do next.  He laid out an ambitious agenda that will continue to improve our state.  I look forward to working with Governor Walker on the plans he outlined this afternoon.”

State Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield)

“This afternoon Governor Walker laid out an ambitious agenda that is only possible because of the progress we have made over the past seven years. With more people working than ever before, a historically low unemployment rate, and lower property and income taxes, it is clear that we are getting positive things done for the people of Wisconsin.

I am honored to be working side-by-side with Governor Walker to advance bold welfare reforms that will lead to more employment and self-sufficiency. With Wisconsin’s unemployment rate at a record low of 3%, there is a need for more able-bodied adults in the workforce. Our plan will help them gain independence through the dignity of work.

Because of our sound fiscal management and projected surplus, Governor Walker proposed a $100 tax credit for every child under the age of 18 in the state. This plan will make a difference for working families across the state by putting real money back into their pockets and continue our trend of making Wisconsin a more affordable state to live.”

State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)

“Today the legislature gathered once again to hear Governor Walker’s State of the State address. True to form Governor Walker donned his rose-colored glasses and told the state that our lackluster economy, healthcare crisis, underfunded schools, job creation failures, dismantled environmental safeguards, threats to our drinking water, and struggling middle class are not a problem. Like Trump, he is ignoring the facts that reflect the reality our neighbors are facing every day.

Just a few things Governor Walker is running away from:

  • Rejecting the Medicaid expansion for the people of Wisconsin, costing our taxpayers over $700 million
  • Selling out our state’s future to a foreign company, costing taxpayers a staggering $4.5 billion
  • Pushing for the dismantling of our conservation heritage
  • Devastating the ability of our neighborhood schools to educate our children by cutting nearly $1 billion for their futures. Cutting more money from public schools than ever before

On behalf of my neighbors, I will continue to fight for a fair economy that expands opportunities for families and strengthens our community.

I am committed to:

  • Strengthening our neighborhood schools by restoring the over $1 billion in state aid that was cut by Republicans
  • Making child care more affordable and expanding access to paid leave
  • Updating our infrastructure to meet the needs of our current generation
  • Adequately funding lead abatement to stop the poisoning of our children
  • Protecting our environment
  • Legalizing the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana
  • Protecting and promoting Wisconsin born and grown businesses

Despite the smooth talk offered by the governor, Wisconsinites are still stuck cleaning up Walker’s mess of the last seven years. His apparent rush from his record of partisan extremes is a little too late to mediate the damage he has done. Our neighbors are calling out for sensible leadership that will serve the people, not just the wealthy
and well-connected.”

Rep. Cindi Duchow (R-Town of Delafield)

“Governor Walker did a great job tonight with his State of the State speech.  It’s amazing all the things that we have accomplished in the last seven years, and I know we have more great things to come. One of the things I was most excited about was his welfare reform package.

Our state is on the right track with historic low unemployment rate as well as a top ten state for business,” said Rep. Duchow. “Continuing to invest in families, workers, and jobs will allow our state to continue to move Wisconsin forward.  We are getting positive things done for the people of Wisconsin, and I am proud, and excited, to be part of the positive initiatives we will work on this year.”

Republican Party of Wisconsin

“Governor Scott Walker is getting positive things done for hard-working Wisconsin families – the state of our state is historically strong. His reforms have made Wisconsin’s future bright, and the ambitious agenda laid out today will continue to move Wisconsin forward.”

Americans For Prosperity-Wisconsin State Director Eric Bott

“Wisconsin works best when Wisconsin works for everyone. We strongly support Governor Walker’s bold welfare reform plan because welfare reform is key to transforming lives by putting Wisconsinites back on their feet so they can build their own futures and find fulfillment. This legislation rewards good, honest hard work and cracks down on waste, fraud and abuse that robs these programs of resources.

The Walker reform plan will give able-bodied Wisconsinites the tools they need to find employment and succeed, through hands-on job training and job-search resources, yet preserves Medicaid for the elderly, the disabled, and for those who truly need the help. Passing this welfare reform package is common-sense and will benefit Wisconsinites across the Badger State.  More Wisconsinites are finding jobs than ever before, wages are up, and unemployment just tied the all-time lowest rate on record. The time is right to cast aside the failed anti poverty policies of the past and help thousands of Wisconsinites find the dignity and happiness that comes with work. Our base of over 130,000 AFP-WI activists will be working tirelessly to encourage lawmakers to support the “Wisconsin Works for Everyone” package.”