MADISON (WITI) -- On Monday, January 5th, Gov. Scott Walker will be sworn in for his second term in office. FOX6's Mike Lowe sat down with the state's chief executive to discuss a pressing issue in Milwaukee -- violence and a potential response from lawmakers. The following is a transcript of some of their conversation:
Mike Lowe: "As I'm sure you're aware, we had another child shot in Milwaukee, that makes 13 -- or 12 children under 13 -- who have been shot this year, three of them have died. From your perspective, what is the state's responsibility to help Milwaukee with this problem?"
Gov. Walker: "A number of things. I think helping to try to improve the overall economy. That's why we have our Transform Milwaukee project. As much as we're trying to improve the prosperity in those neighborhoods, so more people are working and are able to care for themselves and for others, we're hoping that can discourage some of the criminal problems in areas like we've seen in the city of Milwaukee -- but also working directly when it comes to public safety in the city of Milwaukee, when it comes to the Milwaukee Police Department on things like the Shot Spotter program."
Lowe: "But Chief Flynn and Mayor Barrett have asked you for something very specific, and that is legislation that would say, if you've been convicted of a misdemeanor three times in the last five years, you can't own a gun. Right now you're allowed to do that. And what they're saying is these are people committing felonies and plea bargaining them down to misdemeanors, so you've got felons running around with guns. Is that something you'd be willing to consider?"
Walker: "Sure. The more things we can do to get illegal guns out of the hands of criminals , the better. Part of it, too, goes back to the district attorney's office, where right now, without a law change, they have the ability -- if they view gun violence to be a problem -- to charge, as other counties do across the state of Wisconsin. In many counties people will go in for an extended amount of time to the prison system. For whatever variety of reasons that has not happened in Milwaukee County."
Lowe: "What is your view of the ongoing tension we see across the country and in Milwaukee, between the African-American community and the police departments?"
Walker: "There's got to be a balance. With these shootings we just talked about a moment ago, some of the same people who are upset about the one incident, are looking for the same law enforcement officials to help assist and protect young people like these kids who were shot at. There's got be a healthy balance. There's got to be a renewed sense of trust."
Governor Walker also addressed some of his top priorities for his second term.
Lowe: "Is education your top priority for the second term?"
Walker: "Yeah -- I think education -- not just K-12 -- but I would expand that to say to me it's K-16 and beyond -- meaning not only kids from kindergarten to the time they graduate high school. I want to make sure they get the skills they need, be it at technical college, an apprenticeship program, or a work training program.
Lowe: "School accountability is likely to be the first thing brought up by the new Legislature. What do you want in that bill?"
Walker: "What I want for all schools that get public money -- charter, choice schools -- I want parents to be able to check and see, how well does my son or daughter's school do, be it report cards, etc. I want to give the public, and every parent in this state as much objective information as possible as to how well their kids are doing or not doing."
Lowe: "The research seems to suggest that the achievement gap between kids in choice schools, or voucher schools, is no different, so what do you think the purpose of the school voucher program is?"
Walker: "It's going to help not only in those voucher schools, but in those public schools as well, and one of the reasons I go to the heart of accountability for all schools: there's a pretty big gap between some of the top choice schools and some of the others where I think if parents knew they might opt not to send their son or daughter to that school, so you've got a pretty big spectrum. To me the ultimate goal of parental school choice, is put the parents in charge."
Lowe: "So you're framing this as a parental choice issue. I wanted to read you a quote from Luther Olson, a moderate Republican. He said, "the question is, what is the purpose of this program? Is it a program to help poor kids get out of public schools or is it a program to pay for the tuition of kids who are already in private schools?"
Walker: "To me, I want a system if there's going to be any expansion -- our intention was to give parents a choice if their kids were in a failing school to go to another school. It's not to pay the tuition of kids in private schools in the state of Wisconsin."
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