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Local lawmakers respond to State of State

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With a re-election bid 21 months away, Gov. Scott Walker reviewed his accomplishments thus far and promised to "double down" on efforts to improve Wisconsin's job climate as he delivered his State of the State address Tuesday.

While Republican lawmakers who represent Pierce and St. Croix counties in the state legislature were complimentary of the governor's speech, the area's lone Democratic representative advised a wait-and-see reaction.

During the 30-minute message, Walker called 10 out-of-work union members to his side, introducing them by name as "people who really want to work."

As they and eight other union members held up a Wisconsin flag, Walker pointed to the image of a miner to the right of the state seal, to mining tools in the upper right corner of the flag and to the flag's badger--a nickname for the state's early settlers, who were miners.

"If any state can move forward with a way to streamline the process for safe and environmentally sound mining, shouldn't it be the Badger State?" asked the governor.

He said one of the best ways the state can prove it is focused on jobs is "to pass a bill that streamlines the process for safe and environmentally sound mining."

Calling a mine "a lifeline to the people in Northwestern Wisconsin" where employment rates are nearly 12 percent, Walker also said a mine's benefits would be felt throughout the state.

When he was first elected two years ago, said Walker, the state was facing a $3.6 million budget deficit, property taxes had increased 27 percent over the previous decade and unemployment was at 6.8 percent.

For more please read the Jan. 23 print version of the Herald.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.