First Lady Tonette Walker

Tonette Walker: Governor eager to share success

By Tonette Walker
Monday, December 3, 2012

After the election in June, former first lady Nancy Reagan invited my husband to speak at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. She wanted Scott to share how Wisconsin is moving forward.

So on Nov. 16, I was honored to join him at the library, where he told the audience about the success of Wisconsin’s economic, fiscal and governmental reforms. I, for one, was extremely proud of him and what he had to share in that speech.

First, he explained that our state had lost more than 100,000 jobs from 2008 to 2010 and that the unemployment rate peaked over 9 percent during that time. He told the crowd that a survey of employers in 2010 showed that only 10 percent thought Wisconsin was headed in the right direction.

Scott then went on to talk about how the reforms enacted in 2011 helped improve the economy in our state. After years of losing jobs, there is now job growth, the unemployment rate is below 7 percent, and the same survey of employers shows that 94 percent now believe Wisconsin is headed in the right direction.

Second, Scott talked about how he inherited a $3.6 billion budget deficit and turned it into a surplus — setting aside money for the rainy day fund in two consecutive years. He talked about how he avoided the tax increases, massive layoffs and Medicaid cuts used in other states to balance the budget. Instead, he used long-term structural reforms that balanced the budget for years to come.

Third, Scott spoke about how our reforms allowed schools and local governments to hire and fire based on merit, and pay based on performance. This means we can put the best and the brightest in our schools and local governments — and we can keep them there.

After sharing the positive news of our successes in Wisconsin, Scott took questions from the crowd. One came from a woman who identified herself as being from Wauwatosa, and she asked what Scott was going to do in the coming year. Scott repeated the same items he had laid out a week earlier at the annual Governor’s Small Business Summit in La Crosse and in the Capitol.

He spoke of his interest in pursuing income tax relief for middle class taxpayers and small business owners. He spoke of his interest in helping employers find people with the skills needed for the jobs open today in health care, manufacturing and information technology. And he spoke of connecting support for education and higher education to performance, and to targeting areas of great need in the workforce.

These are ideas he mentioned at the summit in La Crosse, in the Capitol with lawmakers and that several members of his cabinet have talked about for months.

I am so proud of Scott, and like I said earlier, I was proud of his speech at the Reagan Presidential Library. Scott is so excited about the good work being done in Wisconsin, and loves to share it with people all over the country and around the world. He is optimistic about our future and he has a great plan to ensure even more prosperity and freedom for all of the people of Wisconsin.

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