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Walker Paints Rosy Picture During 'State of the State'
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/11/2017

Despite the ongoing battle between Scott Walker and members of the Legislature over transportation funding, the GOP governor says Wisconsin is in pretty good shape financially. In his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, Walker said there are more people working in the state than in any other time in history; and the state ended its last fiscal year with a budget surplus.

"Our rainy day fund is 165 times bigger now than it was when we first took office... and Wisconsin has the fourth lowest overall long-term debt obligation of any state in the country," Walker said in his speech to lawmakers. "Getting our finances under control allows us to reduce the burden on the hard-working taxpayers. I am proud to report that, since taking office, we've cut taxes by more than $4.7 billion. That means a cumulative income tax reduction of $1,159 for a typical family."

He also touted his record on cutting property taxes. Since taking office, Walker claims the cumulative reduction on the average homeowner's tax bill is $426.

"Property taxes, as a percentage of our personal income in this state, are the lowest they've been since the end of World War II," he said.

The governor also spent some time talking about health care in the Badger State. Looking back, he says he had no regrets when he decided to turn down federal Medicaid expansion money from Obamacare.

"What happened in Minnesota this past year suggests we were right," he proclaimed. "Late last year, health insurance premiums there increased by as much as 67 percent. The governor of Minnesota declared, 'The Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable.' And just last week he called on the Legislature to spend $313 million to buy down health insurance premiums, putting Minnesota taxpayers on the hook."

Meanwhile, Walker says his proposed state budget calls for a significant funding increase for public schools, including smaller districts in rural areas. And he is proposing that $35.5 million be invested to expand broadband access through a special grant program.

"My mother was born and raised on a farm. For her parents' generation, electricity changed the way we farm in America," he noted. "Access to broadband is like that today in rural parts of our state. I call on the members of the state legislature to pass our plan as soon as possible to help connect everyone in the state."

Walker didn't specifically talk about any agricultural provisions during his address, but did say that Wisconsin farmers continue to grow and produce some of the best food on the planet. He also praised the state's dairy processors for making some of the best cheese on the market, including the world champion cheese entry at a recent international competition.

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