Lawmakers react to Gov. Walker's State of the State Address

MADISON (WLUK) -- In his seventh State of the State Address, Governor Walker laid out his priorities for the upcoming year. He touched on issues facing the workforce, the transportation budget, and improving education.

Walker explained to state lawmakers that his top priority this year is helping Wisconsin workers.

"Our biggest challenge is not creating jobs, but finding people to fill them,” Walker said during his speech.

Republican state lawmakers agreed, saying there are plenty of jobs, but not enough people to fill them.

“Certainly the focus on the workforce is very appropriate, that is going to be an ongoing struggle with really have issue with not having enough replacement population for those who are leaving the workforce to retire,” said State Representative Andre Jacque, R-De Pere.

“We have so many positions open in the Fox Cities and in the state of Wisconsin, so I loved hearing about the Governor’s focus in that area, and I'm ready to help support that,” explained Republican State Representative Mike Rohrkaste, of Neenah.

However, state Democrats don’t agree, saying more jobs need to be created.

"Our job growth rate has been half the national average, so we've got a ways to go because we're behind,” said State Representative Gordon Hintz, D- Oshkosh.

“We still have a job deficit in the state of Wisconsin, we have not recovered all those jobs that were lost in the great recession. So I think he is has prematurely spiked the football before he got in the end zone,” explained Democratic State Representative Eric Genrich of Green Bay.

During his speech Walker also talked about providing local governments with more money for transportation projects. Currently the state is facing a $1 billion shortfall to the transportation budget, something Democratic and Republican lawmakers say needs to be addressed.

"Our bridges are failing, so I think we're going to be spending more money in transportation and without raising the taxes, I think that is exciting,” said Republican State Representative Paul Tittl of Manitowoc.

“We just don't have enough money, so we have to find some revenue to put in there or we will see delays in projects like the 10/441/41 in the Fox Valley, " explained State Representative Amanda Stuck, D- Appleton.

In his speech, Walker also said the UW tuition freeze was a good thing.

"A typical student saves more than $6,300 over four years when compared to the trend before the freeze,” said Walker.

Democratic State Senator Dave Hansen said while Walker’s speech was upbeat, it didn’t have many details.

“He's promising a lot; the picture he's painting rosy, is not that rosy, " said Hansen.

As for the costs of the projects, Governor Walker is expected to lay out more information in his budget address next month.

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