Tuesday, February 1, 2011
One-Hundredth Regular Session
The Senate met.
The Senate was called to order by President Ellis.
The roll was called, disclosing the presence of a quorum.
Pursuant to Senate Rule 15
, the official attendance for session was:
Senators S. Coggs, Cowles, T. Cullen, Darling, Ellis, Erpenbach, S. Fitzgerald, Galloway, Grothman, Hansen, Harsdorf, Holperin, Hopper, Jauch, Kapanke, Kedzie, C. Larson, Lasee, Lassa, Lazich, Leibham, Miller, Moulton, Olsen, Risser, Schultz, Taylor, Vinehout, Vukmir, Wanggaard and Zipperer - 31.
Absent with leave - Senator Wirch - 1.
Absent - Senator Carpenter - 1.
Senator Miller, with unanimous consent, asked that Senator Wirch be granted a leave of absence for today's session.
President Ellis appointed Senators Vukmir and Holperin to escort his excellency, the Governor, to the Joint Covention.
President Ellis, with unanimous consent, asked that the Senate recess for the purpose of awaiting the Governor's State of the State Address in Joint Convention in the Assembly Chambers at 7:00 P.M.
Senator S. Fitzgerald, with unanimous consent, asked that the Senate adjourn until Wednesday, February 2, 2011 upon the rising of the Joint Convention.
The Senate stood recessed.
The Senate proceeded in a body to the Assembly Chamber to meet in Joint Convention to receive the State of the State Message.
Senate President Ellis in the chair.
The Committee to wait upon the Governor appeared with his excellency, Governor Scott Walker, who delivered his message as follows:
"Speaker Fitzgerald, Speaker Pro Tem Kramer, President Ellis, Majority Leader Fitzgerald, Minority Leader Miller, Minority Leader Barca, Supreme Court Justices, Constitutional Officers, tribal leaders, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, members of the Legislature, and most importantly, fellow citizens of Wisconsin, it is an honor to be with you tonight to report on the state of our state.
Yesterday, Trooper Gary Markowski was struck by a vehicle in the line of duty and seriously injured. I spoke to his wife this afternoon, and am grateful to report that tonight he is resting in the hospital on his way to recovery. Let us pause for a moment to offer our thoughts and prayers to the Markowski family, and all those who serve to keep us safe.
In the gallery, we have the First Lady of the Great State of Wisconsin, my wife, Tonette Walker and our sons Matt and Alex, my parents Llew and Pat Walker and my brother and sister-in-law David and Maria Walker. Next to them is General Donald Dunbar and several members of the Wisconsin National Guard.
General Dunbar, we cannot thank you and the brave men and women from Wisconsin who wear our nations uniform enough. Not only do you defend our nation abroad, but you work on the frontlines during our state's natural challenges, like tonight's storm. Even before I declared a state of emergency you were ready to assist Wisconsin citizens and now you are mobilized to help our state respond.
To you, your families and to all of our other veterans, we say a hearty thank you.
Every year the Governor of Wisconsin comes before this body to report on the state of the state. This year the state of the state is - well - pumped up about our Packers.
I've asked a representative of the Packers to be with us live from Arlington tonight, so that we can wish them well.
We're honored that Packers President Mark Murphy could be with us tonight from Texas.
Mark, thank you for taking the time to join us, I know you're busy preparing for the big game against the Steelers, so we won't keep you long. Congratulations on making it to the Super Bowl, what a tremendous victory you had on the road two weeks ago.
Mark, on behalf of the state of Wisconsin, I want you to know that the entire state is rooting for you and we wish you the best of luck. Win or lose we're proud of you.
Here in Wisconsin, we don't need a seating chart to bring Republicans and Democrats together - all we need are the Green Bay Packers.
In fact, we are sitting under evidence of that right now. Thanks to the help of Senators Risser and Hansen, we worked together to illuminate the dome of this Capitol tonight with green and gold lights.
Over the course of this season, our pride for the Green Bay Packers has brought this state together. I believe we need that same unity to get Wisconsin working again.
Tonight, I will layout a clear picture of the state of our state. We will be realistic about the challenges we face while optimistic about our solutions.
First, let me be clear: we have an economic and fiscal crisis in this state that demands our immediate attention. The solutions we offer must be designed to address both job creation and our budget problems.
Wisconsin's once strong economy is in need of repair. Too many of our people are hurting and too many of our employers are struggling.
The unemployment rate in December dropped to 7.5% but that is still 3 points worse than it was just three years ago at this time. We must do better.
As I travel the state, I hear too many stories of families struggling to put food on the table; I see too many young people who can't find a job having to move in with their parents; and I learn of too many small businesses who are forced to layoff workers because of the economy.
Coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Success demands singleness of purpose." We are defining success for this administration by our ability to shape an environment where 250,000 jobs are created. Every action of our administration should be looked at through the lens of job creation.
That is why - moments after taking the oath of office as your Governor - I called a special session of the Legislature to focus on jobs. Already, we are sending a clear message that Wisconsin is open for business!
That singleness of purpose is why we hit the ground running on our very first day and why by our second day we had already introduced legislation to improve Wisconsin's economic environment.
All told, we introduced 8 pieces of legislation to instill in our state an environment that encourages job creation, and to send the message to employers that now is the time to start hiring.
We challenged the Legislature to move swiftly and decisively on our Jobs Plan. Speaker Fitzgerald, Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald, Senator Darling, and Representative Vos, you and your fellow legislators, like Senator Cullen, accepted that challenge - in many cases with bi-partisan support. On behalf of the people of Wisconsin, I say thank you.
Creating jobs shouldn't be a partisan issue. These are not Republican or Democrat jobs, these are Wisconsin jobs.
In less than 30 days, I have already signed four pieces of legislation into law that will help the private sector create jobs. And on my desk is another bill giving tax relief to small businesses that I intend to sign on Friday.
The first act I signed as governor eliminated the taxes on health savings accounts, making health care more affordable for small business owners, blue-collar workers and family farmers. I want to thank Representatives Kaufert, Ziegelbauer and Stone and Senators Darling, Olsen and Vukmir for their leadership on HSAs. This change was a long time coming for Wisconsin and brings us into line with the rest of the nation.
Our second act reduced frivolous lawsuits in Wisconsin. The litigation environment in a state is one of the key drivers for business and unfortunately we were once known as "Alabama North" because of our poor lawsuit climate.
Now, we've turned the page on lawsuit reform and offer one more sign that Wisconsin is open for business.
Thanks to Senator Zipperer and Representative Jim Ott for their leadership on this important issue.