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Reality Check: Looking Back At Walker's 2011 State Of State Address

Published On: Jan 23 2012 10:17:05 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 23 2012 10:27:32 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

Gov. Scott Walker is set to give his second State of the State address on Wednesday night.

The address, in front of a joint session of the state Legislature, is the chance for the governor to outline his priorities. As the recall continues, the governor is expected to focus on how his controversial reforms have affected the state's finances.

Those same reforms weren't fully featured in last year's speech. WISC-TV took a look back at the address in a "Reality Check."

In his first State of the State address, Walker laid out a grim picture of state finances.

"Bill collectors are waiting on the doorsteps of our state Capitol," said Walker in the address on Feb. 1, 2011.

He made a commitment to fixing the state's finances, saying he would pay back some $60 million to Minnesota for tax reciprocity, as well as $200 million taken from the patient's compensation fund.

It's true that both of those debts were paid back not long after the new fiscal year started in July. But the governor said in his speech that changes needed to be made to find these funds.

"I hope that our state employees feel as if they've been treated fairly over the years, but like all of us, they should recognize that we are in difficult economic and fiscal times," said Walker.

The governor did say that he would ask public employees to pay 5 percent to their pension and 12 percent to their health care costs. What he did not say was how he would arrive at that savings by taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public employees.

In fact, the governor laid out little of what would come in a budget repair bill that rocked the state or some of the controversial legislation that would follow. Instead, in the February address he talked further about how he needed to reduce government regulations to create jobs.

"It won't be easy, but the past 30 days have shown that we are ready to turn this state around," said Walker.

Four separate times in the speech, the governor spoke of becoming a national leader in fiscal reform, and he has spoken nationally about the changes he championed. The tone in his speech this year, with the governor facing recall because of that legislation, is likely to try to make the point that his mission was accomplished.

By the time the governor gave his State of the State address in 2011, both houses of the Legislature had already been in special session. This year, only the Senate has been in session since the beginning of January. The Senate will again take up bills Tuesday, and the Assembly will be on the floor on Thursday.

The State of the State will be held Wednesday night, and people will be able to watch the speech at 7 p.m. on TVW cable channel 14 or digital 3-2. The speech will also be streamed live on Channel3000.com.

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