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Milwaukee Democratic Legislator Cites Omissions in Walker's State of the State

Rep. LaTonya Johnson, Facebook

Rep. LaTonya Johnson wished Gov. Walker had mentioned challenges the state faces - gun violence, black male unemployment and expensive health care.

As Governor Walker phrased it, in Tuesday night's State of the State address, "The Wisconsin Comeback is working." He says his first term brought down the state’s unemployment rate fall from over nine percent to 5.2% and the eased taxes.

“Budget reforms over the past four years reduced the burden on the hardworking taxpayers of this state by two billion dollars, and we will continue to reduce that burden, every year I am in office,” Walker said.

Walker did not offer specifics about how he intends to make state government more efficient or plug an anticipated deficit in the next budget, outside of consolidating a few state agencies. He’ll provide details next month, in his budget.

The governor aimed a few comments at the federal government – saying it, like Wisconsin, should live within taxpayers’ means and reduce its reach. Toward that end, Walker wants Wisconsin to sue Washington, over the clean energy rules it’s enacting.

“These proposals could have a devastating impact on Wisconsin because we are so heavily dependent on manufacturing. According to recent reports, we could lose tens of thousands of jobs in our region and the rate payers could see an increase of up to 29%. We will fight to protect Wisconsin’s hard-working families,” Walker said.

Walker highlighted an international issue – as you might expect a presidential contender to do -the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

"(The terrorists) are afraid of freedom. They are afraid of those who have the freedom of the press. They are afraid of those who have freedom of speech. They are afraid of those who have freedom of religion. Tonight, we must stand together, Democrat and Republican and denounce those who wish to threaten freedom, anywhere in this world,” Walker said.

Walker received several standing ovations – most from fellow Republicans. Democrats found omissions in the governor’s speech. Representative LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee says she wishes he would have noted the violence that needs addressing here.

“That was part of the governor’s speech - that we want to make sure that freedoms are protected for all. Well, in certain areas in Milwaukee, walking down the street after nightfall is unimaginable. Some of our residents go to sleep hearing gunshots, every night, and they’re waiting for something to be done,” Johnson said.

Johnson says she did not hear anything new for people living with little hope of a better life.

“Listening to his speech, you wouldn’t know that in my district and in Milwaukee, we have an exceptionally high unemployment rate for African American males,” Johnson said.]

The governor’s desire to file a lawsuit against the federal government because of its new energy standards also has Johnson shaking her head.

“I don’t see any purpose behind us wasting additional taxpayer dollars, suing the federal government. Those resources could be used here at home to help people manage and gain affordable health care,” Johnson said.

Johnson says she’ll encourage the Legislature to budget more money to help residents afford health care and childcare.

Lawmakers will get a copy of the governor’s budget in early February, spelling out his strategies for propelling the state forward.