Walker: Use surplus for tax cuts

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The governor took the stage in front of lawmakers on Wednesday night, touting achievements from this past year and laying the groundwork for 2014.

On the line - re-election for his job in Wisconsin and the possibility of a presidential run in 2016.

Right out of the gate, the governor touted a $977 million dollar budget surplus, about a half-billion dollars in property and income tax reductions on the way and roughly $100 million dollars going to the state's rainy day fund.

"I propose we deposit a portion of these revenues into the state's rainy day fund and use the remainder to provide much needed tax relief to you, the hardworking taxpayers of Wisconsin," Governor Scott Walker said.

The governor touched on several other issues as well, including agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, education and job creation among other things.

So what was different about this State of the State from year's past?

"What they're doing is transitioning, transitioning out of the government employee phase to candidate phase and I think that's what we saw this evening," said John Frank, a CVTC Political Science instructor and WEAU Political Analyst.

He says Walker has re-election on his mind. He compared Wednesday's speech to the one we heard three years ago.

"This one was totally different, twice the time, probably four times the issues, it was like he was hunting with a shotgun and trying to spread out, vastly different," Frank said.

And that also changed the tone of his speech.

"In an election year the State of the State takes on a new role, and in the new role he became much more positive, less serious, good sense of humor; he used the word positive at least 6 times," Frank added.

Another phrase that came up a lot: blueprint for prosperity.

"In other words, I have a plan for economic growth, look at what I’ve done so far," Frank said about the phrase. "I've got a blueprint for even bigger and better things, economic growth, I'm going to use my state as the pilot project, this could work elsewhere too," he said.

Several lawmakers from both sides offered reaction to the speech. Here are some excerpts from releases that were sent out from their offices on Wednesday night:

Rep. Dana Wachs (D):
“Tonight was a great opportunity for Governor Walker to lay out an agenda that would truly help the middle class and create long-term economic stability in Wisconsin. However, instead of focusing on the priorities that build a strong middle class, the Governor delivered more empty rhetoric that diverts attention away from his failed economic policies. Instead of focusing on headline-grabbing tax cuts for the wealthy, we need to focus on long-term economic security and creating greater opportunities for our middle class."

Rep. Warren Petryk (R):
“Governor Walker’s plan is something that we can all support. The people of the 93rd Assembly District, and across the state, have struggled during the economic downturn. Now, Wisconsin is flourishing because of prudent budgeting we accomplished in Madison and today we are fourth in the nation in budget solvency (according to a study conducted at George Mason University).

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