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Reaction to Gov. Walker budget address

UW System Statement on Governor Walker’s 2013-15 Biennial Budget

MADISON, Wis. – Gov. Scott Walker today released his proposed 2013-15 biennial state budget, which calls for more than $181 million in new taxpayer investments in the University of Wisconsin System.

UW System leaders praised the move to reinvest in higher education.
“Governor Walker recognizes and appreciates the role that UW institutions play in boosting our state’s economy. Job creation and workforce development are top priorities for everyone, including the UW System. We look forward to working with all Legislators from both parties to advance this budget,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly.

“In an era when innovation fuels the state’s economy, investments in the UW System will produce powerful returns for taxpayers. UW campuses will leverage the Incentive Grant Fund to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students, and support growing industries such as energy storage, aeronautics, and water technology,” said Brent Smith, President of the UW System Board of Regents.
“This support from the state will help UW strengthen the workforce, by preparing students for careers in business, healthcare, science, and engineering. Funding for the UW Flexible Option will help working adults complete their college degrees in a more convenient, affordable manner,” said Michael Falbo, Vice President of the UW System Board of Regents.

“Investing in our colleges, universities, and extension networks is an investment in the Wisconsin Idea – our ability to serve citizens in every corner of the state,” said Reilly.

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Republican Party of Wisconsin Reacts to Governor Walker’s Budget Address

[Madison, Wis.] – Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney released the following statement regarding Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Address:

“Wisconsin is once again headed in the right direction, and tonight, Governor Walker put forth a budget that will continue moving our state toward prosperity. His commitment to lowering the tax burden facing families across the state, reforming education and equipping our workforce with the skills needed to succeed will showcase a Wisconsin ready for a modern, world class economy.

“Under Governor Walker’s leadership, we have made the tough, yet prudent, decisions necessary to put our state back on solid financial ground. The reforms have worked, and as a result, we can invest in our priorities and return money back to the hard working taxpayers of Wisconsin.

“I applaud the Governor for his bold leadership and look ahead with excitement as we continue moving Wisconsin forward.”

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AFL-CIO reaction to the Budget

“In his time as Governor, Scott Walker has set the bar so low in putting forth meaningful budget proposals that would in any way help Wisconsin workers that almost anything in his second budget would be an improvement upon the first,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Scott Walker’s budget runs up the partisan score while leaving middle-class families in the dust. This budget is chock-full of suspicious givebacks to private interests and big-dollar campaign contributors. Scott Walker continues to perform his magic act of pretending ‘it’s working’ while making middle-class jobs disappear and crushing the middle class.”

“Gov. Walker’s budget is more smoke and mirrors propped up by a few token improvements than a serious proposal to adequately fund our public schools, health centers and community services,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Gov. Walker’s first budget is still having a deep, devastating impact on the people of Wisconsin and this budget will continue to suffocate our state’s growth potential. For proof, just look at our dismal job numbers. It’s time to stop playing partisan political games and get straight to the work of creating good jobs for Wisconsin.”

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American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network:
Statement on Governor Walker’s Proposed State Budget and its Impact on Cancer in Wisconsin

Madison, Wis.—February 20, 2013—In response to Governor Walker’s proposed state budget, Allison Miller, Wisconsin Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) issued the following statement:

“As an organization dedicated to making the fight against cancer a state and national priority, we are pleased by Governor Walker’s plan to continue funding the Wisconsin Well Woman program at its current level.

“The program, which provides breast and cervical cancer screenings to uninsured and underinsured Wisconsin women, is a critical source of much-needed health care for thousands of women across the state. Last year Well Woman served nearly 10,000 women, providing timely screenings, diagnosis and peace of mind to women who might otherwise be forced to skip their doctor recommended screening.
“Governor Walker protected funding for Well Woman in the last budget and we’re glad to see his continued commitment to the program in this budget.

“In addition to Well Woman, we support funding to the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center for the research and development of improved molecular imaging. This effort holds the promise of enabling doctors to better diagnose, stage and more accurately assess the efficacy of cancer treatments for patients statewide.

“These are two promising budget proposals and we will work to support them throughout the budget process.

“We will also work to defend funding to the state’s dramatically weakened Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, which has been reduced 65 percent in the last two budgets and threatens to erode progress made at reducing the state’s smoking rate and tobacco-related health care costs.
“The Governor has proposed flat funding for the program at $5.3 million; however we had hoped he would restore the program to $6.2 million, which is the amount he proposed in his last budget when state finances were arguably tighter.

“One way to potentially supplement the program’s budget would be to close a tax loophole allowing so-called ‘little cigars’ and other non-cigarette tobacco products to be taxed at a much lower rate than cigarettes. Closing this loophole would reduce the affordability of these products for kids and prevent years of addiction and associated health problems.

“We understand Wisconsin continues to face tough financial choices, yet fighting cancer should always be a top policy priority. We look forward to seeing Governor Walker’s complete budget proposal and working with the Administration to ensure Wisconsin is doing all it can to combat cancer. “

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Moulton Statement on Governor’s 2013-2014 Budget

(Madison)…State Senator Terry Moulton issued the following statement following Governor Scott Walker’s budget address to introduce the 2013-2014 Budget bill:

“Today, Governor Scott Walker introduced a budget bill that reflects our progress made getting Wisconsin’s fiscal house in order. As a result of the tough decisions we made during the past budget cycle, we are now in a position to invest in our future and continue to move Wisconsin forward.

“The Governor’s proposed budget contains many promising ideas and is a great place to start, but we must always look for improvements. As the budget bill moves forward, I will study the bill closely to look for areas that can be improved. I will also be seeking input from constituents and stakeholders over the next few months on this important budget. As always my goal is to continue making Wisconsin great by improving educational opportunities, lowering taxes and creating good paying jobs for people in the Chippewa Valley and across Wisconsin.”

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REP. LARSON REACTS TO BUDGET ADDRESS

State's Priorities are in the Right Place

MADISON - State Representative Tom Larson (R-Colfax) issued the following statement commending the important steps Governor Walker's proposed budget takes in reforming Wisconsin's government:

"The goal is to improve life here in Wisconsin. The difficult decisions made in the last budget have made our state more fiscally sound, but there is still work to be done. We took the easy route for too long. I cannot ask my grandchildren to carry the burden of our mistakes, and that is why it's time we invest in our future.

"By reducing the number of uninsured, devoting new state funds to public education, and focusing on mental health the 2013-2015 budget's priorities are in the right place.

"I am personally pleased to see the Governor's investment in the UW Carbone Cancer Center to help provide better access to diagnostics and treatment in rural areas. This disease has directly affected my family, and I hope this funding can spare future families from dealing with this tragedy.

"If past budget deliberations are any indication, there may be many changes made between now and the Assembly's final budget vote, but I believe Governor Walker's proposal starts us off on the right foot."

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Sen. Vinehout: Statement on Budget

(MADISON) State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) released the following statement today in response to the Governor’s budget address:

“Budgets are about choices. We don’t have the details but it appears public education is not getting its fair share, job training at our technical colleges is getting short changed, and roads and bridges are being paid for by borrowing and raiding money that would otherwise go to schools and universities. These are political choices, not the choices voters in Wisconsin would make. They are not the choices that will strengthen our communities or our economy.”

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Senator Jennifer Shilling statement on the budget

Walker Budget Fails to Invest in Local Schools

MADISON – In response to Governor Scott Walker’s 2013-15 State Budget address, Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) released the following statement:

“As a result of deep cuts that were enacted in the last state budget, Wisconsin now ranks 42nd in job creation and we are dead last among our Midwestern neighbors. We need to take a balanced approach that prioritizes education, worker training, and health care access to encourage business growth and provide opportunities for children and workers throughout the state.

“Unfortunately, Governor Walker’s budget ignores these priorities and diverts almost $100 million dollars to expand his unaccountable and underperforming private voucher school program with taxpayer money. Rather than taking money from our communities to subsidize private voucher schools, we should invest in schools that are accountable to the public and provide educational opportunities for all children.

“Throughout the budget process, I will continue to push for investments in our public schools, affordable health care, and proven worker training programs. Taking a balanced approach will produce both immediate and long-term economic benefits, and will ensure that middle class families have the economic security they deserve.”

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ATTORNEY GENERAL J.B. VAN HOLLEN APPLAUDS GOVERNOR WALKER’S JUSTICE-RELATED BUDGET PROPOSALS

“It has always been my goal to serve and protect the public while being mindful of my obligation to use taxpayers’ money wisely and efficiently. Governor Walker’s budget recognizes that I’ve done this successfully in the past and can be counted on to use additional resources and opportunities responsibly,” Van Hollen said.

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Senator Frank Lasee Statement on Governor Walker’s Budget Proposal

“Tonight, Governor Walker announced his budget, and I am encouraged by his vision for the state”, said Senator Frank Lasee. “This plan does the most good for the most people without spending money Wisconsin does not have.” “Smart budgeting will help the state create jobs and grow our economy.”

“The infrastructure investments Governor Walker has proposed are essential to keeping Wisconsin’s economy moving forward.” “I support the Governor’s allocation of $10.7 million to the Harbor Assistance Program, but some of this money must go towards dredging Washington Island’s Detroit Harbor in order to assure safety and commerce for Washington Island’s residents.”

The Governor also proposed Medicaid and FoodShare reforms as part of his budget plan. Speaking of the reforms, Lasee commented “The Governor is committed to helping those truly in need while not having government do for people what they can do for themselves, and I appreciate his leadership on this much needed reform.”

“Reforming Medicaid will drastically reduce the number of uninsured adults in the state by supporting coverage for low-income individuals through private health insurance.” “Most importantly, Governor Walker’s plan accomplishes this without signing the state up to foot the bill for Obamacare’s inevitable cost overruns.”

“The Governor’s FoodShare proposal will help get those Wisconsinites who are able back to work by requiring employment and worker training to stay eligible for benefits.”

Finally, Governor Walker has proposed doing what any government that takes in more than it spends should: return money to hardworking, middle class taxpayers. “Letting Wisconsin taxpayers keep more of their money will strengthen family pocketbooks and provide an extra boost to our state’s economy.”

“This is a budget with many good ideas for Wisconsin. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the State Senate to take action on these proposals.”

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Senator Fitzgerald Reacts to Governor Walker’s Budget Address

Madison, Wis. – Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) released the following statement today in reaction to Governor Walker’s budget address:

This is what responsible government looks like. In this budget, we will be able to invest in our priorities because we made tough but forward-looking decisions in the last. At a time when the federal government and many state governments are drowning in excessive spending and paralyzing debt, Wisconsin stands on a strong foundation built for prosperity.

A government that promotes reckless levels of spending and debt does not solve its problems, it only enhances them. We will prove once again in this budget that spending money more wisely and efficiently is the solution to our state’s most pressing challenges. Both the present and future generations of Wisconsinites are undoubtedly better off because of our prudent approach to state finances.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to deliver another balanced budget, one that provides a tax cut for middle class families, while investing more money in our schools, roads, and programs for those in need.

Together, we have and will continue to move Wisconsin forward.

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REPRESENTATIVE SMITH RESPONSE TO GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ADDRESS

MADISON – Stephen Smith (D – Shell Lake) issued the following response to Governor Scott Walker’s budget address which took place within the Assembly Chambers on Wednesday night.

“The Governor’s Budget address tonight was a good starting point for our future, and I am looking forward to working with both the Governor and the Majority party to help put our state’s economy back on track toward prosperity for everyone. I am hopeful that we will be able to put public education and worker training back on track for our state. At the same time we need to continue supporting our small, ma and pa businesses and help keep Main Street Wisconsin thriving,” said Smith.

Governor Walker’s speech highlighted lowering taxes, increased state spending on private voucher schools, with only a 1% increase in aid to public schools, investment in transportation infrastructure, and expanding the number of samples in the DNA database for solving and preventing crimes.

“I have concerns with some aspects of the Governor’s proposals, especially in regards to the denial of federal funding for Medicaid support and private school voucher programs,” stated Rep. Smith. “I am not sure that sending private schools a taxpayer funded windfall while barely increasing public and university education funding is an effective way to help our students and children get the necessary skills to compete for jobs in the future. The taxpayers of the 75th Assembly District pay a fair share of their hard earned dollars to go to support their local schools, it’s just not right to ask them to pay for unaccountable voucher schools,” said Smith.

“I believe that we can fix our economy without sacrificing quality of life here in Wisconsin and I am looking forward to working with all of my colleagues to help the people of Wisconsin and return our state to prominence,” stated Smith.

Representative Smith had the opportunity of escorting Governor Walker to the State Assembly chambers for the budget address this evening, along with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and from both houses.

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SUBJECT: DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp statement on Governor Walker’s 2013-15 biennial budget announcement

In response to Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement on the Department of Natural Resources’ 2013-15 biennial budget, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp has issued the following statement:

The work of the Department of Natural Resources is critical for environmental, human and wildlife health as well as to the continuation of the state’s long-standing outdoor heritage. Governor Walker’s budget supports these priorities and greatly contributes to our ability to achieve our mission efficiently, effectively, and for the benefit of Wisconsin’s people, resources and the economy.

This is illustrated by the governor’s inclusion of a number of items that hunters have asked for to enhance deer management in the state. It is also reflected in the allocation of additional DNR staff positions to perform priority work in critical areas such as the rapidly expanding sand mining and processing industry and the Small Business Assistance Program. These additional staff will enhance our ability to work closely with state industries; to serve them effectively while ensuring compliance with environmental standards.

Even in challenging economic times, Governor Walker is making judicious decisions to increase the funds needed for the department to manage Wisconsin’s resources for today and for the future.

DNR gets boost to Small Business Assistance Program though Governor Walker’s budget proposal
MADISON – A proposed expansion of staff in Governor Walker’s 2013-2015 State Biennial Budget proposal could help the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources work with small businesses.
The governor is proposing adding two technical staff to the agency’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program. The staff would provide expanded technical help for all DNR environmental programs.

"Most small businesses desire to comply with all environmental regulations, but they often can't afford to have full-time dedicated staff focused on environmental performance,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “With these positions, small businesses will now have a confidential point of contact within the DNR, an ombudsman, who can help them navigate what can be a complex permitting system."

The regulatory assistance provided by these positions should also reduce small business expenses, lead to greater environmental compliance and more certainty in the permitting process, added Stepp.

The new staff would also:
• provide confidential, non-regulatory environmental compliance assistance to a wide variety of small businesses, including auto body refinishers, dry cleaners, gas stations, printers and wood product manufacturers;
• provide small business assistance assessments through a number of tools including surveys, analysis of enforcement trends and consultations with program staff and small businesses; and
• identify gaps and needs and determine how the regulated community can be served most effectively.

“With these staff, we’re looking at real cost savings to Wisconsin businesses by helping reduce regulatory uncertainty, providing proactive support of job creation and providing permitting and regulatory assistance,” said Stepp.

Governor Walker moves to streamline state petroleum cleanup programs under one agency
Within his 2013-2015 State Biennial Budget initiative to make government more streamlined and efficient, Governor Scott Walker is requesting the State Legislature consolidate Wisconsin’s petroleum cleanup programs under the Department of Natural Resources.

The proposal would transfer the Petroleum Cleanup Fund Award (PECFA) Program from the Department of Safety and Professional Services to the DNR. Currently DSPS manages all PECFA claims and is responsible for low and medium risk petroleum site cleanups, while the DNR is responsible for higher risk sites.

According to the DNR budget office, the move would save $1 million per biennium through reduced transaction costs and elimination of duplicative processes. It would also create consistent and efficient policy management and standards and streamline service delivery over the long term.

"I applaud Governor Walker for his focus on making government more efficient. This proposal not only saves tax dollars, but it will also lead to greater efficiency by providing a one-stop shop for these important environmental clean-ups," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

Stepp said the change would also transfer DSPS’ Bureau of PECFA staff and the associated state and federal funding from DSPS to DNR.

The natural resource agency originally managed PECFA before the legislature split the program between the DNR and the former Department of Commerce in the mid-1990s.

Governor Walker requests additional staff in state budget in effort to broaden DNR management at industrial sand sites

In an effort to expand the state’s management of natural resources in and around industrial sand sites in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker requested two additional staff in the Air Program to work on compliance and monitoring activities as part of his 2013-2015 State Biennial Budget proposal to the Legislature.

While sand and gravel mining has existed in Wisconsin for decades, a recent growth in the industry is occurring nationally, attributed largely to hydrofracking, a technique used by the petroleum industry to extract natural gas and crude oil from rock formations.

Within the past few years, more than 70 sand mining and processing operations either have been constructed or are under construction in the state. The department estimates 40 additional “frac” sand mining or processing sources could become operational over the next few years.

“This rapid increase and expansion of sand mining and processing operations in Wisconsin has created a significant, new workload, in a compressed amount of time,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We are committed to dedicating staff time and resources to protect Wisconsin’s public health and the environment.”

Staff in these positions will:
• conduct compliance activities for new and existing sand mines and to provide support to monitoring activities;
• conduct full or partial compliance inspections of operational frac sand operations for compliance with air pollution requirements;
• provide compliance assistance and assurance;
• respond to complaints by following through with investigation and compliance auditing, which may include partial compliance inspection;
• ensure proper enforcement procedures are implemented in cases where non-compliance is found, including referral to the DOJ when necessary; and
• provide assistance with ambient air quality monitoring activities.

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Harsdorf Statement on Governor’s Budget Address

“Following the challenging budget and tough decisions we made last session, I am pleased that the current budget outlook provides us with opportunities to invest in our priorities as we work to maintain a sound financial position. The Governor’s budget address put an emphasis on building on our successes by reducing the tax burden on middle-class families and focusing on economic development, education, and transportation.”

“There are a number of important provisions in the Governor’s budget that address our state’s skills gap, increase access to capital investment for start-up businesses, and expand mental health services. Additionally, I appreciate the Governor’s action on enhanced DNA collection, an issue I have championed in the State Legislature.”

“As a member of the budget-writing committee, I look forward to learning the details of the Governor’s budget bill and listening to citizen input at the public hearings. As the budget process moves forward, I will be working with my colleagues on the committee as we consider modifications to the budget bill and pass a budget that focuses on fiscal responsibility and putting people back to work.”

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Rep. Williams Statement on Budget Address

(Madison…) Representative Mary Williams (R-Medford) issued the following statement about Gov. Walker’s proposed budget:

“I believe the Governor released a great budget tonight. It’s fiscally sound like our last budget, while allowing taxpayers to reap the rewards from our past budget policies. This long overdue income tax relief contained in this budget will not only help drive economic growth, it will also help many people pay for items that have been steadily increasing such as energy and food.

“A few of the other items I’m most excited about in the budget are the $476.6 million funding for public schools, improvements made to the GI Bill, expansion of school choice, entitlement reform, and how it pays for transportation projects without raising taxes or fees.”

“I believe the way we have cleaned up our fiscal house will become a model for other states around the country. Our state has come from facing huge deficits to surpluses in the span of a few short years. It has to be noted that we were able to do all of this without raising taxes, increasing regulations, or growing government, something that many said couldn’t be done.”

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REP BERNIER ON BUDGET INTRODUCTION

Rep. Bernier Comments on Governor Walker’s Budget Address

Madison – Tonight in Madison, Governor Scott Walker presented his Budget Address to a joint session of the Legislature and a state-wide viewing and listening audience.

“We are learning a lot about the Governor’s priorities. We’ve been getting bits and pieces of policy initiatives for some time and it’s nice to hear the whole package. We should be seeing the budget document soon. I’m encouraged by the emphasis the Governor put on low and middle class tax relief,” Rep. Bernier said.

Wisconsin’s Governor is constitutionally required to prepare a budget and submit it to the legislature. The state will watch and wait to see how closely Governor Walker’s priorities line up with the 101st Legislature’s. “I’m certain there will be both areas of agreement and disagreement,” said Rep. Bernier.

One key provision highlighted by Governor Walker tonight was the $20 million investment in the Department of Workforce Development. The plan will establish Workforce Training Grants, a Labor Market Information System (LMIS), and create of the Office of Skills Development.

Rep. Bernier is the author of this proposal in the legislature (Assembly Bill 14). “This will finally establish a statewide workforce training program employers have been clamoring for,” said Rep. Bernier. “One of our goals in bringing our bill forward is to foster communication, coordination and cooperation among our state’s primary drivers of economic development. I believe it’s imperative for our state to address the growing skills gap and I’m pleased to be the author of this policy initiative in the state Assembly. And I’m especially happy to see that it is high on the Governor’s priority list as well,” Rep. Bernier said.

Another priority in the Governor’s Budget Address tonight is his plan to include $30 million to expand mental health services in Wisconsin – the largest investment in mental health in over 30 years. “Investments should be targeted to critical programs aimed at increasing awareness of the issues surrounding mental health, and enhanced assistance for those who need help most urgently,” Rep. Bernier said.

The Budget must be approved by both the Assembly and Senate before it is sent to the Governor for his signature. The process will likely take months and is statutorily required to be complete by July 1.
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The following is a statement from UW-Eau Claire Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet regarding Gov. Scott Walker's proposed 2013-15 biennial state budget, which calls for more than $181 million in new taxpayer investments in the UW System.

"Governor Walker's budget provides meaningful reinvestment in the UW System, especially in terms of expanding talent and economic development efforts. As a liberal arts-based institution, UW-Eau Claire plays a key role in today's talent development and tomorrow's job creation.

"UW-Eau Claire is committed to working with our higher education, economic development and business partners in western Wisconsin and beyond to provide graduates with the skills necessary to succeed in today's highly interconnected and constantly changing world.

"At UW-Eau Claire, we are exploring ways to expand and enhance our current talent and economic development efforts through closer collaboration with our community, the region and state.In fact, today we are hosting on campus a gathering of a core group of higher education, business and economic development executives to brainstorm new ways we can coordinate resources and expertise to identify existing and emerging skills gaps and take action to address them.

"After a decade of budget cuts, I am delighted that the state's reinvestment in higher education will help us keep higher education affordable in Wisconsin.

"I also am extremely appreciative that the Governor's budget provides language to grant the UW System Board of Regents flexibility, including the authority to establish compensation plans for UW employees, which remains one of our highest priorities. I am impressed on a daily basis by the extraordinary work that our faculty and staff do with our students.

"UW-Eau Claire looks forward to joining UW System in working with state legislators from both parties to advance Gov. Walker's budget. I want to thank our local legislators for their strong and continuing support of UW-Eau Claire, and I look forward to together positioning western Wisconsin for economic growth and prosperity."


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