Gov. Scott Walker today called on lawmakers to approve by the end of February legislation he wants as part of a special session to kick start the state’s sluggish economy.
Walker pledged a “new and better Wisconsin that we build together” during his inaugural address in the Capitol rotunda, while promising to balance the state’s budget without raising taxes, raiding segregated funds or “excessive” borrowing.
Walker didn't go into specifics on any cuts he would offer to balance the budget, promising “tough, but compassionate decisions.” After finishing last year in a war of words with state employee union officials over their 2009-11 contracts, Walker invited his “fellow state workers” to join him in an effort to ``right-size government."
“Under our administration, state government will do only what is necessary – no more, no less,” he added later, according to prepared remarks.
Walker has previous pledged to propose an end to the state’s tax on health savings accounts, an overhaul of the Commerce Department, a small business tax cut and tort reform as part of the special session that he was to call today. His office said this morning the specific bills weren't yet ready for public release.
During his address, attended by ex-governors, family members and other dignitaries, Walker frequently cited the Wisconsin Constitution and its history as he pledged to rein in the size of state government.
He also offered five pledges to the public:
- working to restore economic growth and vibrancy to the state.
- right-size state government so it only provides essential services. “My fellow state workers, I invite you to partner with me in this necessary work,” he said.
- improve the education system to make students competitive in a global marketplace.
- protect the state’s natural resources.
- honor and respect the foundational role of the family in our society.
At one point, Walker highlighted a section of the state constitution that reads, “The blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles."
“Today, in this inauguration, we affirm these values and fundamental principles,” Walker said. “It is through frugality and moderation in government that we will see freedom and prosperity for our people.”