E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker
One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government. I also frequently provide updates on Facebook (Governor Scott Walker) and Twitter (@govwalker). Please feel free to share this update with your family, friends, and others who may be interested in state government operations.
Racine Metal-Fab to Add Jobs
This week I announced that Racine Metal-Fab is planning to invest more than $8.5 million to build and, with state assistance, equip a new facility in Sturtevant. Most importantly they have committed to hiring 25 Wisconsinites. Under the economic development deal struck by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation the company will receive tax credits, which will be distributed over a three-year period. Additionally, Racine Metal-Fab must maintain the jobs created by this project for at least five years.
Racine Metal-Fab is a specialty metal fabricator serving a variety of industries including commercial lighting, medical equipment, energy, and appliance components. The company's focus is on assisting customers to take new product ideas from concept through design to production. Jobs remain the number one goal of our administration and we’ll continue to take action to put Wisconsinites back to work.
U.S. Congress Approves St. Croix River Project
After decades of work to move forward the St. Croix River Project, a federal bill authorizing action is now going to the President’s desk. This legislation was a top federal priority for my administration and is a great example of bipartisanship that will create thousands of jobs. The construction of a safer, better bridge will bring a welcome economic boost to the region.
I thank Congressmen Sean Duffy and Ron Kind, as well as Senators Ron Johnson and Herb Kohl, along with the many others who worked on this legislation in Wisconsin and Minnesota including Governor Mark Dayton, for their diligence and persistence in bringing this federal legislation across the finish line.
Year of the Veteran
As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is important to recognize the tremendous dedication, as well as sacrifice, given by so many members of the Armed Forces from Wisconsin.
Since the Civil War, more than 26,000 Wisconsin servicemen and women have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Today, there are more than 400,000 veterans living in Wisconsin—of that, about 56,000 live with disabilities. And more than 150 servicemen and women, with some connection to Wisconsin, gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country since September 11, 2001.
In an effort to highlight the important role veterans play in all aspects of life in Wisconsin, this week I dedicated 2012 as the Year of the Veteran. As part of the Year of the Veteran:
· State agencies will hold at least 15 veteran specific job fairs and four employer education symposiums;
· We launched www.yearoftheveteran.com to create a centralized resource of support for veterans and their families;
· I signed pro-veterans legislation into law this week, and have plans to sign many more over the next few weeks;
· We will hold numerous events this year honoring veterans and their families; and
· The Department of Tourism will create a travel list of veteran related sites such as museums and memorials.
By dedicating 2012 as the Year of the Veteran, we will focus attention on connecting veterans to jobs—as well as to programs, benefits, and services available to them.
Mining Reform Update
I am continuing to work to pass mining reform legislation that balances the need for economic development with the need to preserve Wisconsin’s valuable natural resources. It’s important to find the right balance that can bring thousands of jobs to Wisconsin while maintaining environmental protections. This week I toured throughout Wisconsin various companies and visited with employees that would benefit from mining reform.
I am hopeful the Legislature will take action on meaningful mining reform in the next few weeks so a mining project in northwestern Wisconsin that would create at least 700 jobs could move forward.
Just Ask the Governor: Part VI
Each e-update I will answer a question submitted by a recipient of the previous e-update or from someone who contacts my office directly.
Question: Some teachers in my building said that they heard you had plans to "steal" money already deposited in the teacher retirement system. They think that teachers could no longer count on these retirement funds already in their accounts to be available to them. Will teachers lose money already in their retirement accounts?
Answer: No. I will veto any proposal that attempts to reduce pension benefits already accrued by public employees, including teachers. In fact, modifying earned retirement benefits would likely be a violation of state law. Additionally, I am currently not planning to make any changes to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS).
These rumors started because WEAC, AFSCME, and other public sector unions sent communications to their members indicating that I have plans to abolish or completely overhaul the WRS. These claims are 100% false.
It’s unfortunate that the very unions who are supposed to be looking out for public employees are misleading their membership for the personal gain of a few union bosses. Ultimately the unions’ political tactic of spreading misinformation does a disservice to all public employees. I am hopeful that by spreading the truth we can avoid any unnecessary early retirements that could result from the dissemination of inaccurate information.
The basis of the unions’ false claim lies in the fact that I originally brought up the idea of studying the WRS and comparing it to retirement systems in other states earlier last year. However, I did not include this proposal in my version of the biennial state budget. It became law after the Legislature inserted a provision into the budget that required the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) to study pension options. The goal of the study is to determine how the WRS can remain stable and avoid the massive shortfalls facing other states. ETF put out a detailed summary of the study, which can be accessed by clicking here.
You can also read about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s fact-check on this issue by clicking here.
The results of the ETF study will help us ensure that the WRS can continue to be one of the best publicly funded pension systems in the world.
It has been a pleasure communicating with you. It is an honor to serve as your Governor and represent the residents of Wisconsin.
Governer Scott Walker
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