Zipperer discusses state budget, water issue
Walker’s chief of staff meets with Waukesha County residents


Oct. 24, 2015


Rich Zipperer, chief of staff for Gov. Scott Walker, discusses the state budget during a meet-and-greet held Friday by the Waukesha County Business Alliance.
Katherine Michalets/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA — Gov. Scott Walker has returned to the state Capitol and renewed his focus on Wisconsin and its budget, his Chief of Staff Rich Zipperer emphasized during a meet-and-greet event held Friday morning by the Waukesha County Business Alliance. Zipperer’s talk followed suit and focused on issues in the budget and where the state is headed.

Zipperer formerly was the state senator representing the 33rd District and he still lives in Pewaukee.

“(Walker) is very much engaged in the state and wants to work on job creation and economic growth,” Zipperer said Friday.

One of the areas that Walker is focusing on is the civil service and how the public sector can hire the best employees for the positions. Zipperer said right now the public sector struggles with being able to compete with the private sector because of the slowness of its hiring process, which involves tests and interviews of unqualified candidates.

“I think too often fantastic employees were lost to the private sector,” he said.

Walker wants to work to streamline the hiring process, Zipperer said.

Another big issue Zipperer focused on Friday was the amount of transportation funds in the budget, which made headlines this week. The governor asked lawmakers to approve an additional $200 million in bonding for road projects in 2016 to keep some major projects on track.

Zipperer said the bond level is at its lowest in 20 years. He said Walker also wants to keep the level of bonding down and at an appropriate level.

One audience member asked about the advantages and disadvantages of raising revenue with tolls.

Zipperer said the tolls would need to be approved by the federal government and they sometimes are inefficient to operate. But he said a plus is that it’s a way to raise revenue from out-of-state residents who use Wisconsin’s highways, much like if someone who buys gas in Wisconsin and pays tax on it.

Another area that Zipperer highlighted Friday is how health care costs are going up.

“We have quickly seen that health care is a cost driver that we have to frequently respond to with the budget,” he said.

A real concern, Zipperer said, is not knowing where the federal government is headed with health care.

Another audience member asked about the Waukesha application for Lake Michigan water and said it was a case where bureaucracy has been responsive, citing the Department of Natural Resources’ work on the project. He also wanted to know what the governor’s office is doing to help the process along and to encourage other states’ governors to vote in favor of the application.

Zipperer said the process is at the point where the DNR is reviewing the comments it received during public hearings and will finalize documents in the coming weeks.

“Some of the work has already started with the DNR talking to other states to lay the groundwork,” he said. “We are very well aware of the potential benefits for Waukesha County and the city.”