Walker draws contrast with federal government in speech


Jan. 6, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker acknowledges the crowd after being inaugurated for his second term.

MADISON, Wis. Gov. Scott Walker argued during his inaugural address kicking off his second term in office on Monday that his record in Wisconsin stands in contrast to that of the federal government, an increasingly common theme of his as he eyes a run for the White House next year.

"We've shown why the founders of this great nation looked to the states and not the federal government as the source of hope for this exceptional country," the Republican Walker said after being sworn in. "We will not let them down."

Walker's potential presidential run has brought national scrutiny to his record as governor and plans for this year's legislative session attention that few would have expected four years ago when Walker first took office.

He said during his first term, he took power away from "big government special interests" a reference to the law known as Act 10 that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers and that thrust Walker into the national spotlight due to massive protests. The measure spurred a recall election that Walker won in 2012, further raising his national profile as the first governor to survive such an effort.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, left, reacts as her daughters, Violet and Ella, give an invocation during an inauguration ceremony, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, at the Capitol in Madison, Wis. Gov. Scott Walker was inaugurated for his second term.

Walker used his second-term inaugural speech Monday to note that Wisconsin's unemployment rate is lower than it was four years ago and that the state's pension system is among the best in the country.

"In contrast to the politicians along the Potomac, we get things done here in the Badger State," Walker said. "There is a clear contrast between Washington and Wisconsin."

For his second term, Walker promised to reduce the size and scope of government, merge state agencies, combat waste, fraud and abuse, lower taxes and build a transportation infrastructure to help the economy.

Sen. Jennifer Shilling, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said she expected Walker to be more cautious this year as he considers the presidential bid.

Rev. Llewellyn Scott Walker, right, gives the benediction for his son, Gov. Scott Walker, left, after the governor's inauguration at the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, in Madison, Wis. Pictured next to the governor is his son Alex.

"Suddenly we have the eyes of the nation that will be upon this state," she said. "I think he's going to be very careful, very scripted, very disciplined about what he wants to do."

Walker and the Legislature's biggest challenge will be dealing with a projected $2.2 billion budget shortfall, but numerous other hot-button issues are looming including a debate over right-to-work legislation. Fiercely opposed by unions, such a law would bar private-sector unions from requiring workers to join or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Walker will be working with a Republican-controlled Legislature, as he did in his first term. Both the Senate and Assembly were holding ceremonies Monday afternoon to swear in those who were elected in November.

Republicans hold a 63-36 majority in the Assembly and an 18-14 majority in the Senate, with one seat vacant. A special election to fill that seat, which is in a heavily Republican district, is set for April 7.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses the crowd after being inaugurated for his
second term at the Capitol.

Twenty-five new Assembly members, including 18 Republicans and seven Democrats, and seven new senators, including five Republicans and two Democrats, were set to take the oath for the first time.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel and state Treasurer Matt Adamczyk were also sworn in on Monday. The only Democrat elected to statewide office, Secretary of State Doug La Follette, skipped the inauguration to attend a meeting of land commissioners in Phoenix.

La Follette, who was sworn-in privately last month, said he wasn't trying to send a political message with his decision to skip the ceremony.

"It's a historic event every four years, but there's no substance you miss," he said.

Former governors Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum, both Republicans, also attended the ceremony.

The ceremony was a family affair. Walker's two sons who are in college, Matt and Alex, served as masters of ceremony. His wife, Tonette, introduced Walker and several other extended family members were there. Walker's father and Baptist minister, Llewellyn Walker, delivered a prayer to close the program.

Thompson says he hopes Walker runs for president

MADISON, Wis.  Former Gov. Tommy Thompson says now is the time for Gov. Scott Walker to run for president, and if he intends to run he needs to get in the race soon.

Thompson said Monday after Walker's inauguration ceremony that he told Walker to be bold and make a difference in his second term. Thompson says Walker smiled and told him he would do that.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson waves to the crowd during an inauguration ceremony for Gov. Scott Walker.

Thompson ran for president briefly after he left public office in 2007, but dropped out after just four months when a straw poll showed him in sixth place.

Thompson says he should have run for president during his second term as governor in 1992. Thompson says, "I waited too long."

He says the sooner Walker gets in, the better his chances will be.

Wisconsin Assembly members sworn in

MADISON, Wis. The Wisconsin Assembly's 99 members are taking the oath of office for the 2015-17 legislative session.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser swore in the members en masse on Monday afternoon. The representatives, wearing boutonnieres, then took turns signing the oath of office book. The book has been used on every inauguration day since 1877.

Prosser swore in Republican Rep. Robin Vos individually as Assembly speaker to a standing ovation. Vos served as speaker during the last session as well. He delivered a speech calling on representatives to shrink government by consolidating agencies and curb spending.

Republicans control the chamber 63-36. They control the Senate 18-14 and Scott Walker holds the governor's office, giving the GOP complete control of state government for a third straight session.

Wisconsin Senate welcomes 17 senators, 7 who are new

MADISON, Wis. Seventeen Wisconsin state senators have taken the oath of office for a four-year term.

The senators, including seven who are new to the Senate, were sworn into office Monday by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler. A similar ceremony was held in the Assembly. Gov. Scott Walker and constitutional officers were sworn in earlier Monday.

Republicans hold an 18-14 majority in the Senate with one vacant seat in a Republican district. There are seven new senators this session. Five of them are Republicans and two are Democrats.

Sen. Mary Lazich is beginning her term as president of the Senate, marking the first time that a woman has held the position presiding over the daily session.

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald returns as Republican majority leader. Sen. Jennifer Shilling is the Democratic leader.

Wisconsin Democratic leader expects scripted governor

MADISON Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling says she expects Republican Gov. Scott Walker will play things very cautiously in his second term.

Shilling, a La Crosse Democrat, told reporters during a news conference ahead of Walker's second-term inauguration Monday that the last four years with Walker at the helm and Republicans in complete control of the Legislature were difficult.

She says Walker knows the eyes of the nation are on him as he mulls a presidential bid. She expects him to be quote "very careful, very scripted, very disciplined" about his agenda.

Before the news conference began a television cameraman asked Shilling to move a roll of paper towels on the table in front of her. Shilling joked she might need them to mop up Republican messes.

Republican Schimel sworn in as Wisconsin attorney general

MADISON Republican Brad Schimel says he is putting drug smugglers and dealers on notice that they are "public enemy No. 1" as he begins his tenure as Wisconsin attorney general.

Schimel was sworn in as attorney general on Monday. Schimel won election in November, taking over for fellow Republican J.B. Van Hollen who decided not to seek a third term.

Schimel, the former Waukesha County district attorney, says he spent the past 25 years as a prosecutor fighting crimes and the toughest challenge he's encountered is heroin and prescription drug abuse.

Schimel also says he is making a "solemn promise" to put aside politics in his role as attorney general leading the state Department of Justice.


Associated Press