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Walker focuses on filling open jobs during seventh State of the State addressSubmitted: 01/10/2017

Lane Kimble
Assistant News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com


MADISON - Inside a full Assembly chamber, Gov. Scott Walker noted the job market is filled with opportunity.

"You see, without a doubt, Wisconsin is working," Walker said.

Walker focused heavily on employment through his 40-minute State of the State speech at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon.

"Wages are up,more than 50,000 new businesses have been created, and our unemployment rate, that's down to 4.1 percent," Walker said.

This coming session, filling those jobs is a priority. Walker admitted the state Workforce Development website has 80,000 openings. Meanwhile, five Northwoods counties (Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Florence, and Iron) have some of the highest unemployment rates in the state, including state Sen. Janet Bewley's Iron County.

"We've gotta make sure we're looking at the actual quality of life of people who do have jobs," Bewley (D-Delta) said. "Just because you have a job doesn't mean you're not poor."

Walker hopes to better prepare workers for those jobs by re-filling public schools with more funding.

"I want great schools for every student in the state," Walker said. "Our budget will include a significant increase for public schools. We will also help rural schools that have unique challenges such as transportation costs, broadband access, and declining enrollment."

Walker pledged $35.5 million more to help schools upgrade technology like fab labs, while promising to cut college tuition for all state undergrads.

Lincoln County Rep. Mary Felzkowski (formerly Czaja) thinks investing in schools will have a positive effect on the job market.

"We're going to be bringing in more employers," Felzkowski (R-Irma) said. "They're going to start looking at Wisconsin because we are leading the way."

As for getting to those jobs, Walker drew the lightest applause of the afternoon for his stance on filling an estimated $1 billion transportation shortfall standing by his word to not raise the gas tax or registration fees.

"Whether you agree with me or not, I hope you can respect that I keep my word," Walker said.

"If he is not going to raise revenue from some other place, he is going to cut something," Bewley said. "Soanother ax is about to fall and he didn't give us a clue as to what it's going to be."

State Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) agrees with Felzkowski's take on transportation: wait for an audit for the DOT to come in first before making any funding decisions.

"I'm not quite in as firm a position as the governor, but I do believe we need to use the dollars we have most effectively first," Tiffany said.

It's a battle Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) admits many Republicans don't agree with the governor on. But he says that, by and large the governor s priorities on jobs and schools are his.

"All of [today's speech focus] goes together, and hopefully those people will come and stay and hopefully those kids stay here and raise their own families," Swearingen said.

Those are families that Gov. Walker sees getting back to work.

"Wisconsin's future is bright, but there's more work to be done," Walker said. "We're not done yet."

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 04/26/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll take you live to the Vilas County Courthouse for day 3 of the trial for 36-year-old Rodney Teets who is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at knife point in July 2015.

The Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness wants to work with landlords to help people get back on their feet. We talk to the housing program team leader about a meeting coming up in Rhinelander that will allow landlords to share information that can help the homeless find places to rent.

And we talk with The Forest County Health Department director about a program that is encouraging people to limit their time with TV, computers, iPhones and other types of screens for a week.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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WISCONSIN - Turkey season began last week and hunters have a new option for what they can do with the turkeys they shoot.

The DNR started a turkey donating program this year.

You can donate turkey's to three processors in the southern half of the state.

"A little bit further south of here in areas where there's usually a lot of deer donations and a lot of turkey shot so that we can try and get some good participation for the first year," said DNR's Wildlife Biologist, Jeremy Holtz.

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RHINELANDER - Nothing gets the competitive juices flowing like racing to fix a car's fuse box. Nicolet College in Rhinelander hosted 12 Northwoods high schools for some friendly competition with a specific goal in mind.

The competitions varied from auto skills to welding to even cupcake baking. The goal was for students to begin thinking about college.

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MADISON - A Republican-backed proposal that would ban the coverage of abortions for Wisconsin state workers has cleared the state Assembly Health Committee.

The panel approved the bill Wednesday on a party-line vote, with all Republicans in support and Democrats against.

It now heads to the full Assembly for consideration.

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LANSING, MI - Legislation changing the regulation of copper mines could soon become law.

Republican Sen. Tom Casperson's bill - which was enrolled Wednesday after being approved by the GOP-led House 74-35 Tuesday - would establish separate regulations for small native copper mines that developers are eyeing in the western Upper Peninsula. The bill would also not allow for local governments to regulate mining activities.

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LINCOLN COUNTY - WARNING: Some of the above video is disturbing

In late February, a Lincoln County Deputy shot and killed a man who was shooting at him.

On Tuesday, the Lincoln County District Attorney said Deputy Sam Steckbauer was justified to use deadly force.

The DA made this decision after an extensive investigation by the State's Department of Justice.

The DOJ released video taken from the squad car footage, police scanner traffic, and a 911 call that helps explain what happened that night.

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VILAS COUNTY - The trial for a Vilas County man accused of sexual assault entered its second day.

Thirty-six-year-old Rodney Teets faces three charges of first degree sexual assault.

The woman who accuses him of those crimes testified on the witness stand on Tuesday. Newswatch 12 is not identifying the woman.

The woman started telling her story, often through tears, of how the July 2015 night events unfolded. She testified while she was driving Teets to his home, she noticed he was holding a knife in his hand near his driver seat headrest. Then she started to describe the alleged assault, showing pictures of her car and identifying what she wore that night.

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