Education reform and an increase in the budget for schools were two topics that got plenty of attention from Gov. Scott Walker during an appearance in Wauwatosa.
Walker spoke to the members of the Wauwatosa Rotary Club Wednesday, Feb. 1 at the San Camillo Retirement Community.
Walker also addressed his time as a Wauwatosa resident, the state of the economy, unemployment rates and his efforts in securing jobs for veterans and people with disabilities.
"The state of our state is really strong," Walker said.
Walker proceeded to give the gathering of about 100 people a preview of the state budget that will be released Monday, Feb 6.
"We have a strong economy and it continues to grow," Walker said. "Two weeks ago new revenue estimates came out about the state of Wisconsin that showed that we have even more revenues than expected."
Walker said one benefit from this extra revenue would be an increase in the education budget.
"You are going to see a dramatic increase in the amount we spend on public education, both on a per school and a per pupil basis," Walker said.
He said schools that give students a head start on college credits would be a focus for the increased funding.
"At a time when we have this incredible need to fill the workforce we can't afford to have anyone on the sidelines," Walker said. "We are going to take this reform dividend and invest it first and foremost in education in this state."
In a post-event news conference, Walker said he is aware of a teacher shortage both in Wisconsin and nationwide and believes a sharing program of staff between districts could be the answer. He said details of the program will be coming during the state budget announcement.
"We will be talking about some things that specifically talk about Milwaukee and Milwaukee-area schools," Walker said. "What we are going to do in this budget, not just in Wauwatosa but for everybody, is put more money in overall for schools."
Walker also talked about being more aggressive in hiring veterans and people with disabilities and cited the nearby Milwaukee County Zoo and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin as prime examples of partners in that effort.
"We are taking a giant step forward in what we call Wisconsin works for everyone," Walker said. "Every adult who is physically and mentally capable of working should be employed. And we can help them."
The governor said he will take some of the welfare reforms that have worked well in the past and rework them to put as many people into the workforce as possible.
"I firmly believe that public assistance should be a trampoline and not a hammock," Walker said. "I think about the childhood that (my family) had in Wauwatosa … I'd like to think that every child in this state has that opportunity."