One Year In: Governor Walker Answers Your Questions

By: Phil Levin Email
By: Phil Levin Email

Posted Friday, December 23, 2011 ---- 11:15 p.m.

New numbers released Thursday estimate Wisconsin may have lost the second-most jobs of any state last month. Tonight Governor Scott Walker answered his critics, and questions submitted by NBC 15 viewers.

Walker says he was shocked by the 2011 protests, but his opponents say they're protesting because they're shocked by his collecting bargaining initiatives.

"People believe had he detailed those ahead of time he would not have been elected," said Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. "That's why people are so angry."

Walker claims they should have seen it coming based on his reputation in Milwaukee.

"For eight years as county executive I had first-hand experience with collective bargaining," said Walker. "For several years I even ran a reality tour talking about the problems."

New labor laws are just part of a plan to balance a $3 billion budget deficit over two years. Among cuts to local governments and schools, the University of Wisconsin will get nearly $300 million dollars less. That includes $46 million in cuts first detailed Friday. But during Walker's term, overall employment is increasing, just not recently.

"We have now lost jobs five months in a row and that's with Governor Walker's job creation agenda, it isn't working," said Falk.

Indeed the state lost more than 11,000 in November. Wisconsin is up about 16,000 thousand private-sector jobs since his term started a year ago, but it's well short of the 250,000 he campaigned on. Walker says it's too soon to get discouraged.

"The numbers in October and November are disappointing, no doubt about it," he said. "Since the beginning of the year we've gained nearly 20,000 new jobs in the private sector in the state of Wisconsin versus the three years prior to my taking office where we lost 150,000 jobs."

He cites surveys showing businesses are growing more interested in expanding.

"They're making decisions now about where they are going to be a year or two years into the future and how many more jobs they are going to add."

But some of his opponents aren't willing to wait and see. This month recall organizers announced they have at least 94 percent of the signatures needed.

"He gave a huge corporate tax break to the largest, wealthiest, and he cut education. People don't agree with those choices."

If recalled, Walker faces an election in late March or April. Falk ran in 2002, but on Friday she didn't announce or rule out joining the race.

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