Chief Justice Abrahamson, members of the Supreme Court, Governor Doyle (and Governor I want to commend both you and the First Lady for your phenomenal help during this transition and for your service to our state), Governor Schreiber, Governor Thompson, Governor McCallum, Senator Kohl, Senator-elect Johnson, Representatives Sensenbrenner, Petri, Kind, Ryan, Moore, Representative-elect Duffy, Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch, Attorney General Van Hollen, Treasurer Schuller, Superintendent Evers, members of the state Legislature, tribal leaders, General Dunbar and all other members of the Armed Forces, those serving today and those who served in the past, reverend clergy, state employees, family and friends; and most importantly, fellow citizens of Wisconsin.
It is with great honor that I stand before you today. I am your servant.
I want to thank God for the privilege of living in such a remarkable country and for growing up in the greatest state in the nation.
I also want to thank my family: Tonette – who is my rock and who is going to be an amazing First Lady; our sons Matt and Alex – I marvel at the remarkable young men you have become; my parents Llew and Pat Walker – who always set a powerful example of how to serve others; my brother David, sister-in-law Maria and their girls for your support; my father-in-law Tony and all of my other family – Thank you for all of your amazing love and devotion.
Thanks go out to all who are participants in our ceremony today. I’m particularly grateful to the members of the 132nd Army Band and all other members of the Wisconsin National Guard – not only for their services today, but for the ongoing support of our many brave men and women who are deployed even as we speak. Our prayers go out to all of you.
Most importantly, I want to thank the people of Wisconsin. So many of you have offered your support and prayers. Tonette and I thank you.
Today, I stand before you – not as the governor of one party or another; or the governor of one part of the state or another. Today, I stand before you as the Governor for all of the people in this State of Wisconsin.
And as your Governor, I make this pledge:
- Wisconsin is open for business. We will work tirelessly to restore economic growth and vibrancy to our state. My top three priorities are jobs, jobs, and jobs.
- We will right-size state government by ensuring government is providing only the essential services our citizens need and taxpayers can afford. My fellow state workers, I invite you to partner with me in this necessary work.
- We will also remain focused on the long term, creatively improving our education system so that our children can be competitive in a global marketplace.
- We will protect our vital natural resources.
- And we will honor and respect the foundational role of the family in our society.
My fellow citizens that is my pledge to you. A pledge for a new and better Wisconsin that we build together.
Just moments ago, I took a solemn oath to defend our Constitution, which rests right here. Our constitution is a document of, by and for the people. It is bigger than any government, any Legislature, or any Governor.
When the citizens of the Wisconsin Territory approved our Constitution in 1848, they envisioned a brighter future for themselves and their children.
It was a Constitution born of conflict and controversy. First rejected, then approved as the people came together to forge a pioneering vision to drive our state Forward.
It begins simply and speaks to the source of our liberties: "We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our Freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution." Powerful words.
Our rights as free people are given by our creator, not the government. Among these rights is the right to nurture our freedom and vitality through limited government.
These rights were articulated in our original constitution. They were never amended nor revised. And these rights are evident and expressed in our cherished freedoms. Among them… freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Article I, Section 22 of the state constitution reads so eloquently: "The blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles."
Today, in this inauguration, we affirm these values and fundamental principles. It is through frugality and moderation in government that we will see freedom and prosperity for our people.
More than 162 years after the writing of this constitution, we stand ready to chart a new course for our great state. We look to the past not to lay blame, but for inspiration. And we look forward to the solutions that will help us reach new levels of economic prosperity.
Our first step is to rebuild Wisconsin’s economy.
And how will we do that? We open Wisconsin for business.
Nearly two years ago, I met a couple in Vilas County who ran a metal fabricating company. Times were tough and they had to lay off all of their other employees, sell their building and work out of their own garage. Still, like the spirit that fills so many others in this great state, they wanted to get the business going again – and hire back those workers – and maybe even employ more in the future. They had a dream of renewal.
The dream born in Vilas County gives me hope for the future of our great state. It is upon their dream – and the dreams of millions of our fellow citizens – that we build a plan for renewal.
And it starts today. To begin our transformation, we will work with our legislative partners – in both political parties – to pass a series of bold reforms that will send a clear message: "Wisconsin is open for business."
We have an ambitious goal: 250,000 new jobs by 2015. I know we can do it because we did it a generation ago.
In January of 1987, Governor Tommy Thompson declared in this rotunda that "our highest priority will be jobs: more jobs, better jobs, and most importantly secure jobs for Wisconsin workers." By the end of his first term, the people of our state had created 258,000 jobs.
To kick start our plan to create a quarter of a million new jobs, I will call a special session of the State Legislature starting today. Here is the official call that I will present to the new leaders of the Assembly and Senate. We will present a bold set of reforms aimed at helping businesses create jobs.
We have worked with lawmakers and leaders from across the state to develop a blueprint to improve our business climate and spur job-creating economic growth.
Today, I ask my friends in the Legislature to unite and pass these reforms into law to unleash the power of economic freedom. To create jobs for our citizens.
Our message is simple. Act swiftly. Act decisively. And pass our jobs plan by the end of February. Let us get Wisconsin working again!
Our jobs plan provides relief from taxation, regulation and litigation costs for employers. And it makes it easier for workers and farmers to afford health care.
We will transform the Department of Commerce into a public/private partnership that will effectively promote commerce throughout Wisconsin. We need more commerce.
Our citizens are hurting. Let us come together and work for passage of these needed reforms.
We have businesses in this state that are in a position to hire new workers.
Yet, time and time again, employers who could hire people tell me they are uneasy about the future. And most are concerned about what the government might do to them next.
The changes we promote as part of our special session on jobs will send a clear message to Wisconsin job creators: now is the time for investment.
To the business owners of our state, I say stay here, grow here, invest here. To businesses around the world, I say bring your jobs here. We have the most talents workforce in the world; men and women who work tirelessly and deliver the highest quality.
Creating a more vibrant economy; however, will not happen without a return to frugality in government–returning to our fundamental constitutional principles.
Soon, we will lay out our plans for the next state budget and we will successfully tackle the three billion dollar deficit. We will do it without raids on segregated funds, or excessive borrowing
Let me be clear on one thing: Increasing taxes is off the table – as it will counter our efforts to provide economic growth. Instead, we will make tough, but compassionate decisions to balance the next state budget in a way that will get Wisconsin working again. Under our administration, state government will do only what is necessary – no more, no less.
We will fight any action that keeps our employers from creating more jobs. But we will not abandon our fundamental responsibilities to protect our families and our property, provide for a high-quality education for our children, ensure care for the most vulnerable among us, and enhance the quality of life for our citizens.
A high quality of life; however, is not the result of a bigger, ever-expanding government.
As President Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address: "There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts."
In Wisconsin, we will define our quality of life as the expansion of liberty, freedom, and economic prosperity in neighborhoods all across the state. Our government will not only be smaller. It will be better. More responsive, more efficient, more effective.
In January of 1971, Governor Patrick Lucey said in this rotunda that "public officials and civil servants must expect to do more with fewer resources than in the past." His words ring true today as well.
In Wisconsin and all across America, state government is facing the toughest challenges of our generation. But with great challenges bring great opportunities. We are up to the task. This is Wisconsin. We can do better. We will do better. We will lead the way.
Tonette and I often say that traveling across the state has allowed us to fall in love with Wisconsin all over again. From Superior to Kenosha; Sturgeon Bay over to Platteville; Delavan (where I grew up) all the way to Hudson; Wausau down to Wauwatosa; Sheboygan over to La Crosse and everywhere in between – this is a remarkable state.
We have multi-generational employers who treat their employees like family.
Our workers embody a world-renowned work ethic.
We are a state blessed with abundant natural resources. No other state in the union is surrounded by two Great Lakes and the greatest river in America. We are filled with fifteen thousand inland lakes.
I love this state. I love the scenery and the attractions, the citizens who live here, and the employers who chose to do business here.
What is failing us is not our people or our places. What is failing us is the expanse of government. But we can do something about that starting today.
We, the people of Wisconsin, have every right to reclaim our rightful place in history. We will make this a Wisconsin we can believe in.
More than 162 years ago, our ancestors believed in the power of hard work and determination. They envisioned a new state with limitless potential.
Now, it is our time to once again seize that potential. We will do so at this turning point in our history by restoring limited government that fosters prosperity for today and for future generations.
Justice… Moderation… Temperance… Frugality… Virtue. These are the values upon which our state was formed and the values that will drive us forward.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless our great state.
Scott Walker is the newly elected governor of Wisconsin.