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Area lawmakers weigh in on State address
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MONROE - On Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker addressed Wisconsin in his seventh State of the State speech in which he outlined support for increased school funding, a cause 51st Assembly Rep. Todd Novak, a Republican, said he stands behind.

"I'm glad to see his commitment to more public school funding," Novak said. "He noted an increase during his address."

Republican Sen. Howard Marklein of the 17th District echoed Walker's sentiment of support for increased school funding in rural areas.

"I liked his commitment to increase funding to K-12 schools," Marklein said. "Especially rural schools. They really struggle. I'm glad he recognizes that."

Walker outlined a plan that Novak said he supports for the most part.

"I like some of what he said and now I want to see the details," Novak said. "The address was a blueprint for how the state should move forward, but right now there are no figures to show how this is going to happen."

Transportation has been a primary issue within the state among lawmakers - namely the way in which to improve road infrastructure. Marklein said he looks forward to finding a solution to these problems. While Walker referenced amounts spent on construction projects and promised the largest increase in aid since the 1990s, Marklein has doubts.

"I have my reservations about how we can address structural issues without raising the revenue," Marklein said.

He added that while the use of less gasoline and declining prices is good for the consumer, it also impacts revenue for the transportation budget. Marklein is the vice-chair of the Committee on Transportation and Veterans Affairs. A variety of options on how to raise revenue can all be considered, he said.

Democratic Rep. Mark Spreitzer of the 45th District and minority caucus chair criticized Walker's comments in a written statement released Tuesday afternoon.

"Even after six years as governor with total Republican control of the Legislature, he still has no answer on how we fill the gaping holes in our transportation infrastructure," Spreitzer said. "After three of his budgets, Wisconsin still has no clear path forward on how we ensure a quality public education for every student in this state."

In his speech, the governor also touched on workforce development. Marklein and Novak both remarked on the lack of jobs fulfilled within their districts. Marklein said there are businesses looking for employees for "good paying jobs" and that he is "optimistic" about "working on that this session."

Novak said in a number of discussions with local businesses, there is "definitely a worker shortage."

District 15 Sen. Janis Ringhand, minority caucus vice-chair for the Democrats, released a statement after the address as well, targeting perceived failures of Walker's administration.

"Wisconsin families ... have trailed the national average for job creation every quarter since Walker took office," Ringhand said. "Incomes are stagnant and falling behind the rest of the country. The wealthy and powerful have gotten more than their fair share from Walker. Now it is time he focus on the rest of us."