State of the State speeches are a time for governors to tout what they see as their successes and outline their priorities for the next year. You can expect Governor Scott Walker to point out that when he came into office two years ago, the state had a $3.6 billion deficit. Now, it has a $341 million surplus.
Republican strategist Mark Graul expects Walker to talk a lot about job creation and improving the economy, especially through tax cuts. But he doesn't expect specifics.
"State of the State speeches are much more broad and general in nature," Graul said. "I think it'll be thematic. I'll be surprised if there's a lot of gory detail that we're going to see tomorrow night."
Bottom line: Don't expect anything like the collective bargaining battle to come out of the speech.
"Everything I'm hearing is an attempt to be more bipartisan and more moderate," said State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay). He says the governor is sort of in campaign mode. While Walker just won a recall election last year, he will up for re-election again in just two years. Hansen will be listening closely.
"Might not be what he says as much as what he doesn't say as far as moving forward. But I'm going to take him at his word that he's been saying to his colleagues on the Republican side that let's not go the extreme route," Hansen said.
Both sides agree that job creation will be a major part of Walker's speech. Jim Golembeski from the Bay Area Workforce Development Board expects the governor to address the so-called "skills gap," which is basically the lack of qualified workers for certain jobs.
"We do not have the people with the skills we need to fill the jobs that we have. I think this is going to be a major focus," Golembeski said. "I don't have any inside information but I think it's going to be a major focus of his talk."
Walker has also hinted at some type of performance-based funding for education. UW-Green Bay spokesman Christopher Sampson says people at the universities will be watching the speech closely.
"We already have a pretty comprehensive accountability system in place that may or may not match up exactly with what the governor has in mind but I think most people with the university would be confident that we're going to be able to respond and move in the direction that he indicates," Sampson said.
While the State of the State is a major speech, it's really a prelude to the more highly-anticipated budget address. That will is expected next month when Walker will unveil his specific plans for the state budget.
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