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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker

One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government. I also frequently provide updates on Facebook (Governor Scott Walker) and Twitter (@govwalker).  Please feel free to share this update with your family, friends, and others who may be interested in state government operations.


Remembering the Victims of Sandy Hook Elementary

The country continued to mourn this week for the lives lost in Connecticut last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Stories of heroism and of lives lost all too soon continue to emerge in the wake of this terrible tragedy.  Tonette and I were shocked and saddened by this horrific shooting.  We continue to pray for all of the victims and for their families, that they might find healing during this unimaginable heartache.


Talk with Walker

Last month, I launched my statewide Talk with Walker tour to share with Wisconsinites my top five priorities for strengthening our state’s future and to listen to your ideas about how we can keep moving Wisconsin forward.
 
Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch informed me that our revenue estimates show us up $1.5 billion for the FY13-15 budget. For the first time in state history, we will be able to put money into our rainy day fund two years in a row.   We are in a strong fiscal position as a state and this will enable us to invest wisely in the future of Wisconsin. 
 
In the past few months, I have outlined five priorities for strengthening our economy and ensuring we continue to provide the best education possible to our children.
 
Creating Jobs: Prior to 2010, Wisconsin lost over 100,000 jobs.  Since 2010, we have begun to add jobs and there is growing optimism among job creators. There is still a lot to do, but I am confident that we will continue to build on our successes and the pro-growth environment will continue to strengthen our existing companies and attract business to Wisconsin.
 
Developing Our Workforce:  Skilled professionals are needed in manufacturing and construction.  From 2012-2015, it is estimated over 63,000 skilled trade, construction, and manufacturing jobs will be available in Wisconsin, but we will need trained professionals to fill them.  We need to invest in training skilled individuals to meet this demand for high-paying skill workers in the state.
 
Transforming Education: We must provide every child in Wisconsin access to a quality education, regardless of their zip code.  Our reforms allowed our children’s education decisions to be made at the local level.  This allowed each community to invest in their children’s education based on their local needs and unique circumstances.  Our reforms saved school districts hundreds of thousands of dollars on health insurance, enabling communities to invest more in their children’s education. 
 
Reforming Government:  Over the past two years, we have listened to state workers and tax payers to find ways to reform and streamline government.  For example, by reducing government office space and eliminating duplicate services, we have made progress in our goal to make government more streamlined, while still providing quality services to our citizens.
 
Investing in Infrastructure:  Our state depends on having strong and updated infrastructure.  Before my time as governor, infrastructure funding was used for other parts of the budget.  It is important to have a constructive discussion as a state about the future of our infrastructure.
 
These priorities will be outlined in my upcoming budget and I look forward to traveling around the state to hear from all of you about how we can improve the future of Wisconsin together.  I am always glad to receive feedback, please feel free to contact me via govgeneral@wisconsin.gov or 608-266-1212.

Get to Know a Cabinet Member: Dennis G. Smith

As Governor, one of the most important tasks I have is to appoint and communicate with leaders in each state agency.  These leaders, called secretaries, ensure agencies run smoothly and efficiently as they operate state government and implement government reforms.  For a few weeks, in lieu of the “Just Ask the Governor” section, I will be highlighting a cabinet secretary and providing a brief overview of the department he or she oversees.  I hope these updates will provide you with practical information about state government operations, especially as we head into the next budget cycle. 

Dennis G. Smith was appointed by Governor Scott Walker to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health Services (DHS) on January 3, 2011. 
 
The Department of Health Services is committed to the mission of economic prosperity and quality of life for the people of Wisconsin.  The Department administers an array of services, including, regulation and licensing of health care facilities, Medicaid services, long-term care services, mental health services, services for people with development and physical disabilities, services for low-income seniors, as well as children and youth services.  DHS also includes programs that address environmental and occupational health, family and community health, emergency medical services and injury prevention, chronic disease prevention and health promotion, and communicable diseases.   DHS has a biennial budget of $18 billion.  DHS also has 5,574 employees around the state to administer quality care for the residents of Wisconsin.
 
DHS also operates three centers for individuals with developmental disabilities: the Northern Wisconsin Center, the Central Wisconsin Center, and the Southern Wisconsin Center.  All of the centers provide residential care and treatment, short term care, evaluation and diagnosis, and identifies supports in the community so the individual can live and succeed in the community of their choice.
 
The Department operates four mental health facilities throughout the state: Mendota Mental Health Institute, Winnebago Mental Health Institute, Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, and the Wisconsin Resource Center.  Together, DHS and local community mental health departments are able to provide care and rehabilitation for people with mental illness and substance abuse problems.
 
Secretary Smith previously served as Director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under Secretaries Tommy G. Thompson and Michael O. Leavitt.  Smith served on various staff positions in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.  In previous state roles, he also served as Medicaid Director for the Commonwealth of Virginia and as Chief of Planning for the California Department of Developmental Services.
 
Smith has a Master's Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University and completed his undergraduate work at Illinois State University.  Smith and his wife, Laurel, have four daughters.


It has been a pleasure communicating with you. It is an honor to serve as your Governor and represent the residents of Wisconsin.

Sincerely,


Governor Scott Walker

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