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Gov. Walker stops in New Richmond to talk

Bosch Packaging Technologies in New Richmond hosted a "Talk with Walker" event with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Thursday. Production stopped at the plant for about an hour to accommodate the gathering.

Gov. Scott Walker stopped at Bosch Packaging Technologies in New Richmond Thursday, Dec. 13, for an hour-long visit to the local manufacturer.

The stop was one in a series of what Walker's office calls a "Talk with Walker" event. Bosch employees were gathered in chairs on the production floor where Walker had "a conversation with employees about the future of Wisconsin."

After a brief introduction from Pres Lawhon, president of the confectionery - food business unit in North America, Walker outlined five priorities that his administration is focusing on for the 2013 budget process.

Walker then spent time answering questions from Bosch employees who attended the event. He explained that he wanted to gather input from Wisconsin residents and businesses about ideas and priorities that they may have when it comes to Wisconsin state government.

Walker said his priorities are:

1. Creating jobs.

2. Developing the state's workforce.

3. Transforming education.

4. Reforing government.

5. Making investments in the state's infrastructure.

After explaining each priority, Walker opened the floor to any and all questions.

"Feel free to chime in," he encouraged.

Responding to a question from a Bosch employee who is also a union member, Walker said he was not going to push for any "Right to Work" legislation similar to the one recently approved in Michigan. "Right to Work" efforts limit the power of unions and don't allow unions to force employees to join or compel them to pay dues.

Walker said he didn't want to pursue any hot-button topics that would pull the attention away from his top five priorities.

"That would be a large distraction from the five priorities we have," he commented.

During the upcoming session of the legislature, Walker said he would also encourage all legislators to stay away from issues like same-day voter registration and immigration that would detract from the more important business at hand -- turning the state's economy around.

He told the crowd he'd learned a lesson over the past two years, referring to the protests that erupted after the Act 10 legislation was signed into law. Walker said the firestorm that ensued, along with the recall efforts statewide, didn't serve the state well. He said employers were hesitant to expand or hire more employees because of the uncertainty in the state, and employees were frustrated by the mess.

"I don't want to go through that again," Walker said.

During the upcoming legislative session, Walker said he wanted unions to be "partners" in the effort to strengthen Wisconsin's economy and map a course for a brighter future.

Other questions from the audience centered around economic development efforts, educational excellence and reciprocity agreements between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

For a complete story on Walker's visit, see next week's New Richmond News.