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(AP) Gov. Scott Walker plans to announce he will create a new task force to eliminate waste and fraud in the state. In remarks prepared for his second State of the State speech Wednesday night, Walker touts a commission he formed last year to identify waste, fraud and abuse in state government. He says the commission identified more than $400 million in savings. The governor says eliminating waste, fraud and abuse is one of his top priorities. He says he will form the Waste, Fraud and Abuse Elimination Task Force and ask it to follow through on the first commission's report
(AP) A new poll shows ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson has the highest name recognition and the most favorable ratings in Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race. But the Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows the public is largely unfamiliar with the candidates who want to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl. The poll shows 49 percent think favorably of Thompson compared to 31 percent who don't. Other Republicans include former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, who has a 27 percent favorable rating and 18 percent unfavorable. Fifteen percent view Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald favorably, while 18 percent were unfavorable. Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin had a 23 percent favorable rating compared to 21 percent unfavorable. The 701 registered voters were polled by phone Jan. 19-22. The poll has a 3.8 percentage-point margin of error.
(AP) All 9,500 inmates in Minnesota's prison system were on a roughly 24 lockdown while authorities conducted a takedown of alleged members of the Native Mob gang. Authorities say the prisoners were confined to their cells from 4 a.m. Tuesday until 5 a.m. Wednesday and weren't allowed outside contact. Department of Corrections spokesman John Schadl says the lockdown involved all state prisons. U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Jeanne Cooney says a recently unsealed indictment charges 24 alleged gang members with conspiracy to participate in racketeering and other charges. Some defendants were already in custody on other charges and had to be re-arrested. But six were arrested Tuesday. Six more remain at large. Schadl says the lockdown protected the safety of those making arrests and ensured word about the takedown didn't get out.
(AP) Unemployment rates either dropped or held their own in nine of Wisconsin's 12 metro areas in December. That is according to a report released Wednesday by the state Department of Workforce Development. Of the state's 31 largest cities, the report says unemployment rates either dropped or remained unchanged in 28 of them.
However, unemployment rates increased in 44 of the state's 72 counties. Racine had the highest unemployment rate of any city at 11.2 percent, down slightly from 11.8 percent in November. Beloit was second at 11.1 percent. Door County had the highest county unemployment rate at 11.7 percent followed by Bayfield County at 11.3 percent. In the larger metro areas, only Appleton, Eau Claire and La Crosse had increases in unemployment rates.
President Barack Obama, in a speech that amounted to a nationally televised kickoff to his re-election campaign, presented the country with a populist economic vision last night. And in attendance at the joint session of Congress was Congressman Ron Kind. The La Crosse Democrat talked with WIZM news after the speech and he said jobs and the economy have to come first.
Kind said said the No Child Left Behind Act has to be fixed and he agreed on some facets of the health care reform law. Kind says the biggest thing that needs to happen is lawmakers from both sides of the table have got to come together to work on some of the nations's biggest problems.