MADISON (WITI) -- Gov. Scott Walker has had a busy year -- passing a budget, releasing a book -- and he still has big decisions looming. The Governor sat down with FOX6's Mike Lowe to talk about the Kenosha casino decision, and the possibility of getting rid of the state's income tax.
Mike Lowe: "Thank you very much, again, for joining us. I think it's safe to say that maybe the biggest decision of the year that you've made is one to postpone a big decision. Where do things stand with the Kenosha casino proposal right now?"
Gov. Walker:" It's one of those where the federal government took about 9 years to approve the current application. We're not going to take that long. I legally could have up to a year-and-a-half. What I'm probably going to do is take a good chunk of the beginning months of 2014. Have our Secretary of Administration, Mike Hubesch, who has been working with all of the tribes try and sort things out."
Mike Lowe: "Are you surprised at how complicated the decision has become, given that you set out three very simple criteria and you could have said, 'okay, we didn't have all of the tribes on board. That's it. That's my decision.'"
Gov. Walker: "Yeah. It was one of those where I didn't want to walk away from the excitment of the potential for more jobs. I think there's a tremendous opportunity. It's heightened my interest and the public's because of Hard Rock's participation in this, but there obviously are some legitimate concerns and -- not only from the consensus standpoint -- but there are legitimatize concerns with the compact provisions and what they could mean for the budget."
Mike Lowe: "We're getting to the point where these discussions will be framed in the sense of 'we have what Governor Walker says and what a potential opponent says.' Mary Burke says she would have done things differently on this and that you put yourself in a box by laying out the criteria -- specifically no new net gaming. How do you respond to that?"
Gov. Walker: "I think the problem goes back to Mary Burke's old boss, Jim Doyle, in that it would be a lot easier to move forward on this if he hadn't negotiated some of the compacts that lead to some of the problems we're trying to avoid."
Mike Lowe:"You've had a couple of big issues swirling around the Capitol involving the Native American tribes. One for them involves the touchy issue of Native American mascots and symbols being used on schools and sports teams. You have a decision to make on that as well. If you don't decide, it simply becomes law. The bills that were passed that make it harder to challenge a Native American nickname. What are you going to do on that?"
Gov. Walker: "I'll make a decision by the end of the week, but I'm not going to punt. That's not my style. I'm either going to sign or veto it. It's a careful balancing act. I meet with all the tribes each quarter, which is more than my predecessors, and each quarter I go to different sites. I have a good working relationship with all 11 tribes in the state of Wisconsin. The last meeting -- as you can imagine -- quite a lot of discussion coming from the leaders there, so I have great empathy for that. I can understand the concerns that they have, but I have to balance that with the tenants of free speech in the U.S. Constitution and the legal implications that free speech means free speech regardless of whether we think it's good speech."
Mike Lowe: "That's where Steve Nass makes his argument saying the government is getting involved in legislating matters of taste. You hear from Native Americans and they say this represents discrimination -- two very different ways of looking at it. Which side do you think you're falling on?"
Gov. Walker: "That's why I'm looking through all of this. I recognize the sensitivity no matter what I do with the legislation, I'm committed to working with tribal leaders to make sure greater attention is drawn to the concerns they have about the words that are used for nicknames and mascots and what it means for our fellow citizens. The problem is from a free speech standpoint, there is a legitimate concern that I believe goes all the way up to the U.S. Constitution."
Mike Lowe: Your administration has floated a trial balloon -- getting rid of the state income tax. That, I think, would be very popular with everyone who pays income tax in the state, but the question is, is it feasible? What happens when you lose that revenue?"
Gov. Walker: "Beyond just chipping away as we've done over the past few years, we cut taxes a 1.5 dollars, property taxes have gone down, income taxes have gone down, but in terms of an economic impact, what I'd like to see -- is there an even better way beyond just cutting taxes? Is there a more effective way that we could help stimulate the economy of the state? States like Texas -- that have no income tax -- are routinely among the top job creators in this country by far. There are a number of factors, but that's one of the top factors that's appealing to me."
Mike Lowe: "Your jobs creation agency WEDC has come under criticism -- and Mary Burke, to use the woman who looks like your likely opponent -- if you decide to run again ... do you have any news to break on that, by the way?"
Gov. Walker: "Not until the Spring."
Mike Lowe: "Not until the Spring, you won't announce. If you do indeed again run for re-election, and she is your opponent, she says the roll out of WEDC is comparable to the roll out of Obamacare. How do you respond to that?"
Gov. Walker: "I think there's no comparison. If she wants to hang her hat on Obamacare, I'll gladly hand my hat on WEDC."
Mike Lowe: "Well, the point she's making is they're both disastrous -- is what she's trying to say."
Gov. Walker: "No. I think -- well -- if you're solely focused on administration, but in terms of you talk to front line job creators, if you talk to people like the M7 and economic development specialists across the state with employers creating jobs, you will hear over and over the good work of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Many of those loans and the challenges that the new corporation inherited come from the old administration that she was a part of."
Mike Lowe: "To go back to that previous answer -- why not say that you're running? Why not announce that right now?"
Gov. Walker: "The reason for me is simple. The Legislature is in session through the Sprig. I'm focused 100 percent on being governor. I don't want any distractions from the Legislature about campaigns or anything else like that. We'll have plenty of time to talk about campaigns after the session is done this Spring."