LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- Governor Scott Walker said the future of the Republican Party is still bright -- despite a loss in the 2012 Presidential election.
The Governor said in an exclusive interview with News 19 that he is encouraged there are currently 30 states across the country with Republican Governors. "You've got 30 states where Republican Governors can push real reforms," Walker said. "If you look back at welfare reform in Wisconsin, that came out of Tommy Thompson. If you look at tax reform, that came from Ronald Reagan when he was Governor of California, and there's also been real reform here in our state recently in terms of budgetary reform."
"So we can help lead the country by doing big, bold reforms in our states," Walker said.
The Governor also said he believes reforms such as those will carry the Republican Party from regional to national prominence. He's confident his party can take back the White House in 2016. "One of the things I've said to Republicans since the election is they need to look at state leaders and even local leaders, like county executives, who are doing big, bold courageous things at the local and state level and then pattern that," Walker said. "Just being a naysayer, being someone who's against the President, isn't enough. It isn't inspiring to most Americans."
"I think what most people want is an alternative," Walker said. "They want people who are optimistic, relevant and ready to take on those big tasks and I think Republican Governors across the country are showing they're up to those tasks."
The Governor also said he's not shying away from a being a national surrogate for his party.
Walker has appeared on networks like CNN and FOX News in the last couple of weeks.
He also stumped heavily for Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney throughout 2012.
But the Governor said he doesn't find it difficult balancing the tasks of promoting his party's agenda on a national stage and running the state of Wisconsin.
"As a Governor, unlike in the US Senate or US Congress, results really matter," Walker said. "If I continue to do big, bold things that help the people of my state, the hard working taxpayers in Wisconsin, it's going to continue to drive the agenda at the national level."
"If I fail, that would diminish whatever influence I have at the national level," the Governor added. "So the nice thing is that as chief executive of the state, the buck really stops with me," Walker said. "If I can continue to do things that are big, bold, help the people of the state and provide more freedom and more prosperity, that will not only be good for the people here in Wisconsin, but also will encourage others to look at what we're doing and broaden our influence on the national debate."
Walker acknowledged the divisive June, 2012 recall election, along with his decision to strip most public workers of collective bargaining rights, have also helped to propel him onto the national stage. He said that comes with added responsibility. "What I've said to my cabinet over the last few years is because of what we're doing and because of how we've come through (the recall election) even better than in the 2010 election, people are looking at us," Walker said. "For good or for bad, people are watching what we're doing here in Wisconsin so what I've said to my cabinet is we now have a responsibility to live up to that and we've got an opportunity to have an influence."
The Governor will outline his proposal for the state's next, two-year budget before a joint session of the legislature February 20.
He said in last month's State of the State speech the proposal will include ways to create jobs, develop Wisconsin's workforce, reform government, transform education and improve the state's infrastructure.
The state is running a small surplus of about $340-million.
Walker said most of that will go towards a tax cut for middle-income households.
But Walker added he's still confident all five of his goals can be accomplished during the duration of the next budget. "We're looking at entitlement reform, overall government reform and being more effective in how we use our dollars," Walker said. "We're trying to drive more people off dependency on the government by empowering them to control their own lives through jobs in the private sector. I believe that leads to more freedom and prosperity and that's a goal we have for all of us."
"It's not enough to say we're going to take the surplus and plow it into these priorities," Walker said. "We're also going to do things to make sure we can continue to do them and continue to have a strong economy."
"That means more revenues and opportunities in the future to do more big things two years from now," the Governor said.
For more on the Governor's goal to "transform education" through the state's next, two-year budget, check out Wednesday's story featuring Governor Scott Walker and state rep. Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska).
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