TERROR

Walker says Wisconsin can be leader in government efficiency as he eyes presidential run

  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker acknowledges people in the gallery during Governor's State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker acknowledges people in the gallery during Governor's State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shakes hands with Rep. Scott Allen, right, R-Waukesha, before the Governor's State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shakes hands with Rep. Scott Allen, right, R-Waukesha, before the Governor's State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, center front, addresses a joint session of the state Legislature during the Governor's State of the State speech in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, center front, addresses a joint session of the state Legislature during the Governor's State of the State speech in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)  (The Associated Press)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is eyeing a presidential run, argued in his State of the State speech Tuesday that his home state can be a leader in making government more efficient and better-working, while giving few details about plans for solving a looming budget shortfall that could sidetrack or delay his tax cut promises.

The speech comes amid growing speculation about whether Walker will enter what is expected to be a crowded field of GOP candidates for president. Walker used his State of the State to contrast what he says is success in Wisconsin versus dysfunction in Washington, while also defending his first gubernatorial term. He pointed out that unemployment is lower now than when he took office, while taxes have been cut by $2 billion.

"Some in Washington believe government should play a growing role in our lives and rarely question its expense," Walker said. "Others have such disdain for government that they attempt to keep it from working at all. Instead, we have a chance to lead here in Wisconsin."

Walker is proposing merging two agencies charged with economic development into one. He's also proposing merging several agencies that oversee financial institutions and professional services.

"As taxpayers, we should demand that the functions that government must reasonably do, should do well," he said. "We should demand a government that is more effective, more efficient, and more accountable to the public."

Walker also dipped into foreign affairs, calling on Republicans and Democrats to stand together to denounce terrorists attacks like those recently in France against the newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

"We need to proclaim that an attack against freedom-loving people anywhere is an attack against us all," Walker said. "And we will not allow it."

Walker, who said he's seriously considering a presidential run, recently hired a veteran national political consultant and he's scheduled to join other potential GOP hopefuls at a conservative event in Iowa later this month.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP .