The union-busting reforms that have pushed Wisconsin to national attention are working and the proof came in the recall elections this week that reaffirmed Republican control of the state Senate, Gov. Scott Walker tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
But if voters had gone to the polls just a couple of months ago, the results would probably have been different, he admitted, as the effects of his policies had not had time to go into effect.
“Every day, every week and every month that goes by, there’s another story about a school that’s turned the corner, where they actually saved so much money with our reforms that they can hire more teachers, lower the classroom size, set money aside for more pay,” he said.
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Walker said it’s not just in smaller cities such as Fond du Lac, New Berlin or Wauwatosa where his own two children go to public school, but in Milwaukee too, people are seeing the benefits.
“City leaders early this year, attacked us for the budget reforms,” Walker said. But just this week those same people have admitted that they will have a minimum net savings of $11 million this year in Milwaukee, he added.
“What we see is, over time, what once was viewed as a negative has now become a positive, and the more time goes by, the more the public will clearly see that those reforms are working.”
Walker said he when he went to Kenosha County for an election day function he found himself surrounded by as many Democrats as Republicans.
“When we are doing things that attract and grow jobs in our state, people want to be there,” he said.
Walker said his policies helped create 39,000 new jobs in the state in his first six months in office, double the national average. He had pledged to create a total of 250,000 during his full term and he said he was ahead of target.
“Very clearly for us, the voters affirmed on Tuesday what they told us last November. They said they wanted a government, at least in Wisconsin, that focused on jobs and focused on fixing the financial mess we inherited, and we did just that.”
In Tuesday’s elections, Democrats snagged two Republican seats, but they needed three to take control of the Senate. Walker said the two seats that went blue were expected.
“But you look at all the other races – the other four – Republicans, particularly Republican senators who reaffirmed their commitment to the reforms we put in place, won.
“Two of those senators won by big margins, the other two …actually won by a larger percentage now than they did at the last election.”
Two Democrats, who were among the group that fled the state to deny the Senate a quorum to pass the Walker plan earlier this year face recalls themselves on Tuesday. Walker said the race in Kenosha is virtually a lost cause for Republicans, but the other in the northeastern part of the state will be close.
“There is a real shot that Kim Simac might win that election. But it all boils down to whether or not she can have the same impact that the four senators had this last Tuesday.
“They had to get beyond the attack ads, get beyond the personal attacks and get to the point that the reforms in Wisconsin are working and if voters want those reforms to continue they need to send lawmakers to Madison who are going to focus on that, who are going to think more about the next generation than they do about the next election.”
He said an estimated $30-$35 million was poured into the recall elections by outside, pro-union groups pushing the Democratic candidates. But in the end Wisconsin voters were not swayed.
“More than anything, on Wednesday morning the people of this state were happy, not just because of who won, but they were happy because the elections were over and they didn’t have to be bombarded with hour after hour of negative attacks,” he said.
“You had people who wanted to come in from Washington and New York and other places to try to determine the future of the state of Wisconsin.
Thankfully the majority of voters said they want to make the decision.
“It was a lesson for other places around the country that in the end you need to listen to the interests of middle-class taxpayers in your own community and not let people come in and try to bully you from somewhere else.”
He said the results of Tuesday’s votes will probably put the kibosh on plans to make him face a recall election next year. But if it comes, he is confident he can survive.
“If I continue to do things every day I am in office, that makes it easier for people in the private sector to create more jobs and put the people of our state back to work, I have no doubt whether there’s an election in 2012 or 2014, we’re going to do well with the voters, because what I hear overwhelmingly is they want help with jobs.”
And looking further into the future, he accepted that people are seeing him as a potential presidential candidate one day.
“I’ll be judged in my state and, I suppose, ultimately by anybody else, by how effective I am at helping the people of our state in creating 250,000 jobs.”
He said what he tries to do is provide leadership, particularly in times of crisis.
“We need courage and leadership in our statehouses and in the halls of Congress now more than ever and if in some small way our success here helps inspire others to be courageous and do things more about the long term than about the short term, I am certainly happy to help out with that cause.
“But I’ll let the pundits decide what that means beyond that.”
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