Tags: Trump Administration | GOP2016 | Scott Walker | Kleefisch | Wisconsin

Scott Walker Turns Wisconsin Around

Scott Walker Turns Wisconsin Around
 (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 29 March 2016 10:39 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Five years after Republican Gov. Scott Walker enacted huge reforms in Wisconsin, including to pensions and to healthcare plans for public employees, the state has seen new growth.

Along with turning what was a $3.6 billion state deficit in 2011 into a $5.24 billion state surplus today, there have been other benefits from the measure that required many public employees to pay for a portion of their pensions and health care and curtailed collective bargaining in the public sector.

Wisconsin, for example, was able to cut property taxes for the first time in 12 years.

In addition, several sources conclude that more than 100,000 new private sector jobs have relocated or been created in Wisconsin over the past five years.

According to the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal, Wisconsin gained 27,491 private-sector jobs in the 12 months from September 2013 through September 2014. “And our state has been improving our youth apprenticeship program and done a lot to streamline our sixteen technical jobs,” Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Wisconsin’s second-highest elected official, told me during a visit to Washington last week.

Kleefisch added that “the best testimony to Act 10 [the measure signed that became law in 2011] is that Gov. Walker’s Democratic opponent in 2014 [Mary Burke] said she would not repeal it.”

On March 11, 2011, shortly after the Republican-controlled state legislature passed Act 10, angry union leaders and Democratic lawmakers in Madison launched a petition drive that would make Walker and Kleefisch the first governor and lieutenant governor in U.S. history to be recalled.

The following year, the Badger State hosted a special contest that drew financial support for both sides from all fifty states for Walker and in which reporters from such faraway news outlets as the BBC and the venerable French publication Le Figaro.

The Walker-Kleefisch team emerged triumphant by a margin of 53-to-46 percent — larger than that to which they had been elected a year before.

One relatively unpublicized legacy of Act 10 and the enactment of right-to-work in Wisconsin last year has been the severe blows both have dealt the unions.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (which hosted Kleefisch in Washington), pointed out to me that roughly 130,000 union members in Wisconsin “have quit paying union dues since right-to-work said they didn’t have to.”

Estimating that annual dues in most unions are $1,000, Norquist concluded that “you’re talking about $130 million a year that the unions can no longer use to help Democratic candidates.”

Any discussion of Wisconsin usually comes around to Walker himself, who began a bid for the Republican nomination for president last year with a bang and then fizzled as a candidate early on in the race.

“As to what happened to his campaign, I just don’t know,” said Kleefisch, “But please remember that Gov. Walker is a young man and he has several options. You’ll hear from him again, I’m sure.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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Five years after Republican Gov. Scott Walker enacted huge reforms in Wisconsin, including to pensions and to healthcare plans for public employees, the state has seen new growth.
Kleefisch, Wisconsin
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 10:39 AM
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