Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, has set out the blueprint of a state budget plan which bypasses tax increases in favor of spending cuts and borrowing to address an upcoming revenue shortfall.
The plan could be a preview to the fiscal approach he would take should he capture the White House.
According to The New York Times
, Walker's proposed new spending plan could make deep reductions to state universities, merge several state agencies, and end a cap on students' attending private schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers.
"Our plan will use common-sense reforms to create a government that is limited in scope and ultimately more effective, more efficient, and more accountable to the public," Walker told lawmakers and other officials at a speech in Madison, according to the Times.
The proposal has attracted criticism from members of the state university system, which could face cuts of roughly $300 million under Walker's budget and shift control of the system to a "quasi-governmental" authority autonomous from direct state control, The Wall Street Journal
He has also proposed a two-year tuition freeze.
In total, the proposals would amount to about a 13 percent drop next year from current funding levels, the Times said.
The cuts to university funding are reminiscent of the controversial policies he implemented in 2011 to cut collective bargaining rights and increase health and pension costs for public workers.
At the time, the move triggered massive protests and a recall election, which Walker survived, going on to gain overwhelming re-election in 2014.
"Some have raised concerns about this proposed reform," Walker said in prepared remarks for his Tuesday night speech on the budget to lawmakers, according to the Journal. "These are some of the same claims we heard four years ago when our Act 10 reforms were enacted."
On a radio show last week, Walker drew direct comparisons with his plans for public university cuts and his moves to limit the power of public-employee unions, saying both were aimed at restructuring government to control costs, the Journal reported.
The Journal said that the new proposal could boost Walker's prospects in his widely anticipated bid for the GOP nomination. It was reported this week that he has been hiring high-level staff for his leadership committee, CNN
"I know Iowa, and I know the voters in Iowa, and a fight with university professors is certainly not going to hurt him in that state," former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, told the Journal.
Walker also proposes to borrow $1.3 billion for repairs for state roads, sidestepping the idea of tax hikes to raise revenue, the Times reported.
To pass, Walker's proposal would need to get through the state Legislature, both chambers of which are controlled by Republicans.
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