|Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker|
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s final budget contains necessary reforms, like removal of prevailing wage rules from government contract projects, which frees up the bidding process, saving taxpayer dollars. The budget cuts the University of Wisconsin budget by $250 million to allow more freedom in administration. The budget lays off 700 public workers, whose salaries, pensions, and benefits create heavy costs on taxpayers. More voucher funding will expand school choice, and grant students greater access to private or parochial education.
One controversial element of the budget, a series of amendments to limit public access, raised concerns from lawmakers, media outlets, and interest groups left and right. The Chicago Tribune detailed that those amendments to Wisconsin’s open records law would have limited public access to the state legislative process.
One lawmaker defended the changes to allow state agencies and public workers to engage in free discussion of policy. Besides, cities and school boards routinely resort to closed executive sessions to conduct real estate purchases and labor negotiations. Lawmakers also justifiably faulted the need to control rising, onerous (politically motivated) records requests. To the governor’s credit, his office announced their connection with this unpopular proposal and acquiesced to its removal.
This controversy cannot hide the governor’s successes for this legislative session: expedited production for a tarsands pipeline, loosened restrictions on payday lenders, expanded school vouchers, respect for gun rights, labor reforms, an in-state college tuition freeze, and ongoing tax and spending cuts.
Walker’s legislative successes are the perfect launchpad for his Presidential campaign.