MADISON, Wis. — After two years of unprecedented partisan political strife under their governance, a stagnant economy and record cuts to public education, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans enter the new legislative session claiming in media reports that they will pursue a moderate political agenda.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said, “Two years ago we got the same song and dance from Gov. Walker and the Republican legislative majorities, but they put raw politics and power grabs before all else at very step of the way. Their actions offer precious little reason to believe them this time.”
Ross noted that in his inaugural address, Gov. Walker promised to be a leader for “all of the people in this state of Wisconsin” and vowed to focus on jobs, improve public education and protect the state’s natural resources.
Yet, mere days later, Walker was caught on tape revealing his political strategy to “divide and conquer” to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks as he and the GOP legislature stripped 175,000 state and local employees of their rights in the workplace. They followed up with enacting the largest cuts to public education in state history in his biennial budget and narrowly failing in efforts to rewrite state environmental regulations and clean air and water protections on behalf of an out-of-state mining company wanting to develop a pit mine in an environmentally sensitive area of Northern Wisconsin.
On his signature promise, creating 250,000 jobs over four years, Gov. Walker has made precious little progress. While the national economy staged a recovery, Wisconsin under Walker ranked as one of the worst states in the nation for new job creation adding a mere 37,000. In addition, Gov. Walker and Republican’s signature jobs initiative, creation of a quasi-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), has been mired in scandal and missteps, violating guidelines in issuing grants and loans, losing track of millions in state taxpayer funded loans and even failing to follow basic business practices like conducting a comprehensive audit.
Ross commented, “On issue after issue Gov. Walker has failed to deliver. His WEDC has come up short and failed to deliver on his promises of new jobs, his commitment to education was the largest cuts to public schools in state history and environmental protection seems to be more about protecting the ability of corporations to defile it.”
Republican legislative majorities more than did their part sowing partisan rancor, for example requiring Republican legislators to sign secrecy agreements regarding their gerrymandering of state congressional and legislative districts to protect their jobs and majority status. Their redrawn legislative districts helped the GOP win a Senate majority and add Assembly seats, despite receiving fewer votes than Democrats.
“The record of the last two years clearly shows that Gov. Walker, his administration and lapdog legislative majorities are either not telling the truth or not competent enough to deliver on their promises. Neither alternative suggest their latest promises are anything but empty,” concluded Ross.