worker working

Scott Walker’s Record on Working Families Issues

Scott Walker’s Policies Have Been a Disaster for Working Families in Wisconsin

Scott Walker’s policies have been a disaster for working families in Wisconsin, consistently favoring tax breaks that benefit the wealthy and corporations at the expense of Wisconsin families.

Walker’s strategy has been to reward campaign donors and special interests while cutting millions and imposing additional burdens on Wisconsinites who rely on public programs, such as Badgercare and unemployment compensation.

Walker has also opposed an increase in the minimum wage, rolled back enforcement of equal pay protections, and kicked thousands of Wisconsinites off of the state’s Badgercare health insurance program. Meanwhile, in his most recent budget, Walker has proposed making recipients of public aid submit to drug testing for eligibility, a move that has been ruled unconstitutional elsewhere but will play to the extremists in the governor’s base as he ramps up his bid for the presidency.

Walker has repeatedly refused to accept federal Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin, hurting low-income workers...

“The state would stay the course and turn down federal money to expand Wisconsin's health programs for the needy, under Gov. Scott Walker's 2015 budget proposal....In 2013, the Republican governor rejected taking federal incentives to expand the state's Medicaid programs, saying the deal risked entangling the state in exponentially growing future costs. Democrats say that Walker's approach means that state taxpayers today are paying more to cover fewer people in the BadgerCare Plus health plan. At the heart of the issue lies the question of how Wisconsin should handle the federal Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, which sought to persuade states to add health coverage by promising to pay all of their short-term and most of their long-term costs to do so. Walker has declined that offer, part of his strategy to limit the state's involvement in the Affordable Care Act, and his 2015-'17 budget proposal would continue that approach. [, 02/19/2015]

As paid sick leave battles continue in states, Wisconsin’s law was singled out as “most notable”

Arguably, the most notable preemption law was passed in Wisconsin in 2011, when legislators approved legislation that repealed Milwaukee’s sick leave law—even though it had passed by ballot initiative in 2008 with 69% support—and prohibited local ordinances from requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said the law would guarantee regulatory consistency. “Patchwork government mandates stifle job creation and economic opportunity,” he said. “This law gives employers the flexibility they need to put people back to work and that makes Wisconsin a more attractive place to do business.” [Fortune, 02/11/2015]

Gov Walker has failed to support a state bill allowing refinancing of student loans

Recent graduate Teri Crabb, 50, stood outside the building where Walker spoke with signs decrying high student loan debts and a low minimum wage. Crabb graduated in May with more than $50,000 in debt and has not been able to find a job. She said she returned to college as an adult because she was tired of working minimum wage jobs. Does that not speak to our state's economy?" she said Walker did not speak specifically about student loan debt during his campaign stop, but he did say he prefers controlling tuition over government-subsidized financial aid." [Green Bay Press Gazette, 09/10/2014]

Walker called minimum wage hike a “political stunt”

Gov. Scott Walker lashed out Thursday against Democratic proposals to raise the minimum wage, calling them a “political grandstanding stunt” that will kill jobs. Walker was addressing a friendly crowd at a meeting of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, a group that opposes increasing the minimum wage. Democrats both nationally and in Wisconsin and other states are pushing for increasing it. The proposal is going nowhere in Wisconsin, where Republicans who control the Senate and Assembly have it bottled up in committee. But that didn’t stop Walker from speaking out against the idea. “I think it is nothing more than a misguided political stunt,” he said of Democrats’ efforts to raise the wage. Doing that will only lead to the elimination of entry-level jobs and cut pay for other workers, Walker said. “If you want to put a buzz saw on the economic recovery we’ve seen in this state, you just start piling on regulations like increasing the minimum wage,” Walker said. Later, he called it “little more than a political grandstanding stunt” advanced by people who want to claim they’re helping workers when they’re really not.

[Associated Press, 01/23/2014]

Walker’s Health Care Plan Kicked 77,000 adults off the Badgercare Program

Legislation approved by Walker and GOP lawmakers requires some 77,000 adults in BadgerCare with incomes above the poverty line — $23,550 for a family of four — to be dropped from that state Medicaid coverage....Democrats note that some GOP governors have extended Medicaid coverage more broadly in their states by taking extra federal money available for that health program under the law. Expanding coverage in that way would save the state up to $119 million through June 2015, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.Elizabeth Schinderle, a spokeswoman for CMS in Chicago, made the same point Thursday. "This policy is unfortunately not the long-term solution we would like to see. As a result of the governor's decision to not expand Medicaid coverage, many people in Wisconsin will not have access to affordable coverage because of state-imposed limits on enrollment. We urge Wisconsin to fix this avoidable gap in coverage by expanding Medicaid and taking advantage of generous federal funding," she said in an email.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 01/09/2014]

Nearly 15,000 Tell Walker and WMC: "Respect Wisconsin Women"

Nearly 15,000 individuals have voiced their opposition to the anti-woman agenda of Gov. Walker and the state big business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, signing an online petition telling them to, “Respect Wisconsin Women.” EMILY's List, the nation's largest resource for women in politics, and One Wisconsin Now sponsored the effort.

[One Wisconsin Now, 11/09/2013]

Gov. Scott Walker Jets to New York to Hob Nob With Billionaires

Today Gov. Scott Walker “jets” to New York to attend a fundraiser, hosted by Woody Johnson, billionaire owner of the New York Jets football team, for the benefit of the Republican National Committee. Meanwhile back in Wisconsin, news outlets are reporting that the Walker administration is mailing letters to approximately 92,000 Wisconsin citizens notifying them that, because of provisions in his 2013-15 state budget, they will be losing their state BadgerCare health insurance.

[One Wisconsin Now, 09/22/2013]

Gov. Walker vs. 'I Have a Dream'

Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream Speech” calling for racial equality and economic justice on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted how the “divide and conquer” politics of Gov. Walker and the policies he and the GOP-led legislature have pursued are universally antithetical to Dr. King's message.

[One Wisconsin Now, 08/27/2013]

Walker claimed his “boldest” reform of 2013 budget was forcing food stamp recipients to attend work...

Walker went on to say, however, that the “biggest, boldest reform” in the budget was new work requirements for people on food stamps. Able-bodied adults must spend at least 20 hours a week working or getting trained for a job, or they will be limited to three months of benefits over three years. Walker described this as a kindness. “We say it’s time to get the training, and the access to training so that when a job becomes available, you are ready to get in the game,” he said.

[Associated Press, 07/01/2013]

Walker's Choice: Millionaires or the Middle Class

As Gov. Scott Walker ponders his vetoes to the 2013 state budget, a $30 million tax break with no income limits, worth up to $10,000, for parents already sending their children to private schools should be on the list, according to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. With a one trillion dollar student loan debt crisis hurting Wisconsin families and dragging down the economy, increasing state financial aid for those who are eligible or tax credits for tuition and interest on student loans would instead be a better deal for Wisconsin students and middle class families.

[One Wisconsin Now, 06/25/2013]

Wisconsin Working Families and Middle Class Lose Big as Top GOP Legislative Leaders Flip-Flop Way to Budget...

In his 2010 campaign, Gov. Walker signaled support for a bill to ban the legislature from voting after 10pm because, “… nothing good happens after midnight. That's even more true in politics.” According to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross it's too bad for the middle class and working families of Wisconsin that top legislative Republicans didn't take their Governor's advice. Instead, they signed-off on a two year budget deal in the middle of the night that includes a flat-tax scheme that overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy and a statewide expansion of the unaccountable private school voucher program.

[One Wisconsin Now, 06/04/2013]

Advocates said Walker’s 2013-15 budget harmed working families’ child care access

“Scott Walker’s proposed $273 million budget for Wisconsin Shares, the child-care subsidy program for low-income families, threatens to make it even harder for providers to give quality care to the children most in need of a good start preparing for school, say child-care providers and quality care advocates. Under Walker’s proposed 2013-2015 budget, the Department of Children and Families will continue to reduce by up to 5 percent Wisconsin Shares subsidies paid to child-care providers who rate below the mid-point on YoungStar, a five-level quality rating scale. State subsidies for care of children from income-eligible families — frozen since 2006 — already fall short of covering the cost of providing care, advocates say”.

[Capital Times, 03/26/2013]

Walker Rejected Federal Expansion of Medicaid, Costing Taxpayers More for Less

If the federal government keeps its current commitments, Gov. Scott Walker's plan for avoiding a full expansion of the BadgerCare program under the federal health care law would cost Wisconsin taxpayers roughly $250 million more through 2020, under preliminary estimates by the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office. In addition to lower state costs, the full expansion of the Medicaid health program would also cover tens of thousands more people than the Republican governor's proposal.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/16/2013]

Walker’s 2013-15 Budget Included Provisions Hurting Workers, Creating More Tax Breaks

Walker’s 2013-15 Budget included Provisions that:
  • Made it harder for workers to access unemployment compensation benefits by reducing the number of allowable reasons to quit a job from 18 to 9.
  • Expanded the junk mail sales tax exemption created an income tax break for private school tuition (up to $10,000 per pupil), which is estimated to cost the state $30 million per year
  • Created an income tax break for private school tuition (up to $10,000 per pupil), which is estimated to cost the state $30 million per year
[2013 Assembly Bill 40, 01/01/2013]

Walker Signed a Bill That Benefited Wealthy Instead of Providing Tax Relief for the Middle Class

Provisions of the measure included:
  • For purposes of the state individual income tax, reduces the rate of taxation on the bottom income tax bracket from 4.4% to 4.0%.
  • Replaces the levy limit applicable to technical college districts with a revenue limit, and appropriates $406 million in 2014-15, and an annual sum based on a calculation thereafter, to the Wisconsin Technical College System for distribution to technical college districts in lieu of revenues from property taxes.
  • Allows certain tax credits to be used to offset liability under the alternative minimum tax.
  • Authorizes corporate tax filers to carry forward business losses for up to 20 years.
[2013 SB 1 January 2014 Special Session, 01/01/2013]

Walker failed to support a plan to address the growing student loan debt crisis

The "Higher Ed, Lower Debt" bills, 2013 SB 376 & 2013 AB 498, were introduced 10/29/13 in the Senate & 11/8/13 in the Assembly. The bills called for the creation of a state student loan refinancing authority. Every single Democrat in the legislature co-sponsored the bills. No Republicans co-sponsored the bills. A public hearing was held in the Assembly 2/10/14 and in the Senate 2/5/14. Neither bill was given a vote in committee, and a pulling motion failed in both the Senate and Assembly. Every Republican voted against this measure. (See 2013 SB 376 and 2013 AB 498) The crisis is even more pressing for women, who graduate to a gender pay gap. [Legislative Journal, 01/01/2013]

Supporters of the equal pay enforcement provisions said they had been effective in addressing Wisconsin’s...

“The Equal Pay law wasn’t just about women—it also offered protection from discrimination based on race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors. But it was enacted largely in response to a large gap between men and women’s compensation, one that was worse than average in Wisconsin—in 2009 the state ranked 36th in the country in terms of workplace gender parity...To bring a suit under the law, a plaintiff first had to go through a state-level administrative process to prove discrimination. It was rigorous enough that in the two years the law was in effect, not a single equal-pay lawsuit was filed. Still, the law’s supporters believe it has been effective in spurring businesses to pay women more fairly. Thus by 2010, the state had climbed to 24th in the national gender-parity rankings, with women making 78 percent as much as men, compared to 77 percent nationally. “Since the law was put into place, employers actually took notice and were very conscious of the fact that they had to follow this law or they were at risk of a lawsuit,” Sinicki argues.

[Daily Beast, 04/07/2012]

Walker Signed Equal Pay Repeal and Abortion Restriction Bills In Private and Released Them on Good Friday

Walker, a Republican, signed the bills Thursday but didn't announce the move until midday Friday, when his office released a list of more than 50 bills he signed Thursday and Friday...Walker also signed a bill that prohibits workers from collecting damages in employment discrimination cases. Under current state law, employees who prevail in discrimination lawsuits can collect between $50,000 and $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. The Republican bill blocks anyone from collecting such damages in employment discrimination suits. The state Department of Workforce Development could still award an employee back pay, costs and attorney fees, however. Democrats say the bill hurts women who might suffer discrimination in the workplace. [Wisconsin State Journal, 04/07/2012]

Scott Walker Quietly Repeals Wisconsin Equal Pay Law

A Wisconsin law that made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court was repealed on Thursday, after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the bill. The 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act was meant to deter employers from discriminating against certain groups by giving workers more avenues via which to press charges. Among other provisions, it allows individuals to plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court.

[Huffington Post, 04/06/2012]

On April 5, 2012 Scott Walker signed SB 202 that repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act

The Equal Pay Enforcement Act gave victims of wage discrimination the ability to sue in state courts for punitive and compensatory damages. By repealing the law, Walker made it easier for corporations to discriminate because the adverse financial consequences were lessened if they were caught. In addition, filing suit in state courts is often cheaper and easier than going to federal court so victims may be less likely to pursue claims without the state court option.

[2011 SB 202, 04/05/2012]

Research shows that since the law was passed Wisconsin has been one of a handful of states that has seen the...

According to the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau:“Median female earnings as a percentage of median male earnings rose by 3.0% in Wisconsin between 2009 and 2010. Only four states had larger increases.Wisconsin jumped 12 spots in the gender earnings parity ranking between 2009 and 2010, from 36th to 24th.” The LRB posted the information on Twitter as a way of promoting the Wisconsin Almanac which provides information on how Wisconsin compares to other states in a variety of areas including workers’ pay.” [Sen. Dave Hansen press release, 02/16/2012]

Walker Raised Taxes on Working Families & Poor

Walker's first state budget included two tax increases on working families: changing the Earned Income Tax Credit program (EITC) and removing the indexing of inflation from the homestead property tax relief program.
  • The change to the EITC totals $56 million over the biennium: “The cuts to the earned income credit would total $56.2 million over two years, $12.7 million more than the cuts proposed by Walker, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has described Walker’s proposal as a state income tax increase.”
  • The change to the Homestead program results in a $13.6 million tax increase: The Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo detailing the tax increases in Walker’s original budget is here.
  • Almost 275,000 working families benefit from the EITC tax relief and 250,000 Wisconsin residents are affected by the change to the homestead program.
  • About one-third of Homestead claimants (over 75,000) are over 65 years old.
[2011 WI Act 32, 06/26/2011]

Walker Created Waiting Period for Unemployment Insurance

Effective January 1, 2012, there will be a one-week waiting period before an unemployed worker can collect benefits. The inclusion of this change in the State Budget was made unilaterally by Republicans in the Legislature. Despite a veto request by all labor and management representatives on the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, Governor Walker signed this into law. For decades, the Advisory Council has made changes to UI benefits through a balanced, negotiated agreement involving employers and labor. The Department of Workforce Development estimates that workers will lose $41 million to $56 million in benefits due to the waiting period, depending on the unemployment rate. (2011 Assembly Bill 40, introduced 3/1/11; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call) [2011 WI Act 32, 06/26/2011]

Walker signed law pre-empting sick day ordinance and voiding a Milwaukee ordinance that had been passed by...

Gov. Scott Walker signed into law Thursday a measure that voids Milwaukee's paid sick leave ordinance that was passed by voters in a referendum and upheld recently by the state Court of Appeals. Walker, in Milwaukee on Thursday for the annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast at the Italian Community Center, went to offices of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce offices to sign Senate Bill 23. The bill will pre-empt local ordinances from requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees for family, medical or health issues. "This law removes another barrier in the road to creating 250,000 private sector jobs by 2015," Walker said. "Patchwork government mandates stifle job creation and economic opportunity. This law gives employers the flexibility they need to put people back to work and that makes Wisconsin a more attractive place to do business." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 05/05/2011]