Scott Walker Column

By County Executive Scott Walker

Wisconsin has had more than its share of bad economic news this year. Recent newspaper headlines read:
Wisconsin Home Sales and Prices Fall as Unemployment Rises Madison jobless rate up to 6.6% in June Current recession rivals '80s economic meltdown
Here are the headlines I would like to see in 2014:
Wisconsin Leads Midwest in Job Creation State Jobless Rate Far Below National Average Business Tax Climate Much Improved in Badger State
If we elect the right leaders in 2010, we can make those headlines a reality. But it will not happen if we continue to abdicate more power to a government that seeks to replace jobs created in a competitive market with taxpayer subsidized jobs that are created through mandates and massive government spending.
There has never been a more important time to commit ourselves to the principles of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and personal freedom. These are not simply the bedrock principles of our political party, they are the foundation of a free and prosperous nation.
In order to succeed, we must offer a clear vision for the future. It is no longer enough to tinker around the edges of public policies that erode our economic and personal freedom. Those failed policies are driving jobs, qualified workers, and retirees from our state.
State government has grown beyond the taxpayers’ ability to pay. Overzealous regulators who once played the role of facilitator, helping employers prepare and safely implement their business plans, are now standing in the way of their progress.
Our leaders must adopt an aggressive agenda for change, taking bold and immediate steps to improve Wisconsin’s economic climate and reverse the damage caused by years of deficit spending, excessive borrowing, and excessive taxation.
In addition to lowering the tax burden on families and businesses, we must implement a program to restore the public trust and help put state government back on the side of the people. To begin, we should:
Start the state budget at zero. Just because a government program has a vocal constituency and a high priced lobbyist does not mean it should continue, let alone receive automatic funding increases. Every dollar spent should be scrutinized and justified, not simply given a blind percentage increase.
Require the use of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to balance every state budget, just as we require every local government and school district to do.
Strip policy and pork projects from the state budget. The budget process should be about funding essential government services based on the taxpayers’ ability to pay. It should not be about horse trading for special interest groups or establishing talking points for the next campaign.
Eliminate raids on segregated state funds to pay for other programs. If taxpayer revenue is collected for a specific purpose such as building and maintaining roads, it should be used for that purpose and that purpose only.
Restore Wisconsin’s reputation for clean and honest government through transparency in the state contracting process. Require lobbyists to report all attempts to influence state agency decisions regarding the awarding of state contracts and grants, and provide real time disclosure of all awarded contracts and grants. Government is spending your money, and you have a right to know when, where, and how much.
Next, we need to wrest control from the education establishment in Wisconsin that has used the Legislature and the courts to shut parents out of the education process. Research and common sense tell us that when parents are involved in their child’s education, students achieve higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates.
Parental involvement in a child’s education should be celebrated, not litigated. And when it comes to investing state resources in education, we should build on what works instead of sinking more money into programs and systems that continue to fail.
We should expand successful educational options like school choice, charter schools and virtual school programs, particularly in Milwaukee, where students score 21 to 40 points below the state average in reading and math, and where 2 out of every 3 children will not graduate.
These programs produce proven academic results, along with satisfied parents, and are widely supported by area employers seeking a well-trained workforce. In Milwaukee, they provide a lifeline to our most vulnerable children.
When it comes to higher education, we must make the University of Wisconsin affordable and accessible to Wisconsin families first, demand that our technical schools teach skills that are linked to real job needs, and connect future investments in the UW system to careers like engineering and medical research.
Finally, since the best incentive for college graduates to stay in Wisconsin after graduation is the promise of a good paying job, we must provide employers the tools and incentives they need to maintain and expand their operations here.
Through their ingenuity, hard work and determination, the people of Wisconsin have made our state a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Our companies are recognized as world leaders in everything from manufacturing motorcycles to making a better bovine. Our people are famous for their Midwestern work ethic, and Wisconsin once led the nation in reform – from changing welfare to providing hope to low income families through educational choice and charter schools.
By electing leaders who are open-minded and willing to put the best interests of the taxpayers ahead of government interests, we can get our great state working again.