Scott Walker, The Rest of the Story
Dear Group, For weeks readers of the Spokesman have been intermittently subjected to this ad by the Washington Policy Center for "Gov." Scott Walker's appearance at tomorrow's (May 14) all-day "Solutions Summit" at the Davenport Hotel. (Notice the verbal connection to Nadine Woodward's motto "Spokane Solutions" in her supposedly non-partisan race for Spokane mayor this fall. This is surely no accident.) On the Washington Policy Center website, you'll note the "Solutions Summit" is co-presented by Greater Spokane, Inc. From that o3zWPC website blurb on Mr. Walker: "On June 5, 2012, Scott Walker became the first Governor in American history to survive a recall election. He received both more votes and a higher percentage of the vote than in his 2010 election, proving again that Wisconsinites want leaders in office who keep their promises. His book, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge, chronicles his experiences, impact, and lessons learned as Governor." Let's look a little deeper. Born in 1967, son of a Baptist minister, Scott Walker's life is the story of man who has checked all the boxes for a modern day career as a Republican/Libertarian politician. In 1985, as a high school student, Walker attended Badger Boys State at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin. That, and later meeting Ronald Reagan at Boys Nation, Walker cites as kindling his interest in politics. (I attended Badger Boys State in 1968 and came away with the opposite lesson.) Walker was deeply involved in student politics from day one at Marquette University in Milwaukee, but dropped out in his senior year. His dropping out later made him the first governor of Wisconsin in 64 years without a college degree. Walker ran for the Wisconsin State Assembly for the first time at age 22. At age 26 he moved to Wauwatosa, in a more conservative Wisconsin legislative district, where his chances of political advancement were greater. In a special election in 1993 he claimed a seat in the Wisconsin Assembly. In 2002 he left the legislature when he became the Milwaukee County Executive in another special election. From County Executive he made a bid for governor in 2006, but withdrew for lack of funds and party support, "the only statewide race he ever lost," (that is, before 2018--see below). Four years later in 2010 Walker rode into the Wisconsin governorship on the Tea Party wave. From 2011 until his defeat in 2018 Walker's governorship was tumultuous, not unlike what we are suffering through as a nation with the current occupant of the White House. Here's a quote from the Milwaukee Sentinel from an article entitled "In a divided Wisconsin, Scott Walker's lightning-rod approach to politics worked for him -- until it didn't": But another reason that voters were so polarized over Walker was Walker’s own approach to politics. His personality wasn’t divisive, like President Donald Trump’s. But his leadership was polarizing in several ways. One was simply his successful pursuit of aggressively conservative policies, which excited his supporters and angered his opponents. A second was the “shock and awe” factor. His defining early accomplishment — all but ending collective bargaining for public-sector unions — was not a policy he campaigned on in 2010. It was a post-election bombshell. That inflamed the conflict that followed. It embittered the left, which responded in ways that embittered the right, and set the tone for the Walker years. Walker's years as governor of Wisconsin was right out of the Koch fueled national Republican/Libertarian playbook. Read the well-referenced entry on Scott Walker in Wikipedia for the details. Walker's signature piece of legislation, the "Budget Repair Bill" gutted the collective bargaining leverage of public sector unions...on the excuse it was necessary to balance the state budget, but with the subtext that public employees are overpaid and underworked. Meanwhile, of course, Walker generated tax cuts of nearly 2 billion dollars (tax "relief"--notice the framing). His trashing of public sector unions resulted in the first recall election of a governor in Wisconsin history (and only the third in the nation). Walker was the first of those three to survive a recall, thanks to a $37 million dollar war chest, 2/3 of which donations came from out of state. The list of large donors includes the Bradley Foundation, David and Charles Koch, Americans for Prosperity, and something called the "Wisconsin Policy Research Institute" (WPPI is a member of the State Policy Network, as is the Washington Policy Center.) The list of big money donors that came to Walker's defense reads like a summary of Jane Meyer's book "Dark Money." (see "Deep Background" in the References below). While crowing about tax "relief" Walker's budgets slashed money for public education. His 2015 budget proposal slashed 13% from the state funding for the Wisconsin university system. He proposed putting the University of Wisconsin under a "private authority" (all his appointees). He even proposed a re-write of the university system commitment from "search for truth" to a goal of "workforce readiness." Walker's narrow, career politician background reminds me of McMorris Rodgers. His combative, change-everything style reminds me of the current occupant of the White House. Walker's Downfall: So who toppled this college dropout, career Republican politician, this belligerent ideologue? To read the Washington Policy Center and Greater Spokane's advertisement for Walker's keynote address tomorrow you wouldn't even know Walker had lost an election, much less to whom. The man who toppled Scott Walker in November 2018 is Tony Evers, a career educator with a Ph.D. in Educational Administration. Governor Tony Evers has worked as a classroom teacher, school principle, district administrator, and, most recently, as Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Wisconsin. Savor the contrast. Evers margin of victory was small, but he was running against an incumbent with a huge war chest and lavish campaign spending (Walker's 21.7 million to Evers 7.7 million) Wisconsin voters finally pushed back and elected a man with actual expertise in education, a repudiation of Walker's agenda of defunding. Now our local Republicans (under cover of the "Washington Policy Center") have brought Walker to Spokane to preach Republican/Libertarian ideology to an audience WPC would happily keep ignorant of Walker's electoral loss and the credentials of the man who beat him. .Keep to the high ground, Jerry P.S. Scott Walker's 2011-13 budget proposal as referenced in wikipedia contained this nugget: He proposed a 5.5% decrease in the maximum amount of funding school districts can receive from state aid and property taxes, which would limit how much property taxes could be increased to compensate for the reduction in state aid. The budget lowered state capital gains taxes for investments in Wisconsin businesses. This sounds disturbingly similar in intent to the Washington State "levy swap equalization," the $1.50/1000 assessed value cap the Republicans extracted as a "compromise" in the Washington State budget negotiations that Michael Baumgartner crowed about as a Washington legislator. Are these two tactics to undermine funding for public schools part of Republican orthodoxy?