By Jessica Walworth
In his article “The Most Important Non-Presidential Election of the Decade” Stephen Moore writes, “No American politician had a more polarizing effect on voters last year than Scott Walker. This time last year, thousands of irate protesters were occupying Wisconsin's state Capitol, comparing Mr. Walker to Hitler for trying to reform the pension and collective-bargaining systems of public-employee unions.”
This time last year I wrote about that protest. Being in Madison last March gave me the unique opportunity to not only witness these protests, but also watch as Scott Walker responded to them.
Looking back, my impression of that day at the capitol is mixed. While I left Madison with a total respect for Governor Scott Walker, I also left Madison with a total disdain for mob rule.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a newspaper often associated with a liberal bias, Walker has been above reproach. Check out their PolitiFact page. Not only has he fulfilled his campaign promises, but also he has dramatically turned Wisconsin’s economy and morale around.
Consider the following facts:
- Wisconsin’s last year's $3 billion deficit is now a $300 million surplus.
- This surplus was accomplished without the new taxes that unions favored.
- The legislature passed a successful statewide school voucher program.
- Wisconsin business regulations have eased—attracting businesses across the nation and globe.
- When Mr. Walker took office, a survey of major business owners by the state's Chamber of Commerce found that only 10% thought Wisconsin was heading "in the right direction." Now 94% say it is.
- Chief Executive Magazine found that Wisconsin's business climate in 2011 showed the greatest one-year improvement of any state in the history of the magazine's ratings.
- After bleeding 150,000 jobs in the previous three years, Wisconsin added 10,000 jobs in 2011.
- By granting local governments the legal authority to hire and fire teachers and other workers based on merit—as well as requiring teachers to contribute 5.8% into their pensions (up from 0%) and all public employees to pay 12.6% of their health-care premiums (about half what most private workers’ pay)—Walker has already saved local governments $475 million.
- These reforms avoided mass layoffs and allowed school districts to maintain and in some cases even reduce class sizes.
As of February 27, the Walker campaign will not challenge any more signatures. Republican Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Ben Sparks said in a statement that no challenge will be submitted to the recall signatures because the governor's campaign was "not given an adequate amount of time to review even half of the submitted recall petitions."
Some of the findings in reviewing the signatures have proven interesting, but the real issue to Governor Walker is the absurd amount of money going into both the recall and the elections. Mr. Walker put it more clearly: “It’s $9 million of taxpayers’ money just to run this. Think about the number of kids we could help, think of the number of seniors we could help in our state with $9 million that we didn’t have to waste on this — this frivolous recall election.”
I began with Mr. Moore, so I find no fault in ending with him: “If unions succeed in getting voters to evict reformers, it could ‘set back the conservative reform agenda across the states for a generation.’ This might be the most important nonpresidential election in a decade.”