For the last several years, The Progressive has covered Scott Walker’s reversal of Wisconsin’s progressive legacy. The Republican governor, elected in 2010, set out to divide and conquer the state with his own brand of anti-public-interest politics. Now we’re left with a Wisconsin government that is still shouting “Forward!” as it sprints backwards.
The Progressive has watched Walker break the Badger State into bitter factions in pursuit of his own agenda. A career politician, he’s now turning his work in Wisconsin into a presidential platform.
But as governor, what has he accomplished?
- Back in 2011, Walker was pushing legislation that undermined voting rights, fair housing, equal access to quality public education, and anti-discrimination laws. His most recent budget ends Milwaukee's school-desegregation program.
- On women’s health, Walker has been a disaster, signing a bill mandating that women seeking abortions endure unnecessary ultrasounds (they are “just a cool thing,” he explained), and backing a total ban on abortions after 20 weeks, even of fetuses with fatal abnormalities and in women whose health is severely jeopardized by their pregnancies.
- Walker one-upped his hero Ronald Reagan as a union basher by dismantling collective bargaining rights for both public and private-sector workers, something even Reagan opposed.
- He has transformed Wisconsin into a “Right-to-Work” state.
- Walker slashed the budget for Wisconsin’s public schools and funneled the money into private schools through a statewide expansion of Milwaukee's underperforming voucher program.
- He cut funding to technical colleges and other programs providing job skills training.
- His new budget cuts $250 million out of the University of Wisconsin system, and ends faculty tenure, driving away top professors.
- The jobs agency he launched to fulfill his campaign promise of adding 250,000 jobs fell far short of its goal, fudged its process for tracking job creation, and gave a $500,000 loan to a campaign donor without any promise of creating jobs.
- One of Walker’s tangible efforts to create jobs, a giant open-pit iron ore mine on the shores of Lake Superior, threatened Wisconsin’s environment, local drinking water, and Native American lands. To fast-track the mine, Walker endorsed legislation drafted by the out-of-state mine owner, doing away with state environmental oversight and local democratic control over the proposed site.
Controversy and Scandal
- Walker so alienated his state’s residents that they gathered nearly one million signatures to launch a recall election, which he survived with a huge infusion of out-of-state cash.
- Several of Walker’s close aides from his days as Milwaukee County executive were convicted of crimes; prosecutors who conducted a secret investigation of his office as county executive allege that he and others engaged in a “criminal scheme” to break electioneering laws.
- Walker has built a close relationship with the Koch brothers.
- And he has compiled a long, documented record of false statements.