The nation’s governors met in Milwaukee over the weekend to share tips about what to do to make their states better. Some of the governors had more to tell than others, but few more than Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin. He’s showing the rest of the nation what an actual economic recovery looks like.
Mr. Walker talked of the numbers from the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia that put his state among the top five in economic growth. “We know that employers want stability, and while we can’t control all of the factors affecting job creation, this ranking is another sign that the work we are doing is improving the business climate in the state,” he said.
The results in Wisconsin were wrought by neither coincidence nor luck. Wisconsin earned them. The state’s voters made a conscious and distinct choice to break from the failed public policies of the past. Before Mr. Walker assumed office in 2011, public-sector unions ruled Madison, carving for themselves golden pension plans that nobody else had and Wisconsin couldn’t pay for, swelling the deficit to $3.6 billion. Unlike many of his colleagues, Republican or Democrat, Mr. Walker was willing to wager his own future to say no to greedy unions. Voters explicitly endorsed Mr. Walker’s agenda when they voted against recalling him, and by a comfortable margin.
This enrages liberals in a solid blue state with a large union membership. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. Lizz Winstead, co-creator of the “Daily Show,” appeared on Al Jazeera’s new American television network last week and her bile exploded. “I hate Scott Walker really down to the core of my being,” she said. Chanting demonstrators gathered in the Capitol rotunda for a “singing protest” against the new era of responsible budgeting.
Mr. Walker took away the free ride for state employees. They must now pay half of the contribution to their pension and 12.6 percent of the cost of their health insurance. Abuse of overtime, used to fatten prospective pensions, was eliminated. The changes added up to $1.9 billion in savings, and much of it was returned to taxpayers. So far this session, the Wisconsin legislature has approved across-the-board tax cuts, a manufacturing tax credit and a reduction in unnecessary regulation.
Before Mr. Walker took office, only 1 of every 10 businessmen said the state was headed in the right direction. Last month, more than 9 of 10 CEOs said in a survey by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce trade association that they like where Wisconsin is headed. President Obama would cheer for numbers like that.
America’s economic future depends on local, state and federal legislators taking the lesson that good business is good for America. The Wisconsin model can work in other states. Washington could learn from it, too. They only have to try it.
The Washington Times