Gov. Scott Walker pledged Tuesday night to reform state government and invest “every penny of savings” to support public education.
What’s more, lawmakers from both sides also raised concerns about the one idea Walker offered in reforming government to invest in education: changing how the state administers health insurance for its employees. The guv’s administration has been studying moving to a self-insurance model, saying it could save tens of millions, but legislative leaders said it could disrupt the private market, hurting taxpayers.
I suspect that Walker wants to encourage Democratic support for his reform proposals by promising to plow any savings into public education. I also sense a growing reluctance on the part of some Republicans to cut public education.
While not a terrible idea, the reforms should stand on their own merit irrespective of where the savings go. And I’m skeptical of any plan that promises to spend more on something without any indication on if the extra money is needed or how it will be spent. Politicians like to spend more on popular things to make themselves look good to their constituents, but is that money going to be spent wisely? On what? Shouldn’t we start with a budget that prioritizes expenses and then see how much of it we can pay for instead of just throwing money at it and thinking we accomplished something? Without knowing how that money would be spent, I’d just assume return any savings to the taxpayers. If they want to spend more on their local public schools, that’s what the referendum process is for.