Tag Archives: Scott Walker

Another year, another tax surplus

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

In a fitting coda to the two remarkable terms of Governor Scott walker, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a report last week showing that the preliminary general fund tax collections for fiscal year 2019 came in a whopping $702.6 million more than anticipated. Such a number demonstrates the remarkably good shape in which Walker left the state economy and the state’s finances.

When the Legislature and the governor write a budget, they have to estimate the amount of revenue that the various taxes will generate for the state. This estimate is based on the tax laws in place combined with economic forecasts. As with any estimate, the further one looks into the future, the less certainty there is with the number.

When the Legislature passed the previous biennial budget which just came to a close, they estimated that they would collect $16.6 billion in taxes including income taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes, excise taxes, public utility taxes, and the other many and varied taxes extracted from the people of Wisconsin. Based on the preliminary data, the state actually collected $17.3 billion in taxes leaving a $700 million surplus. For a little historical perspective, the state of Wisconsin ended the fiscal year with more tax collections than expected in six of the eight Walker budget years.

This tax surplus gives us a few critical insights. First, it was not that long ago that Wisconsin’s budget was in an annual crisis with tax revenue falling short of projections. Coupled with overspending, Wisconsin had massive annual deficits. You might remember when Governor Walker first sat behind the governor’s desk, he was handed a massive budget deficit that required an immediate Budget Repair Bill, a.k.a Act 10. Governor Walker and the conservative Republican majorities in the Legislature, quickly righted the ship of state over the violent objections of the Democrats. Wisconsin has enjoyed budget surpluses ever since.

Second, recall that tax surpluses are simply a factor or the state collecting more than they estimated they would collect. These estimates have often been used in other states and in previous eras in Wisconsin to create phony budgets. Wisconsin must pass a balanced budget. Unlike the federal government, a state does not have the power to print money, so the state must account for every dollar spent.

In order to create the fiction of a balanced budget to support more spending, politicians will inflate tax revenue estimates for the budget. Then, when actual tax revenues fall short of the inflated estimates, the same politicians will enact new taxes or borrowing to pay the bills. It is a cynical method of budgeting by crisis. The consistency of the tax revenue surpluses during the Walker budgets show that the Republicans used responsible, conservative tax revenue estimates to create their budgets.

Third, the tax surplus is a result of the fact that Wisconsin’s economy is booming thanks in part to the economic policies Governor Walker and the Republican- led legislatures of recent years. Taxes are generated when money moves. Money moves when the economy is healthy. With more people employed in Wisconsin than ever before, businesses thriving, new construction happening everywhere, and people spending their higher incomes, the state of Wisconsin gets a slice of every dollar that moves.

As the Republicans cut taxes several times over the previous eight years, the money that people kept was put to good use in our economy, thus creating more wealth, more income, more spending, and, yes, more tax revenue. As has been demonstrated time and time again, when the tax burden is too heavy, cutting taxes always feeds more economic activity and results in more tax revenue. And the tax burden in Wisconsin is still far too heavy.

The one significant black mark on the Walker budget years is that while the state had budget surpluses, Walker and the Republicans still increased spending every single budget. And in the most recent budget, with Republicans controlling the Legislature and Governor Evers in power, the notion of any spending constraint was abandoned. At some point, the economy will enter a recession, tax revenues will collapse, and we will all regret that we failed to control spending during the good times.

 

Another year, another tax surplus

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s the start:

In a fitting coda to the two remarkable terms of Governor Scott walker, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a report last week showing that the preliminary general fund tax collections for fiscal year 2019 came in a whopping $702.6 million more than anticipated. Such a number demonstrates the remarkably good shape in which Walker left the state economy and the state’s finances.

Scott Walker Takes New Job and Won’t Run for Office

I wish him and his family the very best. This sounds like a good gig for his strengths.

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker announced plans Monday to serve full-time as president of a national conservative youth organization and ruled out the possibility of him seeking political office in the next five years.

The board of directors of the Young America’s Foundation elected Walker to become president of the group in early 2021 when YAF’s current president will step down after more than 40 years.

YAF works to promote conservative ideas among young people.

This clears the way for someone to take the mantle in Wisconsin. Who will it be?

Walker Signs Final Legislation of Governorship

Excellent.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday signed a set of proposals passed quickly by the state’s Republican-led Legislature in a lame-duck session last week. The bills would strip away some powers from his Democratic successor and restrict early voting, but Walker argued Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers’ executive authority will remain “one of the most powerful in the nation.”

Walker signed the bills in their entirety, with no changes or vetoes.

“Despite all the hype and hysteria out there, these bills do nothing to fundamentally diminish executive authority,” Walker said in a statement. “The bottom line is the new governor will continue to be one of the most powerful chief executives in the country.”

Walker Finagles $28 Million for KC

Ugh. I don’t like this deal at all.

The state’s economic development agency has reached a $28 million tax credit deal with Kimberly-Clark to retain its Fox Crossing facility and 388 jobs, Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday just weeks before he leaves office.

Gov.-elect Tony Evers criticized the incentive package and referenced it as a reason Walker should veto recently approved lame-duck legislation, which makes several changes to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., including stripping the agency’s ability to make such deals without legislative approval.

Walker pushed for an incentive package for the consumer products manufacturer even after Republican lawmakers chose to shelve a bill during the lame-duck session that could have provided as much as $100 million in tax incentives over a 15-year period. The bill had received bipartisan criticism for setting a bad precedent.

Walker lamented the delays in that bill and championed the deal, which won’t require legislative approval, as a victory for workers and their families across the state.

The legislature made two (at least) attempts to pass an incentive package for KC and it failed because there wasn’t enough Republican – and no Democrat – support for it. It would be one thing if Walker did this out of the blue, but he called for legislation on it. The legislation failed due to lack of support. And now Walker is doing it anyway. Not cool.

Walker Appoints Schimel as Judge

Good move.

Gov. Scott Walker is appointing outgoing AG Brad Schimel to a vacancy on the Waukesha County Circuit Court.

The move comes a day after Schimel formally conceded the AG’s race to Dem rival Josh Kaul, who won by 17,190 votes. Schimel took the weekend to considered whether to seek a recount, but decided against requesting one.

“Brad Schimel has diligently served the State of Wisconsin as attorney general and the citizens of Waukesha County as district attorney,” Walker said. “Schimel has shown a commitment to the rule of law and the State of Wisconsin. He will continue to faithfully serve our state as Waukesha County Circuit Court judge.”

A letter of thanks to Gov. Scott Walker

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Dear Gov. Scott Walker,

Like many Wisconsinites, I was truly disappointed to see the voters of our state decline to elect you for a third term. I can say with confidence that you have been the most transformational and important governor of my lifetime. We are all currently enjoying the fruits of your efforts with record employment, higher wages, lower taxes and so much more. While your accomplishments over two short terms number in the hundreds, if not thousands, I would like to highlight a few of your achievements for which I am personally particularly thankful.

I cannot begin any list like this without putting Act 10 at the top. In terms of transformational reforms, Act 10 ranks high. Not only did it put power back into the hands of local governments to serve their constituents without being choked by union contracts, but it also saved taxpayers billions of dollars in money that was being wantonly wasted. Thank you.

You managed to pull Wisconsin into the 21st century of civil rights by enacting concealed carry. As a matter of individual liberty, the concealed carry law is an important protection of our natural and civil right to keep and bear arms. It also has the additional benefit of allowing Wisconsinites to carry lethal force to protect themselves when the worst happens. Thank you.

Freezing tuition for all University of Wisconsin schools has a two-pronged benefit. First, it saved Wisconsinites thousands of dollars and made it more affordable for more kids to obtain a higher education. Second, it forced the UW System to economize — or at least think about economizing. Thank you.

I certainly am thankful for the lower taxes that you enacted. Lower income taxes and the complete elimination of the state property tax have helped my family and many others. Plus, lower taxes on businesses has had a positive impact on our state’s economy. Thank you.

As a hunter, conservationist and homeowner, I appreciate the new attitude that you engendered in the Department of Natural Resources and other state agencies. In the past, the DNR took an aggressive and adversarial stance with citizens in the enforcement of environmental regulations and wildlife management. Now the DNR works with citizens and businesses to help them comply with the law, thus leading to a better citizen experience and better environmental enforcement. Thank you.

The expansion of school choice to the entire state has been a tremendous blessing for families who were unable to choose a different school for their children when their children were unable to be successful in current public school — even if they could not afford it due to their financial circumstances. School choice has also helped shift the culture in many of our public schools to make them more accountable to the parents and children they serve. Thank you.

Persuading Foxconn to build their facility in Wisconsin was truly the culmination of all of your efforts to make Wisconsin a more attractive place for businesses to build and grow. The Foxconn factory and offices will be massive, but even more so all of the supporting businesses that are springing up. Foxconn is the largest economic development that you had a hand in, but it is only one of thousands of other economic successes blossoming in our state. Never in my lifetime did I think that Wisconsin would have more jobs than available workers, but we do. Thank you.

Finally, and I know this actually goes back to your tenure as the Milwaukee County executive, but every time I drive into General Mitchell International Airport, I am glad that I do not have to drive past a ridiculous colossal Blue Shirt on the side of the parking garage. Thank you.

As you ponder the end of this chapter of your public service career, I hope that you can look back with pride on what you have accomplished for millions of Wisconsinites and the generations to come. Your hard work and passion for the people of Wisconsin and your conservative principles have paid off. You weren’t just marking time. You made a difference.

A letter of thanks to Gov. Scott Walker

My column in the Washington County Daily News today is a letter of thanks to Governor Walker. Click through to read the whole thing.

Dear Gov. Scott Walker,

Like many Wisconsinites, I was truly disappointed to see the voters of our state decline to elect you for a third term. I can say with confidence that you have been the most transformational and important governor of my lifetime. We are all currently enjoying the fruits of your efforts with record employment, higher wages, lower taxes and so much more. While your accomplishments over two short terms number in the hundreds, if not thousands, I would like to highlight a few of your achievements for which I am personally particularly thankful.

Keep Wisconsin moving forward

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Early voting has been underway in Wisconsin for several weeks, but the end of the election season is rapidly approaching. Nov. 6 is the final day to vote. As a free people, we have the hardearned right to set the course of our public affairs for years to come. We must choose wisely.

There are many important choices on the ballot, but the three at the top of the ballot are paramount for the future of our state. Brad Schimel is asking for a second term as Wisconsin’s attorney general and he has earned it.

In his first term, Schimel has launched programs to support victims of domestic abuse and violent crime, fought the opioid abuse epidemic, supported local law enforcement, fixed the rape kit backlog that he inherited and much more. Schimel has led the Department of Justice as it should be run — as a no nonsense, law and order shop.

This stands in stark contrast to what his opponent, Josh Kaul, wants to do with the office. Kaul is part of the massive liberal effort, spearheaded by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, to elect rabid activists as attorneys general across the nation. Their objective is to use the power of the office of attorney general to wage liberal havoc against their enemies. For the sake of law and order, Wisconsin must reelect Attorney General Brad Schimel.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir is challenging U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. This race is a contrast in work ethic as well as ideology. Baldwin is completing her first term and one struggles to come up with a single accomplishment to her name. Backbenching inaction has been the hallmark of Baldwin’s entire political career. In almost six years as Wisconsin’s junior senator, the only thing that is remarkable about Baldwin’s tenure has been that she is a tremendously reliable vote for the Democratic leaders and every lefty cause they dreamt up.

During the exact same time, one could find Vukmir at the center of every major reform enacted in Wisconsin. Vukmir was at the center of Act 10, advancing school choice, reforming welfare, lowering taxes, health care reform, expanding civil rights and has been instrumental in advancing the reforms that have led to an economic renaissance in our state. Wisconsin is dramatically better off than it was when Vukmir first stepped into the state Legislature. We need a senator like Vukmir who will actually work for Wisconsin’s interests in Washington.

Finally, Gov. Scott Walker is asking Wisconsin for a third and final term as our governor. He has certainly earned it. Perhaps the easiest way to measure Walker’s tenure is by asking the old question, “are you better off ?” By virtually every measurement, the answer is, “yes.”

When Walker first assumed office, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 8 percent. Now it is less than 3 percent for the eighth month in a row. Before Walker became governor, businesses were fleeing Wisconsin. Now businesses like Foxconn are clamoring to set up shop in our state. Before Walker, taxes were going up every year at almost every level with no end in sight. Now Wisconsinites have enjoyed a decrease in the tax burden and the elimination of the state property tax.

Before Walker, tuition at the state’s universities were going up faster than inflation. Now Walker has frozen tuition at UW schools and students can more easily afford a higher education. Before Walker, the state was running a deficit in the billions of dollars. Now the state regularly runs a small surplus that has been used to give money back to taxpayers or bolster the state’s rainy day fund.

Before Walker became our governor, the DNR was feared by businesses, homeowners and conservationists alike. Now the DNR works to help people comply with environmental regulations. Before Walker, our civil rights to keep and bear arms were unreasonably restricted. Now Wisconsinites enjoy the liberties to which we are entitled. Before Walker, some of Wisconsin’s workers were forced to be members of a union if they wanted to work. Now every Wisconsin worker enjoys the right to freely associate.

By virtually every measurement — economic, civil rights, taxes, regulatory climate, etc. — Wisconsin is much better off than it was before Walker took office. Unless you want to see all of our progress come to a screeching halt, vote for Walker.

Walker, Vukmir and Schimel have all helped make Wisconsin a great place to live and work. They deserve our votes. More importantly, we deserve to have them continue to work on our behalf.

Keep Wisconsin moving forward

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here’s the thrust:

Walker, Vukmir and Schimel have all helped make Wisconsin a great place to live and work. They deserve our votes. More importantly, we deserve to have them continue to work on our behalf.

First Debate Between Evers and Walker

Since nobody actually watched the debate live because it was on a Friday night during a Brewers playoff game and a Bucks game, here’s a recording of the debate.

Big Fitz Backs Walker on Pre-Existing Conditions

Unpopular opinion: the government mandating that private companies cover pre-existing conditions is still horrible public policy that inflates prices, distorts the market, hurts consumers, and undermines the entire concept of insurance. The whole point of insurance is to cover something that might happen… not something that already has happened. It’s a shame that Republicans have adopted this as part of their platform. Obama moved the line closer to socialism with Obamacare and the Republicans followed.

Speaking with reporters after a WisPolitics.com Q&A luncheon, Fitzgerald raised doubts about whether there would be enough votes in the Senate’s Republican majority to pass legislation requiring insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. But several hours later, after media reports on his comments, he released a statement saying the Senate would, in fact, pass such a bill if needed.

“Pre-existing conditions are covered right now, and I support that policy. If it becomes necessary to cover them in the future, the senate would pass a bill to do so,” Fitzgerald said in a statement released early Tuesday evening.

Walker has promised throughout his re-election campaign that he will preserve insurance coverage for Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions, even if the federal requirement to do so under the Affordable Care Act is struck down. With Walker’s approval, Wisconsin is part of a multi-state lawsuit seeking to overturn the Obama-era health care law.

Walker Proposes Increased Spending on Roads

Again… sigh… Walker is vowing to spend more money. I already voted for Walker and he is a far better choice than Evers, but it’s hard to get excited about his platform of trying to outspend the Democrats. Perhaps he should focus on energizing his Republican base instead of trying to appeal to the 3% of undecideds. How about eliminating the income tax or something… bold.

STEVENS POINT— State support for town roads would jump from 42 percent to 58 percent in the next state budget, Governor Walker announced this morning at the Wisconsin Towns Association Annual Convention in Stevens Point.

“We provided the largest amount in state history for town road aids in this state budget, and our proposal for the next budget adds even more support for Wisconsin’s towns,” said Governor Walker. “Maintaining our transportation system is a top priority, and our plan will help ensure we have a safe and reliable system for families and businesses across the state.”

General Transportation Aids (GTAs) are largely disbursed on a per mile basis for towns. The proposed increase would amount to more than $900 per mile in state funding for a total per mile disbursement of more than $3,300. This represents a 58 percent state funding level for town roads. If approved, this investment would represent the largest level of funding for town GTAs in state history. Governor Walker set the previous state record for GTAs disbursed to towns last year with the state covering $2,389 per mile which represents 42 percent of covered costs.

Walker Vows to Return to Two-Thirds Funding of K-12

Sigh… once again, a Republican plays into the Democrat paradigm. It’s not about hitting some arbitrary funding amount or percentage. That is not accomplishing anything. It’s about improving educational outcomes for our kids. Unless Walker can articulate how this will improve outcomes, it’s just wasting more of the taxpayers’ money to get the same results.

[Madison, Wis.] – On Monday, Scott Walker announced that he is restoring the two-thirds funding of education by the state of Wisconsin that was instituted under Governor Tommy Thompson – and discarded by Democrats – while continuing to cut taxes for hard-working Wisconsin families. The governor released the following statement:

“We will fund two-thirds of school costs in our next state budget. Our good fiscal management and positive reforms, plus a strong economy, allowed us to make the largest actual-dollar investment in schools in our state budget while still lowering property taxes. Looking ahead, we will fully restore the two-thirds commitment made by former Governor Tommy Thompson. Tony Evers wants to undo our reforms. That would take money out of the classroom and away from students and he would allow property taxes to go up to pay for it.”

More money has not, and will not, improve education for our children

Here is my full column for the Washington County Daily News that ran yesterday.

With school back in full swing, the MacIver Institute’s Ola Lisowski completed a comprehensive review of the state of education in Wisconsin. The data gives some insight into how well our education system is serving our kids and raises some questions. One is left wondering, however, why Wisconsin’s politicians insist that throwing more money into education is the only answer.

Overall, ACT achievement scores have remained flat. In 2017, the average ACT score for graduating students was 20.5. That was the exact same as in 2016. Prior to 2016, the average ACT score remained flat at 22.0 or 22.1, but there was a change in participation requirements in 2016.

Until 2016, students only took the ACT if they were intending to go to college or just wanted to take the test. Starting in 2016, Wisconsin began requiring all enrolled students to take the ACT and taxpayers pay for the exams. Although students can still opt-out, the new rules pushed the participation rate for taking the ACT from the 63.5 percent in 2015 to 92.1 percent in 2016 and 2017. The fact that a much larger number of kids are taking the ACT — including many who do not have any intention of attending college — necessarily lowers the average.

Compared to the other 16 states that require all students to take the ACT, Wisconsin’s average is third best. Only Colorado and Minnesota do better.

Another metric for which longitudinal data is available is Advanced Placement course participation and results. Average scores for AP tests have been trending slightly down since 2010. In 2011, 68 percent of students scored a 3 or better on AP exams and 65.9 percent scored that well last year. But the good news is that more and more kids are taking AP exams. Last year, 57 percent more AP exams were taken as compared to the 2010-2011 school year. Much like with the ACT, broader participation usually pushes the average down, so it is good to see so little decline with the surge in participation.

Graduation rates have increased slightly since 2011 from 87 percent to 88.6 percent in 2017. That beats the national average of 84 percent. The real news in the much better graduation rates for some minority groups. The Hispanic and Latino graduation rate jumped from 72 percent in 2011 to 79.9 percent in 2016. The graduation rate for Native American kids grew from 71.7 percent in 2011 to 77.8 percent in 2016. Asian and black graduation rates increased by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. More kids are graduating and that is good news.

Unfortunately, we must temper the good news about the graduation rate with the data about remedial education. For many years, colleges have offered remedial education classes for incoming students.

They are classes for kids who are accepted and enrolled into the college, but need to shore up their core math or English skills.

Wisconsin began requiring in 2016 that UW System schools track which students need remedial education and the high schools that graduated those kids. The results are not good. Roughly 20 percent of all incoming students in the UW System require some form of remedial classes. These students graduated from 184 high schools. That means that almost 36 percent of Wisconsin high schools are sending kids to college who are not proficient in math or English. Not only is that indictment of those high schools, but it is a tremendous added expense to those kids who have to pay for remedial education they should have already received.

There is a lot more data on school performance. I invite you to read the overview at the MacIver Institute or dig through the Department of Public Instruction data yourself. A couple of insights bubble to the top after wading through the data. First, Wisconsin’s schools are fairly decent, for the most part, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Second, the performance has remained fairly consistent for the years despite taxpayers spending more and more every year.

This makes the politicians’ response all too disappointing. Tony Evers, the Democratic candidate for governor, has one answer to every question about education: Spend more money. This is despite the fact that spending more has no measurable impact on educational outcomes. Gov. Scott Walker has had a strong record of actual education reform, but has fallen into the same spending paradigm. This election, he is hanging his hat on the fact that Wisconsin increased spending on education and is spending more than ever.

The reason that politicians conflate more government spending with improving educational outcomes is as lazy as it is stupid. It is an easy way for them to demonstrate that they are “doing something.” In fact, they are doing nothing but wasting more money. The outcomes matter — not the spending.

More money has not, and will not, improve education for our children

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online now. Go pick up a paper, but here’s a snippet:

A couple of insights bubble to the top after wading through the data. First, Wisconsin’s schools are fairly decent, for the most part, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Second, the performance has remained fairly consistent for the years despite taxpayers spending more and more every year.

This makes the politicians’ response all too disappointing. Tony Evers, the Democratic candidate for governor, has one answer to every question about education: Spend more money. This is despite the fact that spending more has no measurable impact on educational outcomes. Gov. Scott Walker has had a strong record of actual education reform, but has fallen into the same spending paradigm. This election, he is hanging his hat on the fact that Wisconsin increased spending on education and is spending more than ever.

The reason that politicians conflate more government spending with improving educational outcomes is as lazy as it is stupid. It is an easy way for them to demonstrate that they are “doing something.” In fact, they are doing nothing but wasting more money. The outcomes matter — not the spending.

Keep the Walker economy going

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer in Wisconsin, has come and gone. The kids are back in school. Even some of the more eager leaves have begun to turn as a reminder that winter is looming on the horizon. Also looming is the November election, when Wisconsin’s voters will decide whether to change the direction of our state or stay the course.

Gov. Scott Walker has a great case to make for his re-election, but many voters have become complacent after so many years of success. Too often, politics is about “what have you done for me lately.” Walker and the legislative Republicans have made tremendous improvements in preserving and expanding civil rights, protecting life, education reform and many other areas of government. But with the limited space available in this column, let us look deeper at Wisconsin’s economy under Walker.

In 2010, the year that Scott Walker was elected as governor, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate stood at 8.7 percent. Over a quarter-million Wisconsinites were looking for work and could not find it. Per capita income had fallen to $38,598. Businesses were fleeing Wisconsin due to the inflexible regulatory climate, a hostile government and oppressive taxes. The state budget was running yet another massive deficit and voters were facing another round of tax increases.

Fast forward to July 2018 — after almost two full terms of Walker. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate stands at 3.1 percent — a rate below what many economists consider full employment. There are more than 300,000 more Wisconsinites working now than there were in 2010, and they are earning more. Per capita income in 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available, is up to $46,762 — an increase of more than $8,000 per person and the most recent economic data coming from federal number crunchers indicates that income growth is accelerating with sustained high employment.

One might be tempted to dismiss these economic comparisons as unfair given the entire nation’s economy is booming. That is true and a reason that voters should also return Republican majorities to the Congress, but Wisconsin is even doing better under Walker than most other states.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin’s percent growth in privatesector jobs in July ranked seventh nationally and first in the Midwest. Our state’s July unemployment rate tied for the seventh lowest in the nation. In the manufacturing industry, Wisconsin ranked fifth nationally in percent growth in jobs over the last year and gained the second-most manufacturing jobs in the last six months.

The evidence is clear that while the nation’s economy is enjoying fabulous growth in jobs and wages, Wisconsin is one of the states leading the pack.

The vast majority of Wisconsin’s economic success is due to the millions of Wisconsinites who work hard, build businesses and create value in the global market. State government’s policies can either retard the innate economic prowess of Wisconsin’s people or help create an environment where that prowess can be let loose. The policies that Walker enacted during his first two terms have enabled Wisconsinites to flex their economic muscles.

For example, Walker set about immediately cutting state regulations and reining in the fearsome Department of Natural Resources. He signed the law making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, thus freeing the people from forced unionization. Walker cut taxes and improved Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure.

Perhaps most importantly, Walker’s pro-business attitude has permeated state government. During the Jim Doyle era, Wisconsin had a well-earned reputation for being hostile to business. Companies that dared to open in the state were threatened with costly regulations, a DNR that would deny permits and slam them with fines for the most inconsequential infraction and politicians who would cluck their tongues if they were not the “right kind” of jobs.

Under Walker, the state has struck a better regulatory balance that protects the interests of all Wisconsinites — including those who want to work. State agencies still enforce all of the laws and regulations, but do so by helping businesses comply instead of crushing them with fines. When businesses run into some problem with state government, a state regulator is more likely to pick up the phone and ask, “How can I help?” That matters to business owners who are just trying to grow their businesses the best they know how.

Finally, unlike the previous governor, Walker actively recruits businesses to move to Wisconsin. There is no doubt that had it not been for Walker aggressively recruiting Foxconn, that multibillion-dollar investment would have gone to another state. Walker not only asked for the business, he closed the deal. A lesser governor would not have succeeded.

Wisconsin’s economy has made a complete turnaround under Walker and is heading in the right direction. It is a mistake to think that the state’s economy will continue in that direction under Tony Evers. Leadership matters and Wisconsin’s economy needs Walker to remain at the helm.

Keep the Walker economy going

My column for the Washington County Daily News is in the paper today. Go buy a copy, but here’s a snippet:

Finally, unlike the previous governor, Walker actively recruits businesses to move to Wisconsin. There is no doubt that had it not been for Walker aggressively recruiting Foxconn, that multibillion-dollar investment would have gone to another state. Walker not only asked for the business, he closed the deal. A lesser governor would not have succeeded.

Wisconsin’s economy has made a complete turnaround under Walker and is heading in the right direction. It is a mistake to think that the state’s economy will continue in that direction under Tony Evers. Leadership matters and Wisconsin’s economy needs Walker to remain at the helm.

Walker Facing Tough Race

Interesting that The Guardian is covering the Wisconsin election – and that they sought out Charlie Sykes as their primary local political analyst.

Sykes pointed to another potential problem. Walker’s base lies in the suburban counties that surround Milwaukee, areas that have typically given him more than 70% of the vote. But in those counties in 2016, Trump ran far behind other Republican candidates.

Sykes also said, however, that despite the fact Walker is behind, the Republican’s campaign is “comfortable being exactly where they are right now”. He looked back to 2014, when “everybody really thought [Walker] was in trouble and he did just fine”.

Sykes noted that Walker’s campaign is staffed with veterans of electoral dogfights. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a state Republican strategist echoed such thinking, saying the governor was “sailing into a pretty big storm but he’s built a pretty good ship”.

Walker, Sykes concluded, has “been through all of this before and Tony Evers has not”.

Walker Administration to Levy Tax Increase on October 1st

Booooo

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration plans to expand collection of taxes for online purchases by Oct. 1 as permitted by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

How it will do so — and whether small retailers might be exempt from having to collect and remit taxes for online sales — remains unclear, because the administration isn’t addressing those details yet.

Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg said “we plan to start collections on Oct. 1” but referred other questions to the Department of Revenue, which oversees tax collections.