Scott Walker’s week is quickly nose-diving into another disaster for the governor. Frustrated with his continued absence from important budget decisions, Wisconsin Republicans aren’t wavering on their rejection of the governor’s “crap budget.” Meanwhile, Walker’s flagship jobs program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), still can’t get taxpayers’ money back from the outsourcing company it loaned it to. Already receiving criticism for phoning it in, these latest developments promise to ruin the very reputation Walker is counting on to win.
While Scott Walker’s fellow Republicans were grousing about his budget plan and part of his proposal to overhaul higher education, the governor was more than 1,000 miles away, gripping the wheel of the Mt. Washington cruise boat on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee.
And when lawmakers met Monday night to reach a final deal on other elements of that budget, the likely presidential candidate was in Canada on his fourth international trip in less than five months.
Absentee governors are part of the political landscape when a presidential campaign begins and some want to run. There’s no getting around the need to raise money, make national appearances and organize early in important states. What may distinguish Walker, though, is the grief he’s getting from his own party.
One GOP lawmaker has dissed his spending plan as a “crap budget,” and it gets worse than merely a rhetorical slap.While Walker has been courting voters, party activists and donors in advance of his expected announcement that he’s running for the 2016 party nomination, state GOP lawmakers, in concert with Democrats, have crushed some of his biggest ideas this year.
And that works against one clear advantage governors like Walker can bring to national politics — a record of achievement in public policy that many candidates coming from the Byzantine, often gridlocked chambers of Congress can’t match.
In Wisconsin, however, lawmakers voted to restore money the governor wanted to cut for K-12 schools. They rejected his proposed changes to a popular prescription drug program for Medicaid recipients, scrapped a merger of state agencies he wanted and voted against the governor’s plan to make the University of Wisconsin system independent of state laws and oversight.
Now it’s a struggle to find agreement on Walker’s proposed $1.3 billion in borrowing for roads, likely to be reduced, and a financing plan for a new $500 million arena to keep the Milwaukee Bucks from leaving the state. “We may have a crap budget, but we’re going to make it better,” freshman Republican state Rep. Rob Brooks told fellow lawmakers in May.
In late May, he courted party activists aboard a sunset dinner cruise as a legislative committee back home rejected his plan to give the University of Wisconsin more independence or cut state support for it by $300 million. But the panel did agree on $250 million in cuts to the 26 campuses, including the flagship in Madison.
“We are bowing to the pressure of a guy on a boat in New Hampshire,” Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said during that debate. “He’s not out there extolling the virtues of his idea of cutting $300 million from the university system because he’d probably be thrown off the boat. You don’t brag about the cuts.”
Despite instructions from Gov. Scott Walker to seek an “immediate remedy” to recover state money given to a company that is outsourcing state jobs to Mexico for the second time in three years, officials with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) told 27 News late Friday that there is “nothing to report at this time” on those efforts.
Gov. Walker made those comments after a WEDC board meeting in late April, just three days after 27 News broke a story that the Eaton Corporation is outsourcing 93 jobs from its Watertown manufacturing facility to its plant in Tijuana, Mexico. Eaton plans to lay those workers off throughout the year with all of the positions being transferred to Mexico by December 31.
But on Friday, WEDC Spokesperson Mark Maley made it clear that attempts to claw back some of the $370,000 in tax credits the agency has awarded Eaton Corp. since 2012 have been unsuccessful thus far.
A 27 News investigation from July 2014 found that Eaton Corp. had received over $190,000 in WEDC tax credits at that time, despite laying off 163 employees…
Published: Jun 16, 2015