Letter: Under Walker, Budget Went From Red to Black
To the Editor-
In an 1808 letter, President Jefferson lamented to a friend, “I assume that any public official whose political morals have shown true integrity and has enough courage to live by them must always expect to face political hatred from those who reject those morals” (paraphrased).
Again, we see that truth playing out here in Wisconsin.
When politicians don’t fulfill their promises we scream, “they’re all liars.” But when Scott Walker did precisely what he pledged he would do—to get the state budget back in the black; to free schools to educate and teachers to be able to rely on their pension at retirement; to give back to the taxpayers some of their own tax money—we tried to yank him out of office. How dare he?
Today, our state budget has turned from red to black. Our school boards can budget based on actual need rather than on union-mandated contracts. Our teachers and other public employees can count on the ONLY fully-funded pension plan in the nation. Our parents can send their seniors to college without the usual tuition increase.
In less than four years we’ve added 100,000 new jobs with 170,000 unfilled openings. Our state ranking on the annual list of the “Best & Worst States for Business” has jumped from a low of #43 in 2008—immediately following Mary Burke’s years as Commerce Secretary—to #14 this year. (CEO Magazine, which conducts the study, called Wisconsin’s comeback “a meteoric thrust,” the second-fastest climb in the U.S, behind only oil-rich Louisiana.)
Conversely, in a June 2009 story (“Wisconsin Flunks Its Economics Test”), the nonpartisan Wisconsin Public Policy Institute noted that during the Doyle/Burke years, “the state failed to create new jobs while descending to Alabama-level wages.” That decline began, says WPPI, in 2005—coincidentally (?), the year Mary Burke became Commerce Secretary. So, in the 3 full years when Ms. Burke was in charge of our state’s business climate job numbers declined exponentially.
More bad news for Ms. Burke: WPPI also pointed out that Wisconsin’s per capita income grew steadily as a percentage of the U.S. Average from 1990 to 2002 (Doyle elected). Our economy had outpaced the U.S. average from 1988 until 2005 (Burke’s first year). And the state’s unemployment rate “beat the national average for 18 years—ending in 2006” (Burke’s second year).
Predictably, Doyle/Burke’s jobs numbers were routinely doubted by their peers. In 2008, a few months following Burke’s tenure, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis sarcastically called the Doyle administration’s method of calculating employment statistics “rosy or smoky.”
I’m sure Mary Burke is a caring person, a fine role model. But is she qualified to continue Wisconsin’s Walker-led economic surge? Ask yourself what would happen if she reversed the policies that have, like it or not, reinvigorated our prospects for prosperity. Then ask yourself the same question Ronald Reagan famously posed in 1980, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
If you live in Wisconsin, the numbers suggest that you are.