I was torn. It was November 4, 2014 and I was standing in the voting booth, unable to decide who should run this great state. At that moment, I thought about what was most important to me, and I decided it was education. In this respect, Gov. Scott Walker seemed like the logical choice; Walker was the first governor to enact a tuition freeze to combat skyrocketing tuition hikes and at times he even offered to increase the UW System budget. So with that in mind, I cast my vote for Walker, and now I would like to apologize to the state of Wisconsin.
Two years ago, when Walker recommended the UW System should get an additional $181 million in taxpayer money, it seemed like he really cared about education, specifically higher education, and wanted to improve it within this state. Along the same lines, when legislators discovered the UW System was running on a huge surplus and Walker enacted the first tuition freeze, it seemed like Walker was doing the right thing. It seemed like he truly cared about students and the UW System. With the extension of the tuition freeze in April of last year, it appeared like Walker was cementing his belief that education is extremely important and is a priority to this state. But when, candidate Walker decided to create a budget slashing state funding to the UW System, it became clear that the state of Wisconsin is just a pawn in his political game.
Walker’s 2015-17 biennial budget plan has nothing to do with the continual growth of this state, but has everything to do with the continual growth of candidate Walker’s political future. To advance his career, it is clear he is currently attempting to court the conservative, right-wing base for his probable run at the presidency in 2016. This year’s budget proposal, including the $300 million cut to the UW System, goes against previous rationale that he has used when passing bills like Act 10 — this rationale being that he supports and wants to increase the quality of the state’s education system. While the changes might hurt in the short-term, Walker always maintained that the system would be better in the long-run, and I agreed with him.
However, there is almost no way that a $300 million cut in funding to any educational system would help increase, or keep steady, the quality of that educational system. The only logical reason for Walker to do this is that it will help candidate Walker’s chance at the Republican nomination for president. Cutting funding to the UW System helps candidate Walker’s chances because it will be very advantageous for him, as a Republican candidate, to say that his latest state budget ran without a deficit and that he lowered taxes. To make this a reality he slashed state funding for the UW System. My apology is not for the fact that I voted for Walker, and he proposed a budget cut for Wisconsin’s higher education, but more the fact that I voted for Walker thinking he would be the charismatic governor who had the state’s best interests at heart, when in reality I was voting for a presidential candidate whose only goal was to better position himself in the political field.
Within the Wisconsin political field, Walker used the slogan of “Moving Wisconsin Forward.” Now it seems clear that the governor who got more than a million votes, including my own, to run and govern this marvelous state, has backed out of his promise to be governor. Instead Walker has become candidate Walker, and with that conclusion, I am sorry that I voted for candidate Walker.
Luke Schaetzel ([email protected]) is a freshman intending to double major in journalism and political science.