On Wednesday afternoon when I walked into the capitol building, I heard the song “We Shall Overcome” echoing through the halls thanks to our capitol singers. I didn’t think much of it, until Governor Scott Walker finished his address and I wondered what these singers were possibly suggesting we overcome.
In his State of the State speech, Walker highlighted many of his major successes during his time in office. Some of his greatest talking points included his historic investments in K-12 education (while Gov. Jim Doyle actually cut funding to K-12 education), all time high employment, investing $3 billion more in the transportation budget than Doyle in the same amount of time, eliminating the state property tax, moving Wisconsin from the bottom ten to the top ten in business, offering more benefits for veterans than any other state, freezing tuition for the UW system for six years in a row, producing a budget surplus (instead of the deficit that existed when Doyle was in office), unemployment dropping from nine percent to three percent during his tenure and much, much more.
If this isn’t enough winning for you, Walker plans to accomplish a lot more in 2018. He plans to expand the Wisconsin Works for Everyone program, which already brought 25,000 people to find jobs since its inception. He also plans on using the budget surplus to offer a $100 per child tax credit which will ease the burden on working families in Wisconsin. In addition, he hopes to help rural communities by increasing sparsity aid for rural school districts, expanding education for farmers, increasing broadband internet access and supporting rural economic development.
Walker also looked to Missouri for plans to improve the Wisconsin Corrections system. He already has begun working with the UW System, Wisconsin Technical College System and private colleges in Wisconsin to make sure there are graduates to fill the many open positions in Wisconsin and hopes to continue this in 2018. According to Walker, there are usually 80,000 to 100,000 job openings on jobcenterforwisconsin.com during any given week. To further solve this problem, he also introduced a common-sense welfare plan that would ensure that able-bodied, working age adults work at least 30 hours per week or enroll in job training. Walker describes this assistance as “trampoline” instead of a “hammock.” Finally, he introduced a plan to stabilize the damage and instability the “Affordable” Care Act caused the healthcare market.
This ambitious agenda highlights many ways to continue the success that Wisconsin has seen under the Walker Administration. But it is important to note that those from both sides of the aisle have an opportunity to get involved in these historic reforms. “These are not Republican or Democrat issues,” Walker said. “These are just Wisconsin issues.” Many of his future plans work to make Wisconsin an even better place to live, work and raise a family and should receive bipartisan support.
In the Wisconsin State Legislature, 90 percent of bills signed into law have bipartisan support. This proves that Republicans and Democrats are able to work together for the benefit of their constituents. Unfortunately, Democratic legislators are not receiving as much support as they should for reaching across the aisle. In a tweet, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin claimed that this fact is “a heartwarming piece of fiction [Walker] just painted for us voters.” It is truly sad that the DPW is attempting to capitalize off of this false statement and encourage a greater partisan divide.
When I left the capitol building, I did not hear, “We Shall Overcome” sung and I’m guessing it’s because the State of the State remains historically strong under Walker’s leadership and will continue to so long as he is elected. It’s easy to forget that the State of our State was not nearly as strong back in 2011 when Walker took office, but after nearly eight years of success, I’m sure that Wisconsin voters will remember these historic reforms as they head to the voting booths this fall.
Alesha Guenther ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication and political science. She is also Deputy Communications Director for College Republicans.