Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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On the race for governor of Wisconsin

Wisconsin-Governor-De_Barg
The Editorial Board can’t find a good reason to endorse either candidate for governor.[/media-credit]

For the past several weeks, we have struggled to decide which candidate is the lesser of two evils in the race for governor of Wisconsin. After taking a long look at the options, we cannot make up our minds on who to support in Tuesday’s election.

Both Scott Walker, the Republican, and Tom Barrett, the Democrat, have given voters a plethora of reasons to think they’re worthy – and unworthy – for the state’s highest office. The election has focused primarily on the gaping hole in the state’s budget, and, tangentially, the necessity of attacking Wisconsin’s unacceptably high unemployment rate.

Tom Barrett advertises his credentials as a pragmatic negotiator state government needs in order to get its finances back on solid ground. To some extent, we agree – Barrett would likely raise taxes to ameliorate the budget deficit, and frankly, we see no problem with that. Additionally, Barrett does not chest-thump on social issues. The same cannot be said of his opponent, who, although he’s keen on hiding it, doesn’t support domestic partnerships and wants to drastically restrict abortion rights.

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But Barrett, despite a plan whose length borders on the soul-deadening, offers few specifics as to how he would actually cut spending. This board is somewhat skeptical that, for example, $175 million dollars can be saved by “moving State Government into the 21st Century with technological upgrades.” If such improvements were really that simple, they would have been implemented long ago. Additionally, Barrett shows a painful unwillingness to seriously tackle prison reform. His plan to put Madison on a “diet” mentions the horrifying increase in prisons spending over the past 25 years, and yet one of his main policy initiatives would be to stop providing “Cadillac” healthcare for inmates. Hardly a bold (or even honest) proposal. And while Barrett’s support of alternative sentencing would indeed be a welcome step in the direction of intelligent prison reform, his silence on the Truth in Sentencing laws that proved such a boon to corrections is deplorable.

We see Scott Walker as an equally, if not more, unpleasant choice. While we do believe Walker would indeed go to war on Wisconsin’s inflated budget, we are not sure he would be remotely capable of using any nuance whatsoever when deciding what to cut. Additionally, as many (god forbid!) European governments have conclusively shown, budget cuts are only one side of the fiscal coin. If Walker were serious about ensuring that a wave of fiscal instability does not substantially damage the state’s prospects, he needs to drop his insistence that he would concurrently slash taxes for every single resident of Wisconsin. We can only pray his office does not extend its frugality to the staff of accounting magicians that would inevitably be necessary to make his overly optimistic promise of 250,000 new jobs come true.

Additionally, Walker’s opposition to embryonic stem cell research is appalling. For a candidate who claims to support jobs, Walker should pay a trifling degree of attention to the millions of dollars the University of Wisconsin receives to conduct this research, instead of pandering to some of the state’s most backward constituencies.

Unlike some races, voters do actually have a serious choice between the main candidates for governor. We’re just not sure you’ll be happy with either of them.

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