The following editorial was published in Wednesday’s Wisconsin State Journal:Yes indeed, let’s “get things done” in Wisconsin, as Gov. Scott Walker suggested Monday in his inaugural address.
Let’s fix the $2.2 billion shortfall in the next state budget and pay for our roads — without another borrowing binge.
Let’s encourage more improvement and innovation in education — with real accountability for private schools that spend public dollars.
Let’s be bold enough to encourage strategic investment in Wisconsin, despite limited resources. Leveraging more private dollars for entrepreneurs would be a good start.
The Republican governor’s speech Monday was short on specifics but strong in tone, kicking off his second term amid speculation he may run for president.
“In contrast to the politicians along the Potomac, we get things done here in the Badger State,” Walker declared. “There is a clear contrast between Washington and Wisconsin.”
That’s true, though a lot of the difference has to do with balance of power.
Leaders in Washington have to compromise to get most things done, given a Democratic president and Republican-run Congress.
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Here in Wisconsin, Republicans have a lock on power at the statehouse, with larger majorities in both houses of the Legislature, after the fall elections. And unlike in Washington, minority Democrats here can’t tie up the state Senate with filibusters.
That leaves Walker and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature with no excuse for failing to tackle the big stuff. They don’t have to work with the Democrats. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.
“Working together,” Walker said Monday, “I believe we can create a state that is even better than the Wisconsin we grew up in.”
Staying in power — and being a successful leader — often requires listening to your opponents and incorporating some of their best ideas into your own. No politician or political party has the answer to everything. So Walker should strive to live up to his sweeping call Monday for a more cooperative spirit in Madison.
The Legislature should take Walker’s advice and avoid another emotional and divisive argument over the power of unions in Wisconsin. The Republicans already restricted public-sector collective bargaining to little more than inflationary pay. That helped local school and municipal leaders save money on health insurance costs.
But going after private sector unions shouldn’t be the priority.
Wisconsin has big challenges ahead. Republicans should address them in a collaborative way, without needless distractions.