From from Jordan Hansen for 54th State Assembly, via the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin:
Scott Walker’s State of the State Address was one mostly filled with political filler; a speech filled with 25 minutes of facts and half-truths about the “successes” of the last few years of Republican leadership. The final 15 minutes, however, was full of new policy proposals, some good and some bad, meant to “Move Wisconsin Forward.”
One of these “successes” was his commitment to “continue to weed out waste, fraud, and abuse to make government more effective, more efficient, and more accountable.” Certainly this is something that everyone can agree with in theory, but, on paper, Walker and the Republicans have shown this to not be the case.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, or WEDC, continues to exist and function, and is quite possibly the single largest crony scheme in state history. The WEDC systematically funnels taxpayer dollars into the hands of big businesses with little accountability or oversight, and, instead of fixing the root of the problem, the failing WEDC, the Republicans and Democrats in Madison are trying to patch it up by raising the penalty for defrauding the WEDC to a class E felony. When you have a wound, you don’t try to soak up all the blood, you stop the bleeding. If Walker were serious about fighting corruption and wasteful use of taxpayer dollars, he’d also be serious about abolishing the WEDC.
Walker goes on to promote his new, rather progressive, education policies, which he claims will be funded through a reform of the state employee health care system. However, at this point, this is nothing but another political promise, as this saved money exists in theory, not on paper, and is critical to the success of his new proposals. The fact that Walker claims he can reform the state employee healthcare system is indicative of his less that stellar attempt at reducing government waste, which has obviously fallen short.
When talking about college affordability, Walker is quick to point to the 4 years of frozen tuition at University of Wisconsin system schools, but, fails to address the real problem: Federal Government intervention. With the student loan crisis growing daily, Walker’s new solutions are to work with the UW system to offer a quasi-associates degree, a 3-year degree of sorts that has yet to be proven, along with more grants and a full income tax deduction of student loan interest, which, for that vast majority of college students, who are making below the minimum state income tax threshold, will offer zero savings they aren’t already seeing.
Sticking with Walker’s string of progressive policies, another interesting, progressive, new policy, to go along with his education reforms, is a policy that will funnel taxpayer dollars into offering better quality internet to the rural reaches of Wisconsin. While well intended in practice, this is nothing but hot air, as the economic impact of moderately increasing internet speeds to a small minority of people is surely minimal.
Walker’s address was not full of only negative policies, rhetoric, and proposals. Walker is right in pointing out that his administration has lowered both property and income taxes significantly, and unemployment has dropped significantly. Walker also touted his balanced budget, $135 million surplus, and fully funded pension system. These are steps in the right direction, no doubt, but small ones, at best. Walker closed his address by mentioning that our nation was “built on the principle of freedom.”
However, many of us at the Libertarian Party believe that Walker’s reforms don’t go far enough, and rarely defend or protect those principles of freedom. In 2016, Wisconsinites still cannot purchase raw milk, sell homemade baked goods, or use recreational marijuana. In 2016, thousands of Wisconsin families continue to be torn apart by the war on drugs and the mass incarceration machine that profits from and fuels it. In 2016, Wisconsin is still starved for freedom and the liberties our founding fathers enshrined for us in the Constitution. In 2016, Wisconsinites are still looking for our path forward to freedom.
Jordan Hansen is a graduating senior at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and is running as a Libertarian Party candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly in the 54th District (Oshkosh).