The following is a guest blog from Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha:
Governor Walker’s budget is law. Now what?
By State Rep. Peter Barca
The budget signed into law today by Gov. Walker that shamelessly attacks Wisconsin’s shared values and middle class families is certainly a dark chapter in our state’s proud history. But we must remember that it is always darkest before the dawn.
In Gov. Walker’s veto message released today, he attacked struggling Wisconsinites who have lost their jobs by “applauding” his fellow Republicans for their “decisive action” that requires laid off Wisconsin workers to wait one week before they can receive benefits that help put food on their family’s dinner tables while they look for work in one of the worst economies in generations.
The evidence is clear that Gov. Walker and his fellow Republicans believe that the only path they have to hold on to power is to govern Wisconsin in secret and keep their radical agenda away from the light of the Wisconsin people. From passing the budget legislation at 3:00 a.m. to signing it into law on a Sunday hidden away from the public on private property, Gov. Walker has gone out of his way to limit public scrutiny of his extreme agenda. In a startling number of Gov. Walker’s budget vetoes, he used the power of his pen to eliminate provisions of his budget that require reporting or legislative oversight — further consolidating power in his administration and reducing accountability.
Gov. Walker’s budget attacks middle-class families by shifting taxpayer funding away from public schools and giving it to unaccountable, unproven voucher schools. It raises taxes on seniors who want to stay in their homes. It slashes funding for universities and job retraining programs at technical schools. (Another irony – Gov. Walker is signing his budget at a business that needs tech college training for its jobs.) It passes the buck to local communities, forcing them to make the tough cuts in local services while Governor Walker consolidates more power and more taxpayer money within his administration.
Further proving that Gov. Walker will say or do anything to deceive Wisconsinites for his own political gain, he repeatedly broke his own campaign promises in this budget. He promised he wouldn’t raise property taxes. He did. He promised he wouldn’t raid funds or hike fees. He did both. He promised not to hide policy in his budget. He did. And he promised he wouldn’t increase state spending. He did – by $1.1 billion.
Gov. Walker will try to claim victory today, but he knows that he would never have been elected, let alone been able to pass this disastrous budget, if he had been transparent and honest with the hard-working people of Wisconsin during his campaign.
But dawn is coming.
In a little more than a month, Wisconsinites in six Republican-controlled senate districts will give Gov. Walker a much needed lesson on the shared values of our state and democracy’s inherent desire for open, transparent and honest government.
To take back our state legislature and to build our case for recalling Gov. Walker and Republican senators in the months ahead, we must continue to pull back the shroud of darkness and secrecy they have imposed on our state – we have to provide the sunlight that will ultimately disinfect Wisconsin of their radical and misguided agenda.
We must continue to tell the stories of struggling middle-class, working Wisconsinites that will suffer additional hardships as a result of Gov. Walker’s poor budget choices and his assault on worker rights. We must continue to expose the special favors and abuse of power that is rampant throughout the Walker Administration. We must clearly articulate our plans to expand opportunity and prosperity while protecting our shared Wisconsin values.
And most importantly, we must continue the fight to ensure that Wisconsin values are restored and preserved for future generations.
Wisconsin’s bloggers have been the tip of the spear in the battle to bring openness and transparency to this fight and I look forward to working with bloggers across our state to restore worker rights and the shared values that have always made Wisconsin great.