Governor Scott Walker has changed Wisconsin
His success in Wisconsin will change America. What was once thought an unattainable ceiling on possible Republican accomplishments has now become the floor for any Republican competing for national leadership in the GOP.
Walker led the effort to forbid state or local governments from withholding labor union dues from the paychecks of public sector workers, including teachers. Walker’s law forbids public sector unions from negotiating on health benefits, pensions, work rules or pay raises above the rate of inflation.
In one key law, Walker stopped one of the most corrupt practices: unions taking money from workers in dues and spending it on political activity. Dues can run from $500 to $1,000 per year. That is real campaign finance reform. It protects government workers from being looted. It protects all Wisconsinites from having their tax dollars recycled through the union to the Democratic Party to pushing for yet bigger government to continue the cycle.
Walker has set a high bar against which to measure the other 29 Republican governors.
The next Republican candidate for president will have to pass the “Walker Test.”
Walker’s reforms changed the balance of power, the correlation of forces between taxpayers and statists in Wisconsin: a traditionally blue/left-of-center state. Walker showed those reforms could survive a counterattack by every union in the nation focused like a laser on crushing liberty in one state before it could spread.
Walker won his election in 2010. The Left tried to defeat him by winning a Supreme Court race that could have undone his reforms. They failed. The left tried to recall Walker himself—and failed. In 2012, Walker and his Republican majorities in the Wisconsin House and Senate remain in power. Stronger than ever. Tested by fire.
- Walker did it first.
- Walker did it in a blue state.
- Walker defended his progress in three elections.
- Walker kept his legislative majorities intact.
- Walker’s model is scalable. His reform can be implemented in all of the 24 other states with Republican governors and a Republican legislature. He has a raised a standard that all Republicans can follow to success.
He has left no excuses for other Republicans who would offer themselves for state or national leadership.
By taking forced union dues off the table Walker has begun to correct an imbalance between taxpayers and the state. By allowing contracts to reform government worker pensions, Walker has ended the game where today’s politician gets yesterday’s dues money in payment for signing contracts that promise gold-plated pensions for a few at the expense of all taxpayers in a rapidly approaching tomorrow. The greatest source of unfunded liabilities at the state level has been reformed.
Walker’s reforms in Wisconsin will save Wisconsin taxpayers $3 billion dollars in the short run. Many more in the long run. Further good news is that his reforms will save Americans living in other states billions as the Walker reforms spread from state to state. Even taxpayers in Illinois and California can benefit from the Walker reforms simply by moving from Illinois and California to one of the red states that follows the Walker model.
Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.