July 16, 2016

Reading between Walker’s lines

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

This week, Governor Scott Walker made his presidential campaign announcement. I hope you were listening very carefully, because he isn’t known to be a straight shooter.

I have learned a lot about Walker, having run against him for Milwaukee County Executive in 2008 and now serving in the State Senate while he is Governor. One of the most important things I’ve learned about him is that you have to pay very close attention to what he says, and more importantly, to what he does.  

In 2008, he told people our county structures were sound. Later, a piece of a parking ramp broke off, fell on a group of people killing 15-year-old Jared Kellner and injuring others. Walker’s response? He refused to release some of the emails associated with the incident.

When he was first campaigning for Governor, do you remember him running around talking about busting unions and turning Wisconsin into one of the most divided states in America? Of course you don’t. Because Walker wasn’t talking publicly about “divide and conquer.” Don’t you find it strange then, that one of Governor Walker’s landmark pieces of legislation was never a featured topic on the campaign trail? That is because that’s not his style. As a candidate, Walker says what people want to hear. As an elected official, he does whatever he wants.

Now, Governor Walker is on a new campaign trail. In announcing his bid for the Presidency on Monday, he became the 15th candidate seeking the Republican nomination. Walker spoke in front of supporters in Waukesha, WI and cited his leadership here in Wisconsin as a blueprint for what he plans to accomplish in Washington. What he didn’t say is that his leadership divided our state so much that Wisconsin was the scene of a controversial recall election that became a political battleground, pitting neighbors against neighbors.

In his announcement, Walker showcased his changes to education as Governor. He followed up his bragging by proudly displaying a dollar bill, saying “Think about it: where would you rather spend your dollar – in Washington or at your child’s school?” Yes, Governor Scott Walker held up a dollar and insinuated he supports investing in education.

This is where you have to read between the lines. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Walker’s track record on public education is abysmal. Governor Walker just made a $250 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System under his current budget. He also made the largest cut to K-12 public education in the history of Wisconsin in a previous budget. After three Walker budgets, Wisconsin is still spending less on public education than we did under his predecessor.

I believe if you asked a public school teacher in Wisconsin, they would agree; Walker’s holding up a dollar is symbolic of how cheap he’s been when it comes to investing in public schools. Here’s what we’ve gotten from Walker’s refusal to put money where his mouth is; ACT exam scores have not improved while 85 percent of K-8 students in Milwaukee do not read at grade level.

While Governor Scott Walker held up a dollar bill with one hand during his speech, what you may not have noticed is where his other hand was; in the hip pocket of the Koch brothers, who are bankrolling his presidential run. The least he could have done was held up a twenty.