The establishment press first went for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie???s throat. The attacks may not be fatal, but they put Christie off his game and delayed and maybe ended his opportunity to become the prohibitive favorite for the 2016 Republican nomination.
Now they are coming for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
This week all the Republican governors are meeting in Washington D.C. for the Republican Governors Association annual meeting. But it might be best understood as the first caucus???two years before Iowa. Christie, Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Sam Brownback and Mike Pence are all governors who could credibly run for President based on their policy and political successes in their respective states.
So how is Scott Walker responding to the establishment left???s coming attacks?
He is cutting taxes in Wisconsin. Again.
Walker announced a series of tax cuts totaling more than $800 million in this year???s budget: a $406 million cut in property taxes and $100 million in lower income taxes. The property tax cut will save the average homeowner $100 over last year. The personal income tax will be cut by reducing the lowest income tax bracket from 4.4 percent to 4.0 percent. Every family will receive a tax cut of about $58 per year.
In addition, the state will reduce its withholding tax for state income taxes saving taxpayers $322.6 million each year. This will save the average family of four about $58 each month.
The leadership of the Republican House and Senate have both endorsed the size and shape of the tax cuts.
This is possible because of the success of Walker’s policies that were enacted over the violent opposition of the labor unions and left in Wisconsin three years ago.
The success of his reforms led to this year???s budget surplus of $912 million. After the tax cuts Wisconsin will be able to add $100 million to the rainy day fund, or as the State Senate prefers, held against contingencies. The governor???s proposal would better protect taxpayers.
These tax cuts added to the tax cuts in the past three years add up to $2 billion in tax relief since Governor Walker took over three years ago.
Three years ago it would have been hard to imagine today???s good news. When Scott Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the November gubernatorial election in 2010, the state faced a $3.6 billion budget deficit. The former Democrat Governor Jim Doyle and Democrat legislature had repeatedly tried to ???fix??? the deficit by adding on job killing taxes that slowed growth and job creation in the state. Wisconsin lost 133,000 jobs in the previous governor???s term.
Good policy pays off.
Scott Walker did not try to balance the budget with one-time gimmicks or across the board spending cuts that would cut both muscle and fat, punishing necessary programs while failing to reform government failures.
Act 10 was the signature legislation that reformed the state???s public sector labor laws. No longer could unions have local governments take union dues (sometimes reaching $1,000 per worker earning $50,000) from their paychecks and hand it over to the union bosses. Act 10 required that any payment of union dues be made voluntary. Union bosses would have to learn to ask for dues money rather than have someone else pick the workers??? pockets. Unions would be limited in what they could negotiate. No more negotiating labor union agreements with gold-plated pensions that taxpayers could never afford. No more union control of the work rules. Schools would be run by principles and school board, not labor union officials. And benefits would not be part of negotiations. Unions under Act 10 can negotiate pay raises up to the inflation rate.
Schools can hire and fire to have the most competent teachers. Excellent teaching and education???not union make-work rules???will be the goal of Wisconsin schools.
All local government was freed from more than $2 billion in imposed costs and local governments found that even with lower state funding they were better off. Good teachers would no longer be threatened with losing their jobs to a lousy teacher due to seniority rules.
Teachers were no longer forced to buy insurance from a monopoly insurance company that the unions profited from. Millions were saved by teachers and the union lost one of its profitable income lines at the expense of teachers.
Tens of thousands of union activists demonstrated around and in the State Capitol three years ago. Scott Walker and the Republican House and Senate held their ground and reformed state government. Now teachers, students, and taxpayers are reaping the benefits of governing well.
And once again the left will try and defeat Scott Walker. Walker is the only Governor who has been elected twice already in the last three years. Once in 2010 and once again when the unions got the signatures to force a recall election that Walker won. The left understands that Walker’s continued success in Wisconsin is a rebuke to the progressive movement and the strengthening of a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016. The name-calling has started on social media. Watch for the heavy artillery from the New York Times.
Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform. Follow him on Twitter at @GroverNorquist