The November 6th general election returned the State to single party control. The State Legislature is again firmly in Republican control with no outward signs of moderating its partisan agenda. This is not surprising since the Republican controlled legislature was able to redraw legislative districts, guaranteeing continued Republican legislative dominance for the next decade.
Governor Scott Walker unveiled a portion of his agenda at a conference in California last week. Some of the opposition is already concerned that he didn’t reveal it within the state but choose to do it out of state. What can be taken away from his brief statement is that his legislative and budget proposal will include reduction in income taxes, reduction in property taxes, broaden the school choice/voucher program, increase accountability of public schools (including public post secondary education), and eliminate same day voter registration.
Without having a detailed proposal; it is only logical to ask exactly what does he have in mind. This appears to be a replay of 2010 all over again. He “dropped the bomb” the following February and set the political landscape ablaze. This tactic, of less than full transparency, will always result in a heightened sense of dread by at least half of the state’s citizens. Just like before, the Republican legislature will simply “rubber stamp” anything the governor proposes. This appears to be more like a tyranny than that of a representative democracy.
Also on the Republican/extreme right’s wish list, just to name a few:
- Turn Wisconsin into a “Right to Work Law” state
- Change the state employees’ fixed benefit retirement system to a variable benefit retirement system
- Pass mining legislation that will further strip the DNR of regulatory power and authority
- Create a toll road system for transportation funding
- Force state workers into the Healthcare Exchange for Healthcare
- Begin an aggressive program of privatizing government services
- Modify the Constitutional Recall or eliminate it altogether
- Convert the Conceal Carry Gun Laws to Constitutional Carry
- Further limit pregnancy termination laws to make it more difficult to obtain an abortion on demand
As these issues and others are proposed and enacted it will energize the opposition, resulting in more political turmoil and partisan extremism. It appears that the Republican majority has lost all will for moderation and is consumed with the total suppression of the opposition. I think, this is a mistake on their part to alienate half of the state. As the national Republican Party just found out in the recent election; the belief that the electorate was right of center and would support their extreme right positions was just plain wrong. The state Republicans also need to understand that they also don’t have a mandate for unlimited extremist actions.
If we are to avoid the public outcry and civil disturbances of the past, I and other moderates implore the political right to approach this next legislative session with caution and resist the temptation of extremism.