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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rose to national prominence on the back of his effort to reform public union collective bargaining rules. After more than 900,000 petition signatures were collected, it led to the first recall election in Wisconsin history in 2012, which Walker won by a wider margin than his original 2010 election. He was reelected by a 6 percentage point margin in 2014.
Before running for governor, Walker served five terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and later won two terms as Milwaukee County Executive, becoming the first and only Republican to hold the office. Walker attended Marquette University, but left before graduation to take a job with the Red Cross. If elected President, he would be the first without a college degree since Harry Truman.
His signature legislation, Act 10, limited public employee union bargaining to base wages, and prohibited any union agreement from requiring non-union employees to pay dues.
Earlier this year, Walker signed legislation making the historically progressive Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state, ending compulsory unionism.
On Budget and Taxes
Act 10 not only put restrictions on collective bargaining, but to shore up the state’s finances also required increases in public employee worker contributions for their generous health and pension plans. Walker claims the reforms saved taxpayers $3 billion.
The Cato Report Card gave him a B in both 2012 and 2014, a stark improvement over the F is predecessor received in 2010. According to the rankings: “He approved individual income tax cuts in 2013, and followed up with further cuts in 2014….Those cuts, and other income tax reductions, will save Wisconsin residents more than $500 million annually. Walker has also approved substantial property tax relief.” He also signed a law requiring a two-thirds supermajority in both legislative chambers to raise income, sales, or franchise taxes.
While strong on taxes, his record on spending is less impressive. According to the Cato report card, “He did not score as well on spending. His proposed increases have been a bit higher than the average governor, and actual spending increased 4.2 percent in 2013 and an estimated 4.8 percent in 2014.”
Nevertheless, he says “we have a federal government that’s too big to fail. We need a government that’s small enough to succeed. One of the most important ways we can do that is by taking chunks of it and sending it back to the states.”
On Foreign Policy and Security
“The greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terrorism,” according to Gov. Walker. He has called for a more aggressive stance against ISIS, arguing that Americans “need to take the fight to ISIS and any other radical Islamic terrorists anywhere around the world.” Sending American troops into Syria might be “what it takes.”
“The rest of the world needs to know that there is no greater friend and no worse enemy than the United States of America,” he said at the opening of an Iowa bus tour. He has also called for restoring relationships with allies like Israel, saying “we need to make sure that we acknowledge that Israel is an ally, and start treating Israel like an ally in the United States.”
At the RedState Gathering, Walker said that if he became president, he would immediately “terminate” the Iran deal and reinstate sanctions. “Iran is not a place we should be doing business with,” he explained.
Writing at National Review, Walker says that Obamacare should be repealed and “replaced with a plan that will send power back to the people and the states, fix the decades-old problems of rising medical-care and health-insurance costs, and support economic growth instead of punishing workers and small businesses.”
He says that his plan, when released, will address the following flaws of Obamacare: too much government interference, fewer options, higher coverage costs, mandates that harm workers and the economy, unsustainable spending, and its waste, fraud and abuse.
On Criminal Justice
According to the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner, “Walker ran for governor of Wisconsin as an old-fashioned ‘law and order’ Republican… Bills that Walker sponsored while a legislator would have increased mandatory minimum sentences for everything from perjury to privacy invasion to intoxicated boating. He was perhaps the leading backer of Wisconsin’s ‘Truth in Sentencing’ legislation, which ended parole opportunities for many categories of prisoners and increased prison time for others. As governor, Walker has resisted efforts to liberalize the state’s parole system, and the proportion of inmates granted parole has fallen in half during his tenure.”
He recently dismissed concerns with Wisconsin’s handling of nonviolent offenders, saying “The challenges in terms of people being incarcerated for relatively low offenses is not a significant issue in the state of Wisconsin.” However, he did acknowledge “nationally, that’s something we need to look at.”
Walker calls it a “moral imperative” that students have access to a great education regardless of their zip code. His latest budget lifted the cap on vouchers and provided for the conversion of the worst performing public schools into independent charter schools. He also opposed Common Core.
Beginning his Iowa bus tour, Walker said, “Every child deserves access to a great education. Be it in a traditional public, a charter, a choice, a private, virtual or a home-school environment. That’s why to me, I want high standards. But I want them set at the local levels. No Common Core, no nationwide school board.”
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On Government Transparency
In an interview with Breitbart’s Big Government, touted his record on fighting cronyism and influence peddling: “We’ve made huge strides in Wisconsin in creating open and transparent government. For the first time in state history, voters have real time access through our Open Book website to state spending and contracts all the way down to expenditures of $100. We’ve been rated as one of the most transparent state governments, in part because of our Open Book initiative. As governor I also signed into law an earmark transparency requirement, so that every budget earmark must be listed, with the beneficiary of the pork, before the budget is signed. In addition, we’ve created Offices of Inspector General in our state agencies to search out fraudulent activity.”
Walker called the ruling requiring recognition of same-sex marriages a “grave mistake.” He called for a constitutional amendment to allow states to define marriage. However, he said as President he would take a “realistic” approach focusing on defending religious liberties. He supports the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prevent the federal government from punishing individuals or businesses due to their beliefs on marriage.
In Wisconsin Walker signed a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks. “At five months, that’s the time when that unborn child can feel pain, he said. “When an unborn child can feel pain, we should be protecting that child.”
After the Republican debate, Walker said, “I believe that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there…and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected and there are many other alternatives that will also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has a radical position in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago, long before any of these videos came out. I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.”
Walker acknowledges that he used to support “amnesty,” but no longer does because he learned more about the issue, including from border governors. In 2006 he signed a resolution supporting the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill that included amnesty, but told Chris Wallas this year that, “My view has changed, I’m flat-out saying it. I don’t believe in amnesty, and part of the reason that I made that a firm position is because I look at the way this president has mishandled that issue.”
Striking a populist tone, he says immigration decisions need to be “based on, first and foremost, protecting American workers and American wages.” And in an interview with Glenn Beck he argued, “No amnesty, if someone wants to be a citizen, they have to go back to their country of origin and get in line behind everybody else who’s been waiting.”
On Energy and the Environment
Walker has signed a “no climate tax” pledge, promising to “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”
During his 2015 State of the State address, he said, “Top-down regulations and mandates from the federal government get in the way of innovation and growth in Wisconsin and states like ours. Therefore, I am working with our new Attorney General to prepare a lawsuit challenging the newly proposed federal energy regulations.”
On Gun Rights
Walker is an avid hunter and has an “A+” rating from the National Rifle Association. He signed legislation to allow concealed carry in Wisconsin, and criticized President Obama in a speech at the NRA’s annual meeting: “Sometimes I think that the current occupant in the White House forgets that when the president is sworn in he takes an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ Well Mr. President, the Second Amendment is part of the constitution. You don’t get to pick and choose which part of the constitution you support. Preserving, protecting and defending it is not optional. It’s mandatory.”
Walker argues that “true freedom and prosperity do not come from the mighty hand of the government. They come from empowering people to live their own lives and control their own destinies with the dignity that comes from work.” He is suing the federal government to establish that states have the authority to drug test food stamp recipients.
Read more about Election 2016.
This report is for informational purposes only. Nothing within should be construed as endorsement by the author of either the candidate or his positions on the issues.
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