While Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker refuses to publicly regret his 2010 campaign promise to add 250,000 new private sector jobs to the state, despite the fact that Wisconsin will not even come close to meeting his promised goal, deeper questions must be asked about how well Gov. Walker manages state government when he operates under false premises. As Politifact amply describes, with very little time left for Gov. Walker to meet his goal, it is clear that he will not do so, having only created 102,813 new private sector jobs in over 3 1/2 years on the job, not even half-way towards keeping his promise.
While the public may be jaded and routinely assume that politicians will make empty promises they will not keep, this particular promise has implications which suggest that Gov. Walker’s overly rosy view of his ability to improve Wisconsin’s economy has resulted in a gigantic budget deficit. Earlier this year, Gov. Walker called the legislature into a special session when his optimistic economic outlook was that the Wisconsin State budget would have a $1 billion surplus. To curry favor with the voters and the business community, he pushed for and his Republican dominated legislature delivered an over $800 million tax cut.
At the time, some in the Wisconsin business community questioned the fiscal soundness of giving so much money away so quickly. Their fears have proven true only months later, with the announcement that Wisconsin is now facing a $1.8 billion deficit.
Gov. Walker can certainly try to spin his way out of this double dose of bad news. What he cannot explain is why the public should re-elect a governor who routinely relies on wildly inaccurate economic forecasts. As his opponent, business executive Mary Burke stated in response to the deficit announcement.
“In the business world, if a CEO created this big of a financial mess, he would be fired.”
In a democracy, voters have a unique opportunity at election time to hold their political leaders accountable for their performance. In this case, voters must weigh not only whether they want to re-elect a Governor who came woefully short of a cornerstone promise of his initial election campaign, but perhaps more importantly, whether they want to re-elect a Governor who routinely relies on overly rosy economic forecasts in setting the state’s budget, resulting in an a fiscal mess for the state.
For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.