Wisconsin GOP not keen on Gov Walker's presidential campaign

politics | Jul 13, 2015 | By Martin Barillas

Before his expected July 13 official launch of his presidential campaign, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker confirmed via Twitter that he is indeed seeking the GOP nomination. A nemesis of organized labor, Walker has already staked out positions on issues such as border security, immigration, foreign policy, taxation and the economy, that place him squarely in the conservative camp of the Republican party. He is expected to confirm this posture a fiscal conservative who seeks to reduce taxes and government spending. 

Among fiscal conservatives, Walker may have some fence-mending to do. For example, he has been pushing for an expenditure of $250 million in public funds to partner with the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball franchise to build a new arena in Milwaukee. Walker has argued that replacing, rather than reconditioning, the current area is the more fiscally conservative approach. The state's contribution is capped at $250 million. Similar sports venues have been known to go far over budget in the past. With a public relations pitch proclaiming “Cheaper To Keep Them,” Walker has argued “The price of ‘no’ has a cost, and we believe it’s at least $419 million dollars over the next 20 years.”  Of the $250 million in taxpayers' funds, $80 million will come from Wisconsin taxpayers, generally. The remainder will come from "a variety of sources at the local level,” said the youthful Republican.

 

In a recent newspaper column, Charlie Sykes - an influential conservative talk radio host in Milwaukee - wrote “The stark political reality is that the proposal is a $250 million taxpayer subsidy for the Bucks and their billionaire owners in a budget rife with cuts for other programs.”  He added, "It's a hot mess." Other critics say that Walker is cutting funds from public education to subsidize the basketball business. The funding of the arena was controversial enough to nearly derail the passage of Walker's two-year state budget proposal. Republican legislators were squarely together in questioning Walker's budget priorities, as were Democrats. “It was put together by the governor to help his presidential prospects with the most far-right-wing group of his party, and it reflects those values perfectly,” said state Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D) at a news conference. “I suspect that’s why he’s leading in Iowa. He’s at the top of the polls there . . . but in Wisconsin, meanwhile, he’s at 41 percent approval.”

When he introduced his budget in February 2015, he called it “Our Freedom and Prosperity proposal,” promising that it will “help restore that American Dream right here in Wisconsin.” He seeks to freeze college tuition hikes, reduce the size of state government, reduce property taxes, and consolidate economic development efforts. 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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