Scott Walker on Jobs
Republican Wisconsin Governor
WALKER: Well, the voters in Wisconsin elected me last year for the third time because they wanted someone who aimed high, not aimed low. Before I came in, the unemployment rate was over eight percent. It's now down to 4.6 percent. We've more than made up for the jobs that were lost during the recession. And the rate in which people are working is almost five points higher than it is nationally. You know, people like Hillary Clinton think you grow the economy by growing Washington. [But] one of the best things we can do is get the government out of the way. That's what I'll do as president, just like I did in Wisconsin.
The passage of right to work marked a shift in Walker's position. The governor said repeatedly during the intense battle over Act 10--his 2011 law that repealed most collective bargaining for public workers--that he would not let legislation affecting private-sector unions reach his desk.
Walker signed the bill at a Milwaukee area factory, saying it represented "one more big tool" for attracting businesses and investment to the state. "This sends a powerful message across the country and across the world," Walker said. "'Wisconsin is Open For Business' now is more than just a slogan. It's a way of doing business."
During the 2012 recall election pushed by public employee unions, Democrats repeatedly said that Walker would eventually take on private-sector unions as well. The governor dismissed that talk about right-to-work legislation as political spin. "It's not going to get to my desk," Walker said in May 2012. "I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it isn't there because my focal point [is] private-sector unions have overwhelmingly come to the table to be my partner in economic development."
When Senate Republicans committed to moving forward with the measure on Feb. 20, however, Walker quickly said he would sign it.
Overall, Walker looked confident. His speech was enthusiastically received. And toward the end, there was even a bit of a spontaneous "moment," when Walker said Wisconsin was about to become a right-to-work state, and a protester began shouting. Walker yelled in response, "Those voices can't drown out the voices of millions of Americans who want us to stand up for the hardworking taxpayers!" The audience stood up and roared with applause.
WALKER: Any discussion about this should be focused on what sort of reforms are we going to put in place [for] people looking for work. Well, the federal government doesn't require a lot. We just made a change last year so that people had to look five times or more a week for work without our requirement change. They could go as little as two times a week. If I was out of work, I'd be looking more than twice a week for a job. I'd be looking for every day except maybe today. I take Sunday off to go to church and pray that I could find a job on Monday, but I think there need to be reforms in that system.
WALKER: You know, again, I look at that. Years ago, I worked at McDonald's when I was a kid. Actually, Paul Ryan worked down the road from me in Janesville. I worked in a small town called Delavan. Those were great jobs to start out with. My great fear is for young people like Paul and I were back then and my kids a few years ago when they worked those sorts of jobs, they'd be without work. We have a high unemployment rate amongst young people. If we are to raise that artificially, we'd take that away. Instead, what we need to focus on is helping people find the skills they need to fill much better paying jobs, those family-supporting career-type jobs. Artificially raising the minimum wage whether it's at the state or the federal level is not going to do that. Creating an environment where employers create jobs will do just that.
For unions, this was the core of their opposition. Paycheck protection gave government workers the right to choose whether or not to join a union and pay union dues. The unions didn't want them to have that choice.
Once the WI supreme court upheld Act 10, and the paycheck protection provision went into effect, many public workers did in fact decide to keep the money. In August 2011 "the statewide teachers union issued layoff notices to 42 employees, about 40% of its staff." In March 2011, when we passed our reforms, membership in AFSCME stood at 62,818. A year later, membership had fallen to 28,745.
Ever since 1978, when President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Civil Service Reform Act, collective bargaining for federal employees has been severely limited. Today, federal workers cannot bargain for benefits or wages, and cannot be compelled to join a union or pay union dues. I don't recall President Obama suggesting that they were being abused in any way, or lifting a finger to right this supposed injustice. To the contrary, Obama unilaterally froze their pay--and he didn't have to get permission from a union steward to do it. If limiting collective bargaining in WI constituted an "attack on unions," then why didn't the president champion giving collective bargaining powers to workers at the federal level?
Barrett said voters should read between the lines on that answer. "Mark my words, he'll sign it," Barrett said. "He would have a fall from grace with the far right if he would say he's going to veto that."
Every action of our administration should be looked at through the lens of job creation. That is why--moments after taking the oath of office as your Governor--I called a special session of the Legislature to focus on jobs. Already, we are sending a clear message that Wisconsin is open for business! That singleness of purpose is why we hit the ground running on our very first day and why by our second day we had already introduce legislation to improve Wisconsin's economic environment. All told, we introduced 8 pieces of legislation to instill in our state an environment that encourages job creation, and to send the message to employers that now is the time to start hiring.
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Gubernatorial Debates 2017:
NJ: Fulop(D) vs.Lesniak(D) vs.Wisniewski(D) vs.Ciattarelli(R) vs.Guadagno(R) vs.Rullo(R)
VA: Gillespie(R) vs.Wittman(R) vs.Wagner(R) vs.Northam(D) vs.Perriello(D)
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Newly-elected governors (first seated in Jan. 2017):
AL-R: Robert Bentley(R)
CA-D: Jerry Brown
CO-D: John Hickenlooper
FL-R: Rick Scott
GA-R: Nathan Deal
IA-R: Terry Branstad
(appointed ambassador, 2017)
ID-R: Butch Otter
KS-R: Sam Brownback
ME-R: Paul LePage
MI-R: Rick Snyder
MN-D: Mark Dayton
NM-R: Susana Martinez
OH-R: John Kasich
OK-R: Mary Fallin
SC-R: Nikki Haley
(appointed ambassador, 2017)
SD-R: Dennis Daugaard
TN-R: Bill Haslam
WY-R: Matt Mead