CAP TIMES: Republican legislators should stand with Wisconsin, not Walker

June 14, 2011
Cap Times Editorial Board

Until now, Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to remake Wisconsin as a brutish state where schools are underfunded, local services are starved, local democracy is rendered dysfunctional and working people can’t get a break was just that — an “attempt.”

Now, as the state Assembly and Senate move toward definitive votes on a budget plan that would implement Walker’s agenda, theory gives way to reality.

 

All the fighting up to this point has been prologue.

Legislators who have backed Walker have done damage to the state. But it has not been long-term or deep damage.

Now the threat is real. If Walker gets his way, Wisconsin will be radically changed — and that change will be for the worse.

There is no question that Wisconsinites will reject the Walker agenda and its supporters when they get a chance to do so. That rejection will come at the polls, in recall elections this summer and in regular elections next year.

But in the meantime, schools will be forced to make severe cuts. Seniors and working families will be denied access to needed health care. Vital programs will wither and be shuttered. And hundreds of millions of dollars will be steered away from the public programs and into the accounts of the governor’s campaign contributors and political cronies.

Wisconsin will be harmed. And some of that harm will take years, perhaps decades, to reverse.

Legislators should consider these self-evident truths as they prepare to vote on the Walker budget.

This is a “which side are you on?” moment. It is not too late for responsible Republicans — and there are many responsible Republicans in the Assembly and Senate — to reject the crude pay-to-play politics that Walker has imported from outside Wisconsin.

State Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, broke with Walker at a critical stage in the fight over the governor’s attempt to strip state, county and municipal employees and teachers of their collective bargaining rights. So too did four members of the state Assembly.

Schultz and the other dissenters showed that the Republican Party is more than a rubber stamp.

Now it is time for more Republicans to stand for Wisconsin — rather than Walker.