Wisconsin is known for many things, such as our friendly disposition, impeccable beer and cheeses and, of course, our Green Bay Packers. Since I've taken office, we've gained national recognition for the proven results of our fiscal and economic reforms.
We took a principled stand, confronted our shortcomings and transformed them into real solutions. We're turning things around and heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, the national outlook isn't as bright. With growing debt and deficit without a clear solution, the problems we face as a nation are daunting.
After years of tax increases and budget tricks, Wisconsin faced one of the largest budget deficits in the country — $3.6 billion. Our state government was hemorrhaging money due to fiscally liberal policies which catered to special interest groups and government union bosses.
Wisconsin was on the same path as many of our neighbors — such as Illinois and Minnesota — which, instead of instituting real reform, continued down the road to insolvency. In Illinois, it has led to a dramatically underfunded public-employee pension program and downgraded credit rating.
Unlike our neighbors, we eliminated our deficit and balanced our budget without raising taxes and created a substantial surplus. We gave power back to local governments and school districts so they could make budgeting decisions that worked for their communities, resulting in savings of more than $1 billion.
We pursued a bold agenda with clear goals in mind — to eliminate our deficits, create a better economic outlook for Wisconsin's future and promote sound fiscal policy, all while reducing government interference in the lives of our citizens. We accomplished these goals. And because of our reforms, we've been able to return money to the hardworking taxpayers of Wisconsin.
Nationally, the outlook for the future isn't as promising. A severe lack of leadership from the president and congressional leaders has left America with a debt exceeding $16 trillion, a number that continues to rise. The Senate hasn't passed a budget in more than three years and political battles inside the Beltway have crippled any chance at meaningful reform.
The bitter partisan arguments and political pandering have put the needs of American taxpayers on the back burner. Instead of putting money back in the hands of the people to stimulate our lagging economy, Washington continues to increase taxes on families and employers who are already struggling.
Rather than promoting the powers of the states, Washington insiders seek more control over state affairs with overreaching social programs — such as ObamaCare — with little regard to the fiscal ramifications or the long-term negative consequences for state budgets. Special interests and the growing desire for control have debilitated any attempt at real reform that would help get our economy back on track.
Washington offers Americans excuses instead of fixes and defers the problems we face today to the leaders of tomorrow.
People are searching for a path forward and that's what we're doing in Wisconsin. Our state still faces challenges but we are moving in the right direction. Because we had the courage to enact meaningful reforms, we have a solid foundation to build upon. We are creating jobs and putting people back to work. In fact, our unemployment is the lowest it's been since 2008.
We're investing in education and workforce development, getting rid of the bureaucratic regulations that cripple small business and continuing to cut taxes to put more money back in the pockets of Wisconsin taxpayers. Washington must do the same in order to fix the problems that threaten our country.
President Obama and our national policymakers must concentrate less on their political futures and see the forest rather than the trees. They need to focus on the next generation and what's best for America, rather than the next election.
It's easy to blame opponents or kick the can down the road. But that never will solve the problems America is suffering. With courage and conviction, real reform is possible. Wisconsin is proof. We were not afraid to take on our biggest challenges and because of that tenacity, we've been able to put our middle-class families first and capitalize on the proven results of our reforms.
We turned things around and are moving our state forward with commonsense and fiscally responsible policies.
President Obama and lawmakers on Capitol Hill need to do the same. Americans need less talk and more action from the policymakers who are focused more on the superficiality of the Beltway rather than the needs of the people they represent.
In order to pull ourselves out of the national debt crisis we're in, our president needs to exhibit real leadership and enact the kind of reforms we put in place in Wisconsin. It's time the president follows Wisconsin's example and moves our country forward.
Scott Walker, a Republican, is governor of Wisconsin.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Just wait until Ben comes back
- Bell’s last-second TD lifts Steelers over Chargers
- Steelers defense displays resiliency in victory over Chargers
- Steelers notebook: Receiver Bryant inactive for game vs. Chargers
- Home invader shot, killed in Mt. Washington
- Upper St. Clair man escapes injury when car gets stuck on Fla. railroad tracks
- Pitt running out of options to slow down Georgia Tech offense
- Ellwood City Area School District avoids strike set for Tuesday
- Dutch Safety Board: Buk missile downed MH17 in Ukraine
- Penguins notebook: Left wing rotation puts Perron with Malkin
- Pa. Supreme Court ‘disturbed by content’ of emails attributed to justice