Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told those gathered to watch him receive the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s George Washington Award at the Washington Hilton Friday night that he came into office to get things done and not to be just another politician.
The governor accepted the award at the “Tribute to Ronald Reagan Dinner,” part of the Defending the American Dream Summit.
“Our state faced an economic and a fiscal crisis, and I told people what I would do to fix it,” Walker said. “The novelty was that after I was sworn in, I actually went out and fulfilled those promises I made on the campaign trail.”
But accomplishing his objectives did not come without political costs as the public-sector unions rose up to resist his efforts to cut the state budget and end collective bargaining for public-sector employees – ultimately leading to his becoming the first governor in American history to defeat a recall-election drive in June.
“I was proud to run on my record because you know our record is working in the state of Wisconsin. It can work in other states and most definitely it can work in our nation’s capital,” Walker said.
The governor continued touting his administration’s elimination of bureaucratic red tape, introduction of tort reform and cutting taxes, which he said has made it easier for small businesses to grow.
“What I wanted to do was to make it easier for people in my state and people who wanted to come to my state to create jobs,” Walker said. “We took a novel approach; we lowered the tax burden.
“The good news is that it’s working. The thing that drove my opponents in the recall election crazy was they couldn’t talk about the things the recall election was about.”
Unemployment in Wisconsin has declined from a seasonally adjusted 7.7 percent when Walker took office to just under 7 percent today – lower than the national average of 8.3 percent.
Walker struck what has become a familiar theme for him in his stump speeches, comparing Wisconsin with neighboring Democratic-controlled Illinois, which maintains an unemployment rate that is higher than the national average and has resorted to tax increases and layoffs in an effort to balance its budget.
“We had a $3.6 billion with a ‘B’ budget deficit – the largest per capita in the country – one of the largest in our state’s history, and unlike other states we decided that we weren’t going to balance it with tax increases.
“Amazingly because of our reforms … we avoided massive layoffs. I have 10 percent fewer employees in my state, but that’s through attrition and managed reform, not through writing pink slips because that’s not the way to do business.”