Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shows leadership in dealing with state’s hardest problems

by Mallory Darst - University student

In the Minnesota DailyâÄôs Feb. 28 article âÄúU students react to Wisconsin Protests,âÄù I was misrepresented by the reporter. I never stated in my interview that I was in favor of cutting educatorsâÄô benefits or access to benefits. My statement was that I favored the proposed plan that would shift some of the costs of these benefits onto the state employees in an effort to help solve the stateâÄôs current and looming budget shortfalls.
The articleâÄôs concluding quote was stated correctly: I do believe Gov. Scott Walker is making the difficult discussions we need to make in this country, and I hope that everyone can appreciate his leadership on these types of issues.
As numerous states have to deal with large budget deficits and as our country goes deeper in debt, it is critical to our nation to begin serious conversations about how we are going to address programs like Social Security, Medicaid and the Wisconsin government worker pension and benefit funds that are struggling to sustain themselves.
We have seen countries like Greece and Ireland crumble financially after waiting too long to address similar programs which cost more to operate than the funding provided.
It is easy for government officials at both the state and federal levels to cut little things from budgets here and there, placing a Band-Aid on the wound that will temporarily stop the bleeding. But what we need is a long-term cure.
When it comes down to it, large government-run benefit programs like those in Wisconsin will continue to block this country from ultimately solving our deficit problems because of their size in the federal and state budget. Walker realizes this and is trying to address it head on, unlike many of his fellow lawmakers in Washington âÄî Democrat and Republican âÄî who are too focused on re-election and not what they were elected to do: Solve this countryâÄôs hard problems.
Walker, unlike Gov. Mark Dayton, realizes we need to fix the issues in Wisconsin instead of continuing down a never-ending road of raising taxes. Raising taxes to fund the benefit and pension plans of WisconsinâÄôs government-employed workers would mean continuing to fund a program that is operating in the red while using other public sector workersâÄô wages to make it appear to break even.
IâÄôm not advocating for these programs to go away, but I believe there is a necessity for restructuring. TeachersâÄô benefits are not being cut at all, just being funded by the employees themselves at levels equal to those in the private sector.
While Walker is showing the legislative ability and courage to bring these hard discussions into government buildings to force real discussion, I find it disappointing that many of his Democrat peers continue to be afraid to step up as leaders alongside Walker and continue the discussion.
Just as Wisconsin constituents have the ability to exercise their right to speak freely at the Capitol in Madison as they have done over the past week, it is important to remember that many people in the state of Wisconsin exercised their own right to free speech at the polls back in November. As we see Democrats in the state of Wisconsin retreat to Illinois, it is important to remember that it was the people of the state of Wisconsin who decided in November to switch things up to a Republican governor, Legislature and assembly.
I hope the Democrat representatives in Wisconsin will be able to step up and lead alongside Walker in this debate. They have an unusual opportunity to set a legislative example for the entire country and prove we can address the hard issues while standing together.