If there was ever any doubt that Republican Scott Walker would work to rescind the state’s domestic partner registry if elected governor, he erased it during a June 11 appearance before the Milwaukee Press Club. Walker also said that as governor he’d oppose the employee benefits that domestic partners of state workers became eligible for early this year.
Walker’s position is not surprising. As Milwaukee County executive, he vetoed a measure approved by county supervisors to extend partner benefits to county workers. To justify this act of inequality, he inflated the estimated cost of the measure to nearly 20 times what the City of Milwaukee spends on partner benefits, even though the county has a workforce that is 40 percent smaller than the county’s.
Walker has avoided the kind of anti-gay rhetoric employed by Mark Neumann, his Republican gubernatorial opponent. Neumann has said he’d never hire an out gay or lesbian person to serve on his staff, despite the fact that Wisconsin has the nation’s oldest law banning anti-gay employment discrimination.
Walker isn’t stupid enough to make a gaffe like that, but his policies as governor would be no different from Neumann’s. As he told reporters attending the press club luncheon, there are no ideological differences between the two candidates.
Walker says his administration would create jobs for Wisconsin by re-enacting the policies of former Gov. Tommy Thompson. But while Wisconsin benefited from the national economic expansion of the 1990s, median wages under Thompson grew an average of only 0.4 percent a year from 1989 to 1997. In order to compensate for Thompson’s tax cuts to the wealthy, local sales taxes soared to the point that the bottom 20 percent of workers were effectively paying twice the tax rate of the top 1 percent.
Walker’s vision for Wisconsin would turn the state backward not forward in every way. He’s proposed no new ideas for improving the state’s economy, education system or budgetary mess. He’s simply recycling the stale right-wing platitudes of the Bush years – lower taxes, less regulation, “family values.”
And where did those get us?