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Wisconisn Governor Scott Walker gestures as he addresses the second session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012 REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Got my trip to Cali'
I live in Wisconsin. I read a Wisconsin newspaper. Like a lot of folks in Wisconsin when I want to know what Wisconsin government is up to I read several Wisconsin newspapers, blogs and opinion sites. Evidently Scott Walker knows this too. He knows that his policies for the upcoming legislative session, where the GOP holds a majority in both houses, are likely to be as unpopular as the last one. You remember that one; it spurred protests on the Capitol Square numbering in the hundreds of thousands, an occupation of the Capitol, and several recall elections. So, he gave a Wisconsin policy speech in California, far away from Wisconsin reporters so that they could not ask any pesky questions.

So what did the Governor of Wisconsin propose while he was in California?

  1. Massive tax reform
  2. Education reform

Honestly, there is nothing wrong with my taxes. Yes, my property taxes are a little on the high side; however, that is because the state, specifically the state GOP, feels the need to punish the City of Madison for it liberalism by cutting shared revenue to the city. That is not going to stop Gov. Walker, though. His plans?

The Governor plans to push for lower property taxes, which is the primary revenue source for schools and local governments. And he said he will propose "aggressive income tax reduction and reform."
My property taxes pay for roads, trash and recyclables pickup, K-12 schools, technical colleges, police, fire and fire protection, ambulance service, snow plowing, social services, and a city and county park system that is second to none. The only way Gov. Walker can cut my property taxes is if he raises the shared revenue to Madison from state income taxes. Seeing as he plans on cutting those as well I am somewhat baffled by his plan of what appears at this time to be all smoke and mirrors. I guess that explains why he told people in California his plans instead of Wisconsin.

His plans on education are what are really disturbing.

The Republican governor said his proposals for education reform will tie funding to outcomes, including how well the education system meets the need for trained workers. Walker said he has heard "tremendous concerns" from employers in health care, manufacturing and information technology "that they have jobs but they just don’t have enough skilled workers to meet those jobs.
There has been a nursing shortage in Wisconsin; however, that is tied to a lack of capacity to train new nurses rather than a lack of qualified candidates for nursing school. As for manufacturing and information technology not having enough trained workers, well, that is an outright lie. Maybe if manufacturers and IT employers would raise the wages they are offering they wouldn’t be seeing this supposed shortage of trained and qualified workers.

One of the ways that Gov. Walker, a college dropout, wants to fix this is by applying the same flawed performance standards that K-12 schools currently have to use to the University of Wisconsin System and to the state technical colleges. Or as Gov. Walker put it,

"We’re going to tie our funding in our technical colleges and our University of Wisconsin System into performance and say if you want money, we need you to perform, and particularly in higher education, we need you to perform not just in how many people you have in the classroom.

"In higher education, that means not only degrees, but are young people getting degrees in jobs that are open and needed today, not just the jobs that the universities want to give us, or degrees that people want to give us?"

Now, a technical college is supposed to teach you a trade. I get that, which is why they were at one time called trade schools; however, a university is not a trade school. You do not go to the University of Wisconsin to learn how to weld. The goal of a university degree is to make you a well-rounded person. Yes, you can learn computer science; however, you must also learn about literature, foreign languages, and other cultures. It isn’t about just training you for a specific job—it is about making you a whole person, about showing you things that you may have never discovered on your own.

I think Senate Minority Leader-elect Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said it best with this:

Walker plans to "hyper scrutinize" public schools while giving more money to "unaccountable" private schools that studies show perform no better or worse than public schools.

The Democratic lawmaker also said Walker’s proposal for higher education funding sounds like "social engineering" that would force students to study "what industry wants" rather than what students want.

Yeah, that is just what we need, industry dictating what our children should take in school. Instead or producing the next generation of writers, musicians, and artists; our schools should only produce people who can weld, write computer code, and do manual labor (not that there is anything wrong with manual labor). This is the wrong path for Scott Walker to go down; however, as history has shown, he doesn’t care, which is why he gave a Wisconsin policy speech in California.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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