Today, Scott Walker was sworn in as the 45th governor of the State of Wisconsin. Having signed and campaigned on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, he was given a clear mandate in November to take tax increases off the table in dealing with the state's $3.3 billion overspending problem. To that end, Gov. Walker won his first political showdown last month when outgoing legislative Democrats were unsuccessful in ratifying a number of public employee contracts that would have hamstrung his ability to cope with the budget hole.
Walker is one to keep your eye on. He is young, accomplished and principled, having eschewed tax increases as Milwaukee County Executive, turning deficits into surpluses through fiscal restraint. In addition to winning the governor's mansion, Republicans flipped both chambers of the state legislature in Wisconsin in 2010, potentially giving the governor a clear path to serious, lasting reforms.
It is only a matter of time until we are comparing the accomplishments of a number of incoming Pledge signer governors in the Midwest and elsewhere, including John Kasich, Tom Corbett, Paul LePage, Rick Scott, and Walker.
An instruction excerpt from Gov. Walker's inauguration speech follows:
Let me be clear on one thing: Increasing taxes is off the table—as it will counter our efforts to provide economic growth. Instead, we will make tough, but compassionate decisions to balance the next state budget in a way that will get Wisconsin working again. Under our administration, state government will do only what is necessary – no more, no less.
We will fight any action that keeps our employers from creating more jobs. But we will not abandon our fundamental responsibilities to protect our families and our property, provide for a high-quality education for our children, ensure care for the most vulnerable among us, and enhance the quality of life for our citizens.
A high quality of life; however, is not the result of a bigger, ever-expanding government.
As President Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address: "There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts."