After a two-week long protest to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget repair bill — a protest including banging drums, screaming chants and record-breaking numbers on the streets outside the Capitol — the governor finally presented his full 2011-13 state budget plans to the public during a joint session of Legislature on Tuesday evening.
During his speech, Walker highlighted that democracy “does not just expect differences, but demands them” before transitioning into the cuts enacted by the budget, including $500 million from Medicaid, $900 million from K-12 education, and the separation of UW-Madison from the UW System in conjunction with a $125 million cut in aid to the 25 remaining campuses.
Walker vowed his new state budget will pull Wisconsin out of its debt and, over the next four years, help create 250,000 jobs.
Senior Paydon Miller, chairman of the College Democrats of Wisconsin, disagreed, believing the budget cuts will instead move the state’s economy backwards.
“Economically, (the budget cuts) are the exact wrong move to make,” he said. “It’s economics 101: When you have an undereducated workforce, you can’t have a strong economy.”
In regards to Madison’s separation to gain autonomy, Miller — also an off-campus student senator — disagreed as well (Student Senate passed a resolution Monday opposing Madison’s split; see page 3A for details).
“There are a finite amount of UW resources,” he said. “(The split) creates inefficiency and increased tuition on both ends; really, it’s just creating two lower-quality products.”
Walker also addressed on Tuesday the need for the 14 Senate democrats in Illinois to return to Madison, saying their continued absence would result in their local communities to manage the aid reductions without the benefit of the tools provided in the repair bill.
Senior Allison Kimble believes the democrats’ absence is appropriate; holding out until Walker agrees to negotiate is “heroic,” she said.
“It’s a bold move, standing up for protests who the governor continues to ignore,” she said. “People slept through the 2010 elections. It takes so much for people to notice … but now, with the protesting going on for two weeks, in combination with Walker still not listening, it makes their actions that much more substantial … someone has to stand up for the majority, even if that makes them a minority.”
Junior Katherine Stuckart, College Republicans secretary, feels the opposite about the Democrat’s flee.
“The senators (leaving) the state is absolutely unacceptable. They were elected to do a job, and that job is to represent the citizens that voted for them,” she said. “However, they fled to Illinois … If they want to show their concern and oppose the bill, they should be at the Capitol voting ‘no’ … it’s time for them to come back and do their job.”
Stuckart believes the budget will help business flourish in the state and make Wisconsin more attractive to outside companies.
“The bill will help balance the state budget … if business is booming in Wisconsin, businesses that are already here will expand and other businesses will be coming here,” she said. “As a student in the College of Business, this is very important for my future.”
As opinions over the budget continue to vary, Kimble said she’s certain of one thing.
“I’m not from Wisconsin, and to be honest … I wouldn’t want to stay here,” she said. “There’s no incentive; in the long term, the state will go downhill. And that, I think, is