Tax cuts, school vouchers on Walker’s agenda

Governor gives speech about coming year in Calif.
Tax cuts, school vouchers on Walker’s agenda

Gov. Scott Walker continues to shed more light on what his legislative agenda will look like next year.

Walker used a speech Friday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation in California to talk about his plans to pursue tax cuts and other issues.

“We’re working on massive tax reform,” Walker said. “We think if we want to continue the economic success we’ve had over the last year and a half, one of the best ways is to put more money back in the hands of entrepreneurs, more money in the hands of small business owners, more money in the hands of our consumers.”

Walker had already begun talking about an income tax cut, but he told the California crowd he also planned further cuts to property taxes. Walker said he also planned to expand the voucher school program and tie higher education funding to meeting certain benchmarks.

“We’re going to tie our additional funding into performance at K-12, tie our funding in our technical colleges and UW System into performance and say, ‘If you want money, we need you to perform,'” Walker said.

Walker said his proposed higher education changes would be similar to a model put in place by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.

“Particularly in higher education, we need you to perform not just by how many people you have in the classroom. To borrow a line from Jeb, we’re not just paying for butts in seats; we should be paying for outcomes. And in higher education, that means not only degrees but our young people getting degrees that are open and needed today, not just the jobs the universities want to give us.”

The ideas are generating discussion in Wisconsin.

Incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Walker’s message is consistent with what Republicans have been saying for months they want to do.

“I just don’t think the answer is ever throwing more money at a problem and hoping it’s going to work itself out,” Vos said. “We have to have some kind of measures to show the public that the dollars they’re investing are going to have a return for their money.”

Republican leaders said the issues of performance funding and expanding school choice programs are on their agenda for the year as well. Republican lawmakers said they expect these items to be in the state budget coming out in February.

Tax cuts, school vouchers on Walker’s agenda

Democrats said they were dismayed that Walker released these details in an out-of-state speech before they had been shared with constituents in Wisconsin.

“More importantly than that is the degree to which we’re going to have reasonable funding for schools aside from this new initiative that they’re bringing forward. I hope that’s not the only way that they’re going to provide schools desperately needed funding,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson said the speech shows Walker has no plans to moderate his message.