DE PERE — While Washington faces the so-called ‘fiscal cliff,’ Governor Scott Walker has dealt with his own budget issues during his first term.
He came into office in 2010 facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit. Two years later, Walker says the state will have a $283 million surplus. But, Walker says he didn't discuss what he did in Wisconsin in the bipartisan governor's meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning.
“We felt it was imperative for us to focus in on things that unite us, Republican and Democrat alike, so that's really what we focused on,” said Walker.
St. Norbert College economics professor Sandy Odorzynski says like them or not, Walker's collective bargaining reforms were bold. She says neither side in Washington is offering anything as drastic to avoid the fiscal cliff.
“I think part of the impasse at the federal government is we're looking to damage nobody in our reforms,” said Odorzynski. “We want to somehow magically wave away the deficit and the debt without anybody being hampered.”
“There was a unity by all these governors and by our efforts as has been pointed out, to not get specific on one area, but offer our willingness to go forward and aide on thoughts and ideas and suggestions,” said Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat.
While the governors rely mostly on state revenues for their budgets, lawmakers in Washington have other means to spend. Odorzynski says that's where the governors could help.
“I think they can be reminders that government can operate under a budget and that providing some balance between spending and expenditures might be a wise move,” said Odorzynski.
Walker and the other governors maintain they won't collectively endorse one side's plan. They say they'll try to remain a part of the process until a solution is reached.
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