As a Wisconsin State legislator from the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, Scott Walker was an uninspiring back-bencher. As Milwaukee County Executive, he did set-piece battle with a more liberal Board of Supervisors, regularly introduced no-tax-increase budgets he knew would be boosted by the Board for a bigger, no-increase (sic) base the following year, but didn't really indicate any big plans for governing like the tectonic shifts he's proposing and implementing as Governor.
Somewhere in think-tank land, there's a blueprint for structural change from which he's working, and democracy in the state is yielding to authoritarian, corporatist hegemony. The goal: GOP, one-party, ideologically hard-edged rule, where business - - their taxes cut in Walker's first few weeks - - gets to run the show.
Walker showed his hand early, aggregating to his office the power to approve state agency rules that normally required a public hearing by a joint committee of the legislature. Businesses complained for years that the process was slow, particularly when it came to rules proposed by the Department of Natural Resources.
Not content withappointing business and trade association representatives to the top management positions at the DNR, and to its governing board, Walker rs now proposing to, by Executive order, re-fashion the DNR into something new - - a so-called Charter agency,not unlike a Charter school freed from some school administration procedures - - with faster (read: less public input, minimal scientific and common-purpose analysis) business permitting procedures, less use of outside scientists' advice, and more in-house hiring without standard state employee selection procedures.
No one knows if this is a legal plan, but Walker has a working majority on the State Supreme Court, and as a leading Milwaukee talk show host said the day after the GOP sweep, "they can do anything they want."
This comes at a time when Walker and his legislative allies are pushing for a change in the way mining permits are reviewed.
An iron mine is on the table for Northwest Wisconsin near Lake Superior: the Walker plan would set an arbitrary, breathtakingly short limit for the permit review of 300 days, regardless of the complexity of the issues involved, and a hearing is set for the proposal though a bill has yet to be introduced.
Additionally, Walker and the legislature remade the Department of Commerce into a hybrid, giving the private sector more control over the agency and a fresh $200 million in funding from a state Walker keeps saying is broke.
The Walker people are tilting the political fields towards their constituencies and are playing for keeps: with control of both houses, there are plans moving ahead quickly to embed in state law a right-wing agenda before July 12th - - the date on which recall elections have been scheduled which could tip the State Senate back to the Democrats and stall the advance of Walker's agenda.
Moving to quick legislative approval, for example: Concealed carry of firearms, perhaps without a training requirement; election law changes that end election-day registration at the polls, mandate certain types of photo IDs and moves the traditional September primary to August, when students are on vacation - - all designed to tamp down turnout in cities with large numbers of student, minority and Democratic voters.
Up for discussion: splitting the state university system's flagship campus in Madison off into a separate school with a separate board controlled by Walker.
Rumored: A quickie redistricting to foil some of the recall proponents from voting out Republican Senators.
And a two-ear state budget that shifts program costs to cash strapped-local governments, favors school choice over public education, among other fundamental, structural changesin multiple state and local operations and programs.
He even in this budget would levy higher state income taxes on some working poor families while creating a new tax break for business funded at almost the same amount.
It feels verythink-tank driven.
With Walker, anything is possible - - a lesson learned the hard way when he withheld the extent of his anti-union planning until after the election which he won with only 52%, but which Dennis Kucinich forced from Walker under oath.Updated by jer45 at Sun May 15, 2011 at 09:18 AM CDT
I have obtained the text of the draft memo laying out the plan for Walker to re-create the Department of Natural Resources by Executive order, giving it ""flexibility" to better partner with business: http://thepoliticalenvironment.blogspot.com/...