WI Gov. Scott Walker interviewed today, 1:06 PM CDT, by "long-time friend", Limbaugh fill-in Guest Host Mark Belling (Wisconsin based radio host):
Loose transcript based on my notes:
B:Governor, welcome. You took much abuse throughout the state and outside Wisconsin for your reform program. Do you now feel vindicated?
W: Mark, as a state we are doing well. We've gone from a $3.6 B deficit to a $300 M surplus. Wauwatosa public schools, where my two sons go, have improved their outlook. Basically, all WI schools are doing better by saving money due to reforms. They're now hiring more teachers, lowering classroom size, since they don't have to have this collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is not a right but an expensive entitlement. Now, teachers are hired or fired on merit, not on tenure or seniority.
B: I've heard school boards are boasting that they'll now be able to freeze or cut property tax levies due to your nearly "magical" plan.
W: Yes, the WEA trust- union run health plan- is now saving HUGE amounts due to there being no collective bargaining. We have, literally, example after example. This saved money is able to go back to the classroom.
B: Governor, the national unions vowed to break you. But, they couldn't change the legislature, which is a victory for you. The city of Milwaukee is now 10-20 million dollars to the better due to government reforms. They'll become more popular as time goes on.
W: I disliked the recalls, as I said, and wanted to get them over and done with. But I think, actually, that later (September '11 or Jan 12) recalls would have been good for us because the situation in the schools is getting better. Parents and teachers are now constantly praising me. Good hardworking decent teachers are excited. Property taxes in WI will go down. Despite all the attack adds against me- union money- the reforms are great and helping WI attract more jobs.
B: The lesson for Republicans nationally is, that if we stick to our conservative principles, they'll work and Rs and the nation will be better off. Do you have anything to say to other Rs about your experience?
W: Republicans have to stay on point and be positive! Don't be frustrated, make your point over and over and over, how you'll make it work. Stay on point! Don't lash out! Our candidates got outspent 3-1 in the recalls but we stayed on point Mitch Daniels did the same thing in IN and the voters re-elected him. Results matter!
B: You were accused of destroying education, governor, and that people would be laid off, but in NY Bloomberg is the one laying teachers (770) off! The state of IL to our south, BORROWED money and increased taxes and are still laying off! We see layoffs coming in places that refused to cut! WI cut and is thriving!
W: I got a chuckle against people who said we were attacking the middle class. The middle class pay most of our tax burden in WI!. Our structural changes have helped our budget and protected these middle class jobs and their tax rates by asking the unions to pay just a tiny bit more. That helps our state.
B: Governor, I'm convinced that the attacks on you were so strong because the unions KNEW that your plan would work and therefore people would see that gov. unionization for the problem that it is. And, sure enough, it's happening and I think your techniques will spread.
W: We had some advantages. In OH, Gov. Kasich didn't have our advantages- his law is not being enacted right now. But in our case, over time, it has become clear and will become clearer that our reforms have been very helpful and they'll become more popular. Despite the attacks. we've been on point with our issues and the results are working.
B: America is looking for conservatives like you to stick to your guns and get rid of the government waste to help fix our problems!
W: Mark, the great thing about America is that in times of crisis is that, for over 200 years, our leaders have thought about their kids and fellow citizens rather than their own jobs.
B: Thank you, Governor.