A budget says a lot about what your priorities are. And Governor Walker is certainly showing his hand.
The proposed cuts are infuriating because they are completely artificial, much like when Walker declared a budget emergency for Act 10 once his tax cuts had starved the state of revenue. Wisconsin isn’t just taking its medicine. This round of cuts is precisely because Walker’s policies of trickle down fantasy have devastated our financial outlook and competitive job market, and he refuses to admit failure and change course.
Like our Congressman Ron Kind said this week, Walker could simply allow the federal government to help with Medicaid expansion in the state, giving our coffers another 350 million in revenue. Just like when Walker could have accepted millions of federal dollars in transportation funds to build rail to build up our infrastructure. But Walker is hell bent on turning Wisconsin into a conservative paradise to please his party and look serious, no matter how much the state suffers as a result.
Higher education is more than just a machine to “serve the needs of the workforce”, Mr. Walker. Universities of all kinds are about building better people that are more informed about the world and more invested in the wellbeing of our communities. This means we need more than marketing and business classes to pump out the drones corporations want. We need Women’s Study majors, Environmental majors (hey Rach), Philosophy and English majors, Art majors too. These are vital components of a healthy and diverse civic society, and to abandon them because of some misguided notion of utility is truly a shame.
Walker dropped out of college his senior year amid controversy, not because he was unintelligent (although…), but because he didn’t see the value of an education as a civic tool to make him a better and more productive person. Someone who drops out in their last semester harbors spite for the concept of a degree, and lacks appreciation for the university environment even though it wasn’t for him. This translates into his insulting proposals to dismantle our world renowned education system and divert dollars to private schools, so he can brag to Iowa primary voters about how fiscally responsible he was by defunding those ivory tower liberal intellectuals. He had the gall to say that our teachers should just work harder and teach more classes, and is putting forth the idea that anyone with job experience off the street should be able to get a teaching certification. Do you know anything about the teaching profession, sir? Or would you like to punt that question too?
The finest educational systems in the world treat their faculty like saints, and give them the proper funding to go with it. A budget shows what you prioritize, and according to Walker, we should treat the people that cultivate our youthful curiosities, ambitions, and minds like minimum wage employees who can be squeezed for profit. If there is anything that generations of ideological opposites before us have agreed on, it’s that education is precisely the thing to raise taxes to pay for, because it is truly the only force in society that allows equal opportunity to flourish.
Scott Walker is going to run for president. The only solace I have in that is he will be absolutely pulverized for his disastrous policies when he’s given the spotlight. The bad news is that his attack on our school systems and civic government will have a huge negative impact on Wisconsin’s livelihood long after he falls out of significance.
We have to stop these cronies from tearing apart one of the finest education systems in the world–our UW, if only so that we don’t produce more people with the anti-intellectual arrogance that Scott Walker poisons our state with.