Last Wednesday, Scott Walker stood in front of the state Legislature to tout his accomplishments. I should have been paying attention, but my mind wandered back to last’s year’s message and what I said to the press immediately after it was over. I was immediately frustrated when it read, “Today, Governor Scott Walker spent more time talking about the Green Bay Packers than he did about our juvenile justice scandal, our lead water crisis or Wisconsin’s racial disparities. Wisconsin doesn’t need a cheerleader, we need a trailblazer to solve our state’s problems.”
It was a year ago that I was again calling out Walker’s lack of concern for what was happening at Lincoln Hills and in Juvenile corrections. I was upset that Walker almost took pride in bragging about how he had never stepped foot in a correctional facility in the state. I sent him two letters requesting that he hold a special session to deal with the issues plaguing the facilities housing juveniles that went back over six years. Nothing. Not even a courtesy response. Our youth have been abused and mistreated. Guards have been injured. Now that it is time for a re-election bid, Walker announced a few days ago that he finally wants to look at closing Lincoln Hills.
As I read my statement of a year ago about the lead water crisis facing nearly 70,000 Milwaukee homeowners, and over 170,000 households statewide, I have to admit I was having a hard time. It was not lost on me that on the very day that Walker was giving his 2018 State of the State address, Milwaukee Common Council members, the Mayor and the community was participating in a full-blown meeting about the continuing lack of resolution to Milwaukee’s lead water crisis. Absolutely no meaningful help has come from Walker’s administration as Milwaukee navigates this public health crisis. But listening to Walker, the state is in good shape!
In fact, we are not in good shape. Walker has not made things better, he’s made them worse. After listening to his eighth State of the State address, it remains clear that there is a continued lack of commitment to some of the most pressing issues facing Wisconsin residents. For the past six years, Wisconsin’s private sector job creation has lagged behind the national average. Wisconsin continues to rank worst in the nation for business start-up activity, racial equity, and contains the region’s least educated workforce. Juveniles and corrections staff remain at risk six years after Scott Walker’s administration was alerted to the alleged abuse at Lincoln Hills.
Across the board, Walker has failed on policies that often impact vulnerable populations. Under his leadership, children have received historic cuts to K-12 education, restoring some of the funding just in time to run his next campaign ad. Walker has given Foxconn what amounts to over $4 billion in corporate welfare but has called a special session on ‘welfare reform.” The state is looking just like he left Milwaukee County – worse.