One Wisconsin Now Blog

Sunday Breakfast with OWN: The Progressive Check on Scott Walker's Imbalance

Unchecked GOP power in state government over the last 18 months has stripped workers of rights, endangered free and fair elections and taken our public resources and given it to the wealthy and corporations.

A progressive Senate majority that can block more GOP abuses of power is, in the paraphrased words of our Vice President, a big deal.

A progressive check on Gov. Walker and the GOP’s power will make an immediate difference. Besides giving progressives a bully pulpit to talk about issues, they can stop reckless tax giveaways to corporations and protect public safety.

When Gov. Walker rolled out his plan for a privatized Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), serious questions were raised about a lack of transparency, the possibility for corruption and the effectiveness of reinventing the wheel in creating jobs.

As it turns out, the concerns were well founded. Walker’s WEDC has failed to deliver on jobs, coming up short when compared to the performance of the old Department of Commerce, we’ve seen cronyism in hiring, and now, possible bid rigging in the burgeoning Skyward tax credit scandal.

Because control of the State Senate flipped, WEDC now needs approval from the Joint Committee on Finance, split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, before doling out $25 million in tax credits to businesses. And that means tough questions will be asked, the plan can be changed to keep Walker’s WEDC from running amok and checks can be added to make sure the corporations that get tax credits are held accountable. This was the intent of the law, and it is critical the checks exist.

Protecting common sense gun laws, like requiring minimal training before getting a permit to carry a hidden weapon in public is another instance where progressive control of the Senate can make a real, positive difference.

When state law was changed to allow hidden weapons to be carried in public, the state Department of Justice needed to set rules specifying the requirements to get a “concealed carry” permit. They included a provision that said you needed four hours of training before being allowed to conceal a deadly weapon on your person when you were in public.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) went ballistic, and the Governor and GOP legislature cowered, calling for weakening of the rules.

Now, the Department of Justice is proposing rules requiring people get instruction in the use of deadly force and how to avoid violent situations, training on firearm safety rules and how to safely use, handle, transport and store firearms and ammunition before getting a concealed carry permit.

With progressives in control of the Senate, they can prevent the NRA and kowtowing GOP politicians from further weakening these modest, common sense requirements.

The media’s conventional wisdom is that, because Republican say they’ll take back control of the State Senate in the fall elections, nothing meaningful can be done by the progressives who won control of the State Senate in the June recall elections.

They’re wrong.