by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Gov. Scott Walker leaves office next week, finishing his second term by posting a budget surplus for the eighth year in a row. Wisconsin ended last fiscal year with a $588.5 million surplus and will start 2018-2019 with the second-highest opening balance since 2000.
“We are leaving Wisconsin in the best financial condition in a generation,” Walker announced. “This is part of our legacy and it will continue to drive Wisconsin forward.”
Walker, who had not previously discussed publicly what he planned to do after leaving office, said Tuesday he would join a speaking tour across the country and “focus on new methods to articulate a conservative message.”
Walker’s legacy includes cutting Wisconsin residents’ taxes by $8 billion and reducing the collective bargaining rights of government workers.
Walker also signed his last key pieces of legislation last month, one of which included provisions to help corporations receiving awards from the state’s economic development corporation.
The governor created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in 2011 as a public-private agency. Revisions to how grants are awarded to companies applying for tax credits or other financial incentives were included in a wide-ranging package of legislation that addressed voting guidelines and the powers of the executive branch.
The legislation signed into law limited early in-person voting to the two weeks prior to Election Day, eliminated the state Justice Department’s solicitor general office, and stipulated guidelines about the executive branch’s ability to engage in or withdraw from lawsuits involving the state without input from the Legislature.