State Democrats want Scott Walker to “put his money where his mouth is.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker last week announced part of his plan to get state spending under control is to require all state employees to pay their own portion of their pension benefits. And, if elected governor, he would do the same. But, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate says that’s just a “P-R stunt.”
Tate says while Walker served in the state Assembly, Wisconsin taxpayers shelled out nearly $18,000 toward his pension. “We are asking for Scott Walker to pay back to Wisconsin taxpayers the $18,000 we have contributed to his pension from his time in the legislature. He should prove that this is real reform with real action, not just a cheap PR stunt designed to get headlines.”
Tate says Walker never proposed such a plan when he was in the Assembly. However, Walker Campaign Manager Keith Gilkes says the financial circumstances are different now than all those years ago. “How do you go back and change something that wasn’t an issue, it wasn’t a problem, in different circumstances someplace 20 years ago.” He says, “The state budget is $2.4 billion in deficit right now. Currently state government is not affordable.”
Gilkes says in recent years state government had the mentality of borrow, raid, spend and whatever it takes to keep government going. That needs to change. “We’re not here to debate what happened 20 years ago. We’re here to debate what we’re going to do now to help the taxpayers afford their government for the future.”
Gilkes says as Milwaukee County Executive, Walker has already returned to the taxpayers over $370,000 of his own salary, and voluntarily reduced his pension benefit. Walker believes that if all state workers pay their own contribution it would save the state about $180 million a year.
NOTE: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett also benefited from taxpayer contributions to his pension fund while serving almost a decade in the state legislature, but Tate says Barrett is not the one proposing this “cheap political stunt.” He says Barrett’s got “real reform versus Walker’s smoke and mirrors stunt.”