Credit Where Credit Is Due
One of the toughest aspects of political commentary in this era is the inability to give credit to your political opposition, lest that (A) it get used by the opposition to further their agenda but, more importantly, (B) it get used by your political supporters as a sign of weakness. Well, I don't work for any party or think tank, so I can feel free to give credit to someone who I almost always diametrically oppose: Governor Scott Walker.
Over the weekend, Governor Walker issued his line-item vetoes of the 2013-15 state budget. Thankfully, two of these issues address concerns of not only those of us aligned to the left, but those of us interested in accountability. The critical veto was of the Republican legislative insertion of an amendment to kick the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism off the UW-Madison campus. The amendment sure seemed like an effort by conservatives to impede an organization that found critical info of fellow conservatives -- a big government (ironically) form of revenge. Walker is, instead having the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents look at the issue of whether any such organization -- not just the WCIJ -- should be able to house their headquarters on-campus. Sure, the end result may well be the removal of the Center, but it will be through an examination by the proper authorities and will be for overarching reasons of academics, not ideology.
Also important: Governor Walker maintaining the cap of Milwaukee and Racine (aka Speaker Vos's hometown area) private school enrollment with school vouchers. The voucher program is still a bad idea: using public money for private school and, therefore reducing support public schools could receive from the state in favor of private schools that may teach curriculum not supported by the public (separation of church & state, anyone?). At least some caps were put in place to prevent private schools from sucking up as many students as possible, but the Milwaukee & Racine exemptions increased the chance that struggling public schools could gradually lose more and more students -- and maybe, eventually, state aid. The concern of private schools in those cities opening satellite schools across the state was theoretical but possible. Walker's veto makes sure that won't happen. He did negotiate a deal with moderate Republicans to get the voucher plan passed, as as he said, this veto allows that deal to not be undermined.
Again, there's a lot of bad in the budget. Wisconsin will be much better off with a Democrat in the mansion, though it's anyone's guess which year the state party will be strong enough to again contend. However, credit must be given when it is due, and Governor Walker made a bad budget not-as-bad. We'll take what crumbs we can get.