Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
Last Thursday, I had the pleasure to hear gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke speak in West Bend. Mary was impressive in her talk to a packed house at the County Democratic Headquarters. Since she is the only major announced Democratic candidate, it appears that November's general election will be between Mary Burke and Scott Walker.
A governor's job is similar to that of a company CEO. They are, in many ways, responsible for the economic success of their state. They should promote policies that allow growth and create good jobs. They should encourage the expansion of existing companies and nurture start-up businesses. How do the abilities of the two candidates compare in this important aspect of the job? Who has the better training, experience, record, and motivation to grow Wisconsin's economy?
Education In college, Scott Walker majored in Political Science. He left Marquette under murky circumstances and did not finish his degree.
Mary Burke attended Georgetown, where she earned a BS in Business Administration with a focus on Finance. She then earned an MBA from Harvard.
Job Experience Scott Walker does not have experience working in the private sector. Aside from a brief stint at the non-profit Red Cross, he has been on the government payroll his entire adult life.
Mary Burke has worked in the private sector most of her adult life. After schooling, she worked several years as a consultant. She then served as Director of Trek Bicycles' European Operations and later headed their office of Strategic Planning. She was a critical part of Trek's phenomenal growth.
The Commerce Department. Soon after becoming Governor, Scott Walker dissolved the state Commerce Department, replacing it with the scandal-ridden Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Walker's WEDC lost track of millions of dollars of taxpayer money and has been subject to allegations of bid-rigging.
Mary Burke headed-up the State Commerce Department from January 2005 – November 2007. During that time, she racked-up an impressive list of accomplishments, including: streamlining Wisconsin's economic development efforts, attracting thousands of jobs to the state, assisting entrepreneurs, and helping grow state exports. Mary knows how to grow a strong Wisconsin economy.
Accepting Federal Money. Scott Walker has turned-away federal dollars that could jump-start the state's economy and generate thousands of jobs. Instead, our money was sent to other states. This rejection of billions of dollars was made for purely political reasons.
Mary Burke will accept federal money to expand Medicaid in our state. This will save the state taxpayers hundreds of millions and cover more of our poorest citizens. She has no ideological problem accepting federal dollars that would otherwise go to other states.
Jobs Plan. During the 2010 election, Tom Barrett issued a serious 67 page plan for growing jobs in our state. Not to be outdone, Walker's campaign issued a 68 page plan. However, Walker's plan consisted of only 1,018 words, about 3 normal pages. In order to make their plan longer than Barrett's, the Walker plan was cynically written in a humongous 58 point font.
According to a Capital Times interview, Burke will start rolling out her jobs plan in about a month. Burke has much experience in developing strategic business plans. Her jobs plan will not be a joke.
Performance. The central promise of Walker's 2010 campaign was that he would create 250,000 new jobs in the state. We have heard excuse after excuse for not coming anywhere close to this goal. Compared to neighboring states and the rest of the US, our economic growth has been anemic.
Mary Burke has a record of economic success, helping to grow a successful company. She was a very effective Commerce Secretary, with a long list of accomplishments.
Dedication to the job. Scott Walker spent the last three years focused on the White House. His cross-country book tours, political fund raising, and nonstop campaigning have made him neglect his day job. Heading into the 2016 presidential elections, Mr. Walker will not pledge to serve-out a full four-year term if re-elected as governor.
Mary Burke will not be a part-time Governor. Our state deserves someone who will devote full-time to the office and to bringing good-paying jobs to Wisconsin.
Minimum Wage. Increasing the state minimum wage would bring a long-needed increase to those at the bottom of the pay scale. Scott Walker has no intention of increasing the minimum wage, dismissing the long-overdue reform as a "political grandstanding stunt”.
Mary Burke has endorsed increasing the state minimum wage to $10.10/hr.
On one hand, you have a career politician who has failed miserably on his central campaign pledge of growing the state economy. You have a person who neglects his office during a self-serving run for the White House. On the other hand, you have a candidate with a business education, broad experience, and a history of success in the Commerce Department and industry. Which one is better qualified to bring good jobs to Wisconsin?