RUSH: We have the governor of Wisconsin on the phone with us, Scott Walker, who is subject to a recall attempt in the state of Wisconsin because of the bang-up good job he has done in trying to reform some of the practices involving collective bargaining and state employees in the state of Wisconsin. Governor, welcome, and thank you for giving us some time with you today.
WALKER: Hey, Rush, my pleasure, great to be with you and your listeners.
RUSH: Now, let me set this up by letting people in the audience know some facts. You took office in January 2011, and at the time, as governor, you faced a budget deficit of $3.6 billion.
RUSH: You made some decisions. That “deficit” is now a projected $300 million surplus without raising taxes, without furloughs or layoffs for state employees. You have also asked state employees to pay 12.6% of their health care premiums. Private sector workers pay double that. You’ve asked state employees to contribute 5.8% of their salary toward their pensions. They previously paid zero. You’ve got an excellent track record in turning the state around. Why do they want to get rid of you?
WALKER: Well, I think that’s a logical question. I think the bottom line is the big government unions in Washington, more than anything, want their money, and they don’t want their workers’ money. It’s not just about collective bargaining or pensions or anything else like that. It’s about the fact they also give the nearly 300,000 public servants, the people who legitimately work hard every day for both our state and our local government in Wisconsin, I gave them the right to choose, which means they don’t have to be a part of a union anymore, and their union dues can’t be forcibly taken out of their paycheck. That’s what this is really about. That’s why they’re gonna break the bank, take us on this summer in these recall elections and everything is kind of air cover for that. Our reforms are working.
RUSH: Signatures are due today; is that right?
WALKER: That’s right.
RUSH: How does this recall process work?
WALKER: Yeah, it is bizarre. They need to get at least a number equivalent to a quarter of all the votes cast for governor in 2010. So that’s just over 540,000. They’ll probably turn in close to 700,000 today. But, remember, that’s equivalent, meaning in our state you don’t actually have to be a voter to sign it, all you have to be is eligible to vote, which means 18, not a felon, and lived in the state for at least 28 days. So you can imagine all the shenanigans there.
WALKER: But, from what they say, they’re probably gonna turn in 720,000 today. That’s a lot of signatures, but they’ve been planning this since late last spring. They’ve got tons of money from the big government unions in Washington, around the country. And, you know, in comparison, they went out, solicited some 700,000 signatures, but that’s through months and months of preparation, two months of effort after six months of preparation and they still have fewer signatures in terms of people out there than there were votes cast in the last gubernatorial election even for the losing candidate, the mayor of Milwaukee. So my hope is, if we can affirm the majority of people in the state and get their trust just like we did in 2010, we’ll be able to do it again in 2012.
RUSH: I’m talking to Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, subject to recall petition. So the AP is reporting that, as you say, they will turn in enough signatures. I can’t remember where, Governor, it might have been Wisconsin, just the past couple of weeks, or it could have been before the Christmas break, but I read some state doing something similar. And, again, it might have been Wisconsin. Petitions had to be submitted and they were signed by Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck —
WALKER: That was Wisconsin.
RUSH: — and judged to be legal.
WALKER: We will go through and we will review and challenge all of these. We’ve got literally thousands of grassroots volunteers willing to help us out in that, but we had a guy on the ABC affiliate in Milwaukee that went on TV and claimed he signed it 80 times. In fact, his quote was something like, “Well, George Bush cheated, so we’re gonna cheat, too,” was essentially what he told the reporter. Under Wisconsin law, only one of those signatures should count, but, up until we went up to court, the campaign was the one that had to challenge that. Now the agency that runs elections in the state will have to review those. But, you know, I said three or four months ago at least when they first talked about the date of the recall, I said, if you think about it, if they get 9,000 or 10,000 union activists and whether they are people in the state or people they had to pay to come in from somewhere else — one way or another — they were gonna get enough signatures.
Even with some of these other ridiculous cases, they’ll probably still get enough because we saw it in Ohio, and we saw them putting the bodies in that they needed to do it. The key quest… (unintelligible) In Ohio’s case, they never saw the effect of the reforms. In Wisconsin’s case, we’ve seen it. In September, kids like my kids went back to public school, and our schools in nearly every part of the state were the same or better. And then a few weeks ago in December, people got their property tax bills and, for the first time in years, the school tax levies actually went down across the state on average. People have seen no matter how many attack ads from the big government union bosses, the bottom line is the reforms are working.
RUSH: And so they’re living the reforms that you’ve made, they’re actually demonstrable.
WALKER: Yeah, we have a great choice here. We don’t even know who the candidate is against us yet other than we know the real opponent will be this money coming in from out of state from these government unions, but in the end it’s a real choice. You can go back to the days of double-digit tax increases, billion-dollar budget deficits, and record job loss, because, in the three years before I took office, Wisconsin lost 150,000 private sector jobs. Or we can move forward and ultimately be in a position where we can move the state forward. We’ve had a net increase of jobs this year. We balanced the budget without tax increases. We did it the old-fashioned way. We made structural changes that think more about the next generation than just about the next election. And we were able to protect core services by making these reforms. That’s where I think the majority of people in our state want to go, and I hope given the chance again this summer with the help of a lot of grassroots supporters and people across the country at ScottWalker.org can help us out as well.
RUSH: Well, that’s why they want to recall. You’re effective. You’re doing what you said you were gonna do, and what you said you were gonna do is working, and that’s the last thing the left can tolerate. They just can’t tolerate this kind of success. It disproves every belief of theirs. I just went back and checked, the story was from December 14th. The signatures of Mickey Mouse and Adolf Hitler will be counted on recall petitions targeting you as long as they’re properly dated and include a Wisconsin address. Nobody’s been laid off for this despite all the screaming. How in the world can that stand?
WALKER: Well, we went through — unlike other states, you know, what are the ways you balance a budget? Some states raise taxes. We didn’t. In fact, we lowered them. Some states laid off, including some Democrat controlled states, laid off thousands of public employees.
RUSH: Look at Illinois, look at how many people are leaving Illinois.
WALKER: Yeah. And it’s exactly right. I mean look at the mess they’ve got down there. They have massive tax increases. They claim they were gonna do that. In fact, they boldly said last year they were doing that instead of what we were doing in Wisconsin. They’ve got a huge fiscal mess. They just surpassed California as the worst bond rating in the country. They’ve got a 10% unemployment and they’ve got continued problems in that state. We took on our problems head on, we took them on. We thought more about our kids and our grandkids’ future than we did our own political futures. And, in the end, I believe I still have faith in the American voter and the voter in Wisconsin, I believe, if given the truth, the majority of people in our state will say, “You know what, we want leaders who do what they say they’re gonna do. We want leaders who think about the future, not just about being worried about what group may run ads against them.”
And, in the end, I think we’re gonna prevail. It’s gonna take a ton of support. In the last two months we raised more money than any candidate for governor has and 79% of those donations came from people who gave us $50 or less. So I always tell folks go to ScottWalker.org because we’re gonna have a tremendous grassroots army of supporters out there who are gonna help us take on this big government union money.
RUSH: When does this actually happen? The signatures get turned in today, then they get counted. How long does that take, and when is the actual recall election?
WALKER: The verification process will probably take at least a month if not longer. We believe, based upon that timeline, probably having a June — maybe even early July — election. So this will drag on awhile. We’re ready to do it now. You know, unfortunately for my taxpayers in Wisconsin, this baseless recall effort is gonna cost the taxpayers $9 million on top of the fact that we’re probably gonna see $60 to $70 million worth of ads and attacks and everything else out there, which I think most people are just sick of. But, in the end, that’s the way the law is. It is what it is. Assuming they have enough valid signatures, we’ll have the election by midsummer. But I think it’s one of those that’s important not only in Wisconsin, I think it’s important across America, not only for 2012 but more so long term. And that’s why I think the big government unions are so invested in this. They know that when we prevail, this will send a powerful message in every statehouse and in the halls of Congress that, once and for all, people can stand up and do the right thing, the courageous thing, and there will be people there standing with them.
RUSH: Well, you’re proving that the contentions the unions make, the economic contentions they make are not true. You’re proving that with policy and the results. Your neighboring state, Illinois, had to raise taxes 66%, still didn’t help them.
RUSH: You have success on your side. It’s just a matter of — it’s the age-old bugaboo — whether or not people, voters of Wisconsin who are living the success, they can see it, you mentioned their property tax assessment, they can see it, whether they’re gonna be overcome by emotion and part of the campaigns and so forth. And you are gonna have, I think it’s bellwether, you’re gonna have national union support arrayed against you.
WALKER: Yeah, there’s no doubt about it. I’m a firm believer in the truth. We saw on a smaller basis, but we saw a similar outpouring of national attention from the big government unions last summer when six of my state senators faced recall elections and in the end we prevailed and upheld a majority for the state senate. I believe it was because of the truth. In fact, one of those key elections involved a district in nearby Milwaukee and on the eve of the recall election the comptroller of that city had to come out and admit that the reforms we put in place will ultimately save that city $25 million and net anywhere from $11 million to $17 million of savings each year. That’s after the mayor, months earlier, said our reforms were gonna devastate the city. The facts ultimately came out and I think that helped win in that seat and I think the facts, if given a chance to get out, will ultimately allow us to yet again earn the trust of a majority of people in our state.
RUSH: Governor, best of luck. We, of course, as always will be tracking this and stay in touch.
WALKER: Thanks, Rush. Good to be with you.
RUSH: Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin.