Petulant, childish Texas Democrats need to return home

“1 Walker Defeats 14 Runners!” That was the bumper sticker Congressman Sean Duffy and his wife, Rachel, gave to me at a supper club in Washburn, Wisconsin, after we enacted our budget reforms. 

Early in 2011, 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois to block a vote on our reforms to collective bargaining at the state and local level. They were invoking a little-known provision in the state constitution that requires a quorum to be present in the state senate prior to a vote on a measure with an appropriation in it. 

We worked with the remaining members of the state senate to remove the appropriations from the bill and pass the reforms. Once the measure was approved, the absent lawmakers returned to the state Capitol, and the savings from our reforms were appropriated to a shortfall in Medicaid we inherited from the previous administration. 

The 14 Senate Democrats might have stayed in Illinois through the remainder of that legislative session had we not taken action to separate the bill.  It just took patience and determination to keep Republican lawmakers together while their Democrat colleagues fled the state. 

The Wisconsin State Patrol was notified, but their jurisdiction ends at the state line. Senate leadership stopped automatic deposits of the senators’ paychecks and, instead, locked them in their desks. We tried many different ways of applying legal and public pressure on the fleeing Senators. 

At the same time, hundreds—then, thousands—of protesters occupied the State Capitol. Eventually, some 100,000 took over the area. The Occupy movement didn’t start on Wall Street; it started on my street in Madison, Wisconsin. 

In the end, we prevailed. Our reforms were enacted and saved state and local governments billions of dollars. More importantly, they ended seniority and tenure. Now schools and other governments can staff based on merit and pay based on performance. 

Since 2011, the tax burden on the hard-working people of Wisconsin has dropped by more than $13 billion. More people were working during my time in office than ever before in our history, and unemployment rates dropped below 3 percent. 

We also passed a series of common-sense conservative reforms. One of them requires a photo identification card to vote. Critics at the time claimed that the new law would suppress the vote. 

The facts, however, show that more than 70 percent of the eligible voters cast their ballots in the November 2020 election.  It was one of the highest turnouts in decades.

Nationwide, the vast majority of Americans—including nearly 70 percent of black voters—approve of a requirement to show proper identification to vote.  It should be easy to vote but hard to cheat! 

Democrat lawmakers in Texas fled the state to avoid a vote on voter integrity legislation. The new bills in the Lone Star State include a prohibition on election officials sending vote-by-mail applications to people who have not requested one and new identification requirements for people voting by mail. They also put limits on measures that were used in Houston during the pandemic that allow drive-through voting and extended hours for early voting.  

In addition to a requirement to present a state-issued photo identification card to vote, Wisconsin has similar requirements for absentee ballots and early voting. Critics of our laws also claimed voter suppression, but the facts show that the turnout last November was one of the largest in the nation. 

Joe Biden repeated some of the same bogus arguments this week during an address in Pennsylvania. He was clearly under pressure from Congressional Democrats pushing legislation to take control of the elections system away from state and local governments and give it to the federal government. Yeah, that’s what we need–the idiots who couldn’t even roll out the Obamacare website–to run our elections. 

The big lie really came when Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams attacked Georgia’s reasonable election reforms earlier this year. That error cost Atlanta the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Joe Biden’s claim that the Georgia law “ends voting hours early” was so bad, even the Washington Post labeled it false. Yet, he and his supporters repeat similar lies over and over again. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is right to stand up to the fleeing lawmakers. Stop their pay and call them out. 

The average citizen does not get paid if they do not show up for work. The average citizen cannot get on a plane without a mask. The average citizen has to show photo identification to get on a plane. 

The Texas Democrats who fled in a private plane showed that they are not standing up for the average citizen. They are gravitating to the source of their power and control: Washington, D.C. Just like we stood our ground in Wisconsin and won, conservatives must do the same in Texas. 

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.

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