I’m interrupting this week’s GOP primary debate circus to remind my fellow conservatives that some really fantastic things are happening on the state level. It’s gratifying to see that some state leaders aren’t sitting around waiting for a new administration before tackling tough issues.
Going into 2016, conservatives need to highlight and defend the efforts of governors and legislators who are making positive efforts to get their states on the right track. The key to winning in 2016 is demonstrating that our ideas have worked on the state level and that a Republican president can be committed to the principles that guide our policy initiatives. Jim Geraghty of National Review has a few examples here.
Two leaders I’ve had my eyes on are Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. Given that Governor Walker is currently in a competitive presidential primary, I suppose I can overlook the other candidates who are throwing shade at his record. My mentor, Ann Coulter, taught me to never repeat the bad things people say about you. Here’s what I wrote in March about what is happening in Wisconsin:
Property taxes have gone down. Over 13,000 businesses have been created. Unemployment is down, and not in the fake way like the national numbers; more people actually have jobs. These are just some of the reasons exit polls in 2014 showed that Governor Walker won 18-29 year-olds. As I’ve said before, it will take a Generation Xer like Walker with an entrepreneurial spirit and distrust for the government to put Wisconsin in the black.
Then there’s Governor Ducey, the Walker of the West. Harry Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Unfortunately, Governor Ducey finds himself in the Capitol facing opposition from a Republican who prefers to pout because he doesn’t get the credit he thinks he deserves. There’s really no pretty way to put it – Arizona is lagging behind when it comes to K-12 education. There’s no liberal or conservative spin on this pig. The heart of the debate is always spending, but this time Republicans actually have the upper-hand with a plan that puts more money in classrooms without raising taxes, which makes it even more ridiculous that Republican Treasurer Jeff DeWit is fighting Governor Ducey on the issue.
Governor Ducey’s plan would put over $2 billion in Arizona classrooms by accelerating payments from the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund. From the Arizona Capitol Times:
Ducey’s plan would increase the annual 2.5 percent payout from the endowment fund to 10 percent for five years, and then down to 5 percent for another five years before returning to the original rate. The Ninth Floor estimates that the plan will pump an additional $2.2 billion into K-12 schools, with the majority, about $1.8 billion, coming during the first five years of the plan.
This is a way to get money back into classrooms without raising taxes. Make no mistake, this isn’t a liberal talking point. The last thing some unions and school administrators want is to take money out of their pockets and put it into classrooms. They’d rather earmark that money for part-time HVAC and lawn care techs who receive full benefits. Seriously.
DeWit, who ran unopposed for the position previously held by Ducey, is now lobbying the state legislature to oppose the plan. The Arizona Capitol Times notes that he is using the same talking points as Democrats who oppose the plan. There seems to be two possible explanations – DeWit is not the conservative he presented himself to be or he’s throwing a bureaucratic hissy fit because his office didn’t present a successful plan first. Either way, he’s willing to side with unions and liberals (but I repeat myself) in holding Arizona kids for ransom in order to defeat a conservative plan with strong support from Arizonans.
So, thinking back to Thursday’s GOP debate, perhaps it’s a good thing that we have a competitive presidential primary. The last thing Republicans need is another thin-skinned politician like Jeff DeWit who turns on conservative principles once elected.