Gov. Scott Walker talks with employees from ACE Marine in Green Bay on Tuesday as part of the Talk With Walker series taking place across Wisconsin. We think he should open some of these events to the public.
Gov. Scott Walker launched his Talk with Walker tour this week. The aim of the gubernatorial road trip was to "talk with Wisconsinites about their priorities and ideas for building a better Wisconsin," as his news release stated.
The governor kicked off the tour with an event Tuesday in Green Bay. He made stops in Marshfield and La Crosse on Thursday and plans future visits to Eau Claire, Wausau and the Milwaukee area.
Walker has also outlined his five key areas for the budget he'll introduce in February: creating jobs, developing the state workforce, transforming education, reforming government and investing in infrastructure. "As we work on the budget, I want to have a conversation with the people of Wisconsin about the best ways to move our state forward," he said when announcing the tour.
We applaud Walker and his decision to meet with state residents and to listen to their concerns, from soliciting ideas on how they'd like their money spent to generating solutions to "problems facing our state."
Given the controversial nature of some of his proposals, such a tour is a great idea. You never know where the next great idea is lurking, waiting for an opportunity to be voiced in a setting where it will get attention.
We support Walker's tour and like the idea of it, but we also hope that he will broaden it beyond the workplace and make some of the events public.
The tour's first meeting was at ACE Marine in Green Bay, which he had visited in June on the day of the gubernatorial recall election. Tuesday's meeting was not open to the public.
His Thursday stops at Lang Furniture in Marshfield and Torrance Casting in La Crosse were meetings only with employees of those firms.
While we're sure some good ideas came of those meetings, we also think it's a bit of preaching to the converted. Walker's pro-business proposals are unlikely to meet much opposition there.
The governor would likely face a tougher crowd during a tour stop at a public university or school, for example, given some of the changes he is proposing (expanding vouchers and tying funding to job preparation for students) and some of the changes he has succeed in getting through the Legislature, such as ending collective bargaining for most public employees.
But Walker indicated Thursday afternoon that he isn't likely to change the venue.
"Unlike legislative listening sessions, or other types of typical government events, which are largely dominated by special interest groups, Governor Walker thought it would be valuable to talk directly to workers at small businesses," Walker press secretary Cullen Werwie said in a statement.
The listening tour is a great idea and we remain hopeful that the governor will include some public events. If Walker wants a true conversation with a diverse range of Wisconsinites, he'll broaden the reach of his tour.