Minnesota Democrats had nothing but harsh words for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday.
The Republican governor and likely presidential candidate spent the day across the border, with plans to meet with state lawmakers, address the Minnesota Business Partnership and speak at the Freedom Club's spring dinner.
Democratic National Committee vice-chair and former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said no one could be happier to have Walker visit than himself and Ken Martin, chairman of Minnesota's Democratic Farmer Labor Party.
Walker's presence offered a reminder that Wisconsin's economy, under his leadership, has been a "complete and total failure," Rybak said on a conference call with reporters.
Martin noted the two states' long history of competition with each other, both in economics and athletics.
"It drove both states to work harder, ultimately supporting our economy in the long run," Martin said.
But through Walker's policies, Martin and Rybak said, Wisconsin is no longer competing with its neighbor state.
"He turned a once proud state into a shadow of its former self," Martin said.
Rybak made comparisons between Walker and Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who were both elected in 2010. He highlighted Dayton's decisions to invest in infrastructure and education, raise the minimum wage, expand Medicaid and adopt equal pay legislation, while decrying Walker's policies as beneficial only to the wealthiest few.
Wisconsin state Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, drew particular attention to cuts to public education.
Under the governor's proposed two-year budget, school districts would lose $127 million in per pupil state aid in 2015-16. Funding would be restored in the second year, but districts would still experience a net loss.
Rybak also noted that Wisconsin ranked 40th in private-sector job growth in the 12-month period ending in September, and the state's job growth has lagged the national average since six months into Walker's first term.
"He promised a 'road to prosperity,'" Rybak said. "About the only road to prosperity that's working in Wisconsin is the bridge that's being built to Minnesota."
Walker pushed back on those attacks following his meetings with state legislators, the Associated Press reported.
"You've had the advantage of other than a two-year period of having Republicans in charge of at least one part of government for some time. Before we came into office for many years, there was a Democrat governor, a Democrat assembly and a Democrat Senate," Walker said, according to the AP. "You look at where we were at, where we started and where we're at today there has been a dramatic change."
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