The man some consider the last remaining moderate Republican in the state Legislature has a few choice words for his fellow party members.
Appearing on the Devil’s Advocate radio show on The Mic/92.1 FM on Tuesday, Sen. Dale Schultz, who’s nearing the last day of his 31-year legislative career, delivered a comprehensive critique of the Republican agenda.
“We are now literally dismantling the state government, and people need to think long and hard about what they want for a future in our state,” he said.
Schultz, from Richland Center, is a former Senate majority leader who became a GOP pariah for voting against Gov. Scott Walker’s signature Act 10, the law limiting collective bargaining for most public employees, and against mining deregulation. In the race to replace him in his southwest Wisconsin district, he refused to support hard-line Republican Howard Marklein, the eventual winner.
It isn't the first time he's made critical remarks on his party, but in what might be his parting shots, Schultz slammed the Republican majority on issues ranging from gutting the public school system to plans to pass right-to-work legislation — and for widening the bitter political divide.
“How much pain do we have to dish out in this state to one another before we finally realize that we have to get along and we have to compromise with one another?” he said.
Schultz called the upcoming budget, which will be crafted by a GOP majority under pressure to provide tax cuts while dealing with a $2.2 billion deficit, “a budget for the ages, without a doubt.”
On cuts to K-12 funding, Schultz had this to say:
“The K-12 system in the last few years has laid off 3,000 personnel, and it looks to me like that’s going to accelerate. Out my way, I would not be shocked if a huge percentage of school districts wind up going to referendum to have the privilege of raising their own property tax because the state has walked away from its principal responsibility of providing for a free, appropriate and near equal education for everybody.”
On the potential $1 billion cost of expanding school vouchers:
“I have no idea where they could come up with that money short of taking it away from K-12 public education which is just going to accelerate its demise. We can’t afford one system in this state. How we are going to ever have ourselves in a situation of trying to fund two is beyond me. ... But with Gov. Walker’s impending announcement for the presidency, I know that he is going to do everything he can to push a robust voucher program because that is what’s popular with certain elements of the tea party."
On University of Wisconsin funding:
“The university has been absolutely eviscerated in the last budget, and any reserves that we Republicans told them they ought to have, like good business people have, have been spent while we provided no pain for students, who admittedly are struggling. And now we have a situation where we’re in a position to do real damage to a world-class university."
“What I hear from are people who are unionized workers in the private sector who are sitting on pins and needles and are wondering why is this happening to them when they just got done supporting the governor. And they can’t understand why he won’t stand up and say, ‘Not only am I not interested about this right now, it’s not a priority and quite frankly I’m going to veto it.' … But it seems that he doesn’t want to lead on this issue.”
On Walker’s probable presidential bid:
“I think Gov. Walker’s playing very dangerously here because the electrical workers, the plumbers union, the carpenters in this state, the Transportation Local 139 guys all supported the governor in his reelection. And while he did get a respectable margin, 52 percent, I don’t think he’s a winner without these guys. And it’d be kind of embarrassing running for president and simply not have the votes to win your own state.”
On the partisan divide:
“There’s a lot of people out there that have had a real rough go of it and they’re just tired of the bickering and the lack of productivity, it doesn’t matter if it’s Washington D.C. or the state of Wisconsin. I just think sooner or later we’re going to have an epiphany in this state, and whoever is able to be in the front of it when we do it is going to be incredibly popular.”