Walker’s Wisconsin budget proposal borrows from the Koch playbook

February 6, 2015

Earlier this week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker released his two-year budget proposal and like you’d expect from any Koch disciple, it includes plenty of material inspired by the billionaire brothers and their political agenda. In particular, Walker’s budget proposal includes a plan to allow an unlimited amount of taxpayer-funded school vouchers for Wisconsin students, and a whopping $250,000 line item for a study on the supposed health impacts of wind energy, an alternative energy source that has long drawn the ire of the Kochs and their allies.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Walker’s budget proposal removes an existing cap on the number of students who can use school vouchers to attend private schools in the state. What’s more, “Walker would also start paying for the program with money that otherwise would go to public schools,” per the report. Diverting public school funds to pay for private education is a hallmark of the Kochs’ education philosophy. Indeed, the brothers’ political arm in North Carolina has not only demonized the public education system in the Tar Heel State, but also vocally supported a scholarship program that similarly funds school vouchers using public school monies. Last year in Tennessee, the Charles Koch Institute hosted an event that spread misinformation about the state’s public schools in an effort to promote a private school voucher system

In addition to proposing that taxpayer funds for public schools be diverted to pay for private school tuition, Walker’s budget proposal includes a taxpayer-funded — at a quarter million dollars, no less — study on the health impacts of wind energy. According to a Huffington Post report, the Wisconsin Wind Siting Council submitted a study to the state legislature on this very topic last year, which like other scientific studies on the matter, found no “adverse health effects” resulting from proximity to wind turbines. Given the Kochs’ efforts to overturn a popular wind energy program in Kansas, when one county in the Badger State — the only in the country — found that wind turbines posed a health hazard, it follows that a Koch-funded group, Heartland Institute, immediately seized on the determination as evidence for its anti-wind energy campaign. Wisconsin and Kansas are but two examples of the self-serving fossil fuel billionaire Kochs’ efforts to block renewable energy programs across the country.

Last year, we cautioned that “a second term for Scott Walker is a second term for the Koch brothers,” and the proof is in right in Walker’s budget proposal, scarcely a month into his second term. Whether through his proposal to voucherize public education, or to spend taxpayer dollars on a redundant health study that panders to fossil fuel funded anti-wind energy interests, it’s clear that Governor Walker plans to continue to prioritize Koch brothers’ self-serving political agenda over all else.

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation