MILWAUKEE -- Governor Scott Walker pledged $100 million in state money to improve economic conditions in Milwaukee Monday, April 30th. The timing of this announcement, just one week before the gubernatorial recall primary election, has Walker's opponents wondering if it's about jobs or votes.
Jobs and the economy are becoming bigger and bigger issues leading up to the recall election. Milwaukee is Wisconsin's largest city and the state's economic engine, and Milwaukee's high unemployment rate - around 10 percent, is a serious problem.
Monday, Governor Walker offered a solution -- announcing that his administration will commit $100 million to economic development in Milwaukee. "What we're talking about here fundamentally is one of the biggest investments the state of Wisconsin through WHEDA has ever made. We know if we have a healthy Milwaukee, we have a healthy Wisconsin," Walker said.
Members of Walker's economic team toured various development sites in the city. Conspicuously absent during Monday's announcement was Milwaukee's Mayor, Tom Barrett.
Barrett says Walker has neglected the city's economic plight. Barrett is running on the Democratic ticket to replace Walker in the gubernatorial recall election. "My view is, he's a day late and a dollar short. He has been missing in action, certainly in the central city of Milwaukee," Barrett said.
"A lot of the naysayers poking issues at this are late to the game. We've been in the game, but unlike others out there, we're not doing this as a political statement. If this were about politics, I would have ran out a year ago or months ago and made a statement, but we empowered our team. This is what you do when you're in leadership," Walker said.
The $100 million announcement comes just 36 days before the gubernatorial recall general election. Mayor Barrett called it a political stunt. "The timing raises the question about whether this is about creating jobs in Milwaukee or about saving Scott Walker's job," Barrett said.
The recall primary is a week away, and the other Democratic candidates for governor were also campaigning Monday. Kathleen Falk was focused on the environment. "Enforcement of our environmental laws has plummeted under Gov. Scott Walker," Falk said.
Doug LaFollette says a vote for him is a vote for a new kind of positive progressive politics. "I'm urging people to vote for Doug LaFollette just to show them that it's possible for someone like me to get a lot of votes doing it a better way," LaFollette said.
State Senator Kathleen Vinehout criticized Walker's economic plan, saying in a statement: "Our current economic plan is to starve the public sector. The theory goes this way - if taxes are reduced, regulations are eliminated and programs are slashed, the private sector will be set free and thrive. The facts don't support that theory."