Public Financial Management

Public Financial ManagementKEYNOTE: A Tale of How Two States and Their GovernorsWeathered the Fiscal Storms of 2011It was the best of times for Republicans. It was the worst of times for Democrats.The 2010 midterm elections not only saw the Republicans and their Tea Party al-lies take control of the US. House of Representatives by the highest margin in half Ta century, but they also gained control of a majority of governorships and statelegislatures. The ill feelings between the parties at the national level would nowfind its counterpart in state government.Meteorologists are fond of saying that conditions are prime for major. storms.When barometric pressure plummets, humidity increases and winds flow from theright direction, storm clouds are likely to appear on the horizon. The confluence ofthese weather ingredients often occur in the American heartland during the springtime, creating tremendous tornados and thunderstorms that leave behindcarnage in their wake.During the early months of 2011 a mixture of political, economic, and per-sonal factors produced a different type of storm that threatened the fiscal health ofthe American states, including many in the Midwest where spring storms are partT of the fabric of life. As with the tornados that devastate lives and properties wherethey strike, the fiscal twisters of 2011 left behind devastation in terms of government programs as well as the political reputations and careers that were caughttheir path.While there were many fiscal storms during 2011, none was more turbulent,destructive, and highly publicized than the one that blew through Wisconsinthe center of this storm was a fairly young first-term governor who madeheadlines for his role in an epic budget battle that was watched on televisionmuch of the nation. This is the story of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walkerand his management (or mismanagement, depending upon your point ofof the budget crisis that stood out in a season of fiscal tempests that battereds H3? 0Nothing about Scott Walker predicted that he would be the catalyst ofmatic events that would engulf the usually mild political environment in thatwestern state. Walker was no novice to politics. This Eagle Scout had been intive office practically his entire adult life. He was first elected to the WiscoiisiigfiState Assembly in 1993 and served until 2002 when he was elected Countyecutive of Milwaukee County. After two four-year terms he ran for governorfiscal and social conservative, winning with 52 percent of the vote. As theresults were being finalized on the night of November 2, 2010, the finalhad been added to a mix that would produce one of the most contentiousary storms in the history of the American states.The fiscal storm that engulfed Wisconsin in 2011 began to form longfore Scott Walker came to power in January of that year. The Greatof 2008 and 2009 had left Wisconsin and other states short on revenue andon budget shortfalls. The influx of federal stimulus dollars had helped tothe intensity of the budget pain endured in 2010, but as 2011 approachedA stimulus money was gone and record shortfalls appeared imminent in!

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