What Walker may do hinges largely on how Trump does

Matt Pommer • Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Gov. Scott Walker is thinking about his future. He told the Sheboygan Press he’ll announce in February whether he will seek re-election in 2018.

By then Walker will know whether Donald Trump is living in the White House. That would impact any future plans Walker might have about seeking a future GOP presidential nomination. Walker has said he wouldn’t run for president while being governor.

Gerrymandering guarantees a Republican-controlled Legislature next year. If Walker seeks reelection, GOP legislators will be more willing to follow his ideas than Democrats.

If he decides not to seek reelection, there will be a scramble for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. A February announcement will impact Republican ideas about selecting a candidate to oppose Democrat U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2018.

Actions earlier this year would suggest Walker will seek another term. He has conducted closed door meetings to talk to citizens, largely his backers, to talk about the future of the state. The press hasn’t been allowed to attend.

He has focused significant attention on western and northern Wisconsin where his popularity had sagged since the last gubernatorial election.

Rural residents have been displeased with how state school aid has impacted the ability of their districts to compete with larger districts for teachers.

Some larger districts – as well as some in Minnesota – have offered higher pay or bonuses to raid the smaller districts. Walker suggested it is like professional football teams and free agency. The statement annoyed school officials in smaller enrollment districts.

The number of young people seeking to become teachers also has declined since the 2011 law which gutted collective bargain- ing for most public employees in Wisconsin.

Financing of high education also will be a key topic in next year’s state budget deliberations. The governor has talked about linking appropriations for the University of Wisconsin System to a performance standard. No details have been spelled out.

But that sort of talk may concern campuses away from Madison. There are dramatic differences among graduation rates on the four-year campuses in the system.

System Administration numbers show that 56.4 percent of UWMadison students get a degree in four years. That’s almost twice as high as the system average.

Multiple factors are involved in graduation timing. Some students take light loads or take a year off so they can work to help pay the tuition bills. Some shift their education goals, requiring taking additional classes in different subjects.

Walker suggests that young people might want to at least consider vocations other than those which require getting a four-year college degree. Costs in the vocational school system are less than those at UW System campuses, he notes

“In fact, most of our job shortages require more than high school but less than a four-year degree,” Walker told the Sheboygan Press.

Degrees and diplomas are everything in getting good jobs. But ambition is always important, too. Consider Walker’s case. He left Marquette University without a degree.

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