Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) built his national notoriety on scapegoating public employees, who he falsely blamed for his state’s precarious financial situation. In his radical union-busting bill that effectively eliminated collective bargaining rights, Walker forced workers to pay more for their pensions and health coverage (effectively dealing them a pay cut).
During his campaign for governor, Walker promised that, as a government employee himself, he would immediately pay the full costs of his pension when he took office. But documents obtained by the Associated Press in response to an open records request reveal that Walker did not keep his promise and didn’t start paying the fully cost of his pension until state law forced him to:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who forced public workers to pay more for their pensions as part of a push to curb union rights, broke his campaign promise to pay the full cost of his state pension immediately after taking office in January.
The Associated Press requested copies of the governor’s pay stubs to see if he had fulfilled the campaign promise he made in June 2010. Walker said then he would begin paying the cost immediately in order to lead by example since he was proposing all state employees do the same.
“As governor, I’ll pay my share toward my retirement because everyone should pay their own way, including me,” Walker said during the campaign.
AP notes that Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) made the same pledge and also didn’t pay as promised. Walker didn’t pay anything between January and August, when the law kicked, and he was not paying his own pension costs during the bitter fight with unions over the new law in February and March.
Walker’s spokesman Cullen Werwie admitted Walker did not start paying the full cost for seven months. He did not have an explanation for why Walker failed to keep his word.
This isn’t the first time Walker has reneged on promises related to his pension. After winning election as Milwaukee County executive in 2002, Walker pledged that any staff under his control would waive all salary and benefit increases enacted after 2000. But in 2004, it came out that Walker’s staff had been taking higher pension benefits for two years. Walker also promised to return $60,000 of his $130,000 annual salary as county executive, but after winning reelection, he started giving back only $10,000 a year. Walker also collected more pension benefits based on his higher salary for two years.
Wisconsin Democrats say it’s outrageous that Walker is forcing other government employees to do what he won’t do himself. “It is indefensible Scott Walker promised to live by these rules and then broke his word to Wisconsin,” said Scot Ross, head of the group One Wisconsin Now.