|Kedzie (click for larger version)|
June 26, 2012 | 02:44 PMThe ads have ended; the phones are quiet; and Wisconsin's unprecedented state recall elections are over.
Regardless of which side you may have fallen, the people of Wisconsin have delivered a clear and even stronger vote of support and confidence in their governor and the decisions made by him and the legislature to fundamentally reform state government as we know it.
It truly was what democracy looks like.
After 16 very long, and at times, turbulent months of protests, picketing, rhetoric, and recalls, the majority of citizens of this great state agree that such reforms are necessary and appropriate in order to the change the way in which state government functions.
They believe the days of high taxes, unchecked spending, limitless borrowing, and over-regulation need to be a thing of the past if Wisconsin is ever to move forward.
As the dust continues to settle from this most recent election, we are more certain than ever that Wisconsin will, in fact, continue forward.
As I have stated in numerous news columns, the state's budget woes would seemingly never end if we, as legislators, did not make the tough decisions to approve the Governor's plan to reign in state spending and allow local governments the flexibility they need to deal with current and future reductions from the state.
We were chastised, criticized, harassed, and even threatened not to go forward.
But we did not waiver, and were confident most citizens supported and embraced the reforms we proposed. If nothing else, the recall elections allowed the electorate to reaffirm that position.
Because of those reforms, the deficit was erased without raising taxes, the economy has improved and more people are working, local governments are balancing their budgets with greater ease, and those of us in the public sector are paying more for our health care and retirement benefits, just as those in the private sector have been doing for a very long time.
Businesses both in and out of the state are more confident in their ability to create and grow jobs here, now that Wisconsin has taken such bold steps to reshape the role of state government.
Many believe Wisconsin is back on track to economic stability and could serve as a model for other struggling states to follow.
Although there may be a temporary shift in control of the state senate due to the recall elections, we will continue to move forward with an agenda that focuses on jobs, the economy, and building off many of the successful reforms implemented in the previous legislative session.
With the Legislature on hiatus until January of next year, when control of the Senate could shift again, we intend to be ready on day one to continue our work, so Wisconsin can continue to work.
Over the last year, many have questioned the validity and integrity of the recall election process, and the need to change things so as not to find ourselves in a non-stop campaign season.
While the Constitution lays the foundation for such elections, it also codifies that elected officials of the state serve two or four year terms, presumably without interruption.
Some have made the argument the recall process should only be implemented for the most egregious acts, and not simply because an elected official made a decision to change public policy.
It is a valid argument, one which is sure to be debated in the coming year.
A defining moment in Wisconsin history has come to pass, one which reaffirms the will of the electorate to change the way in which state government governs.
There is a desire for new ideas and effective leadership to see those ideas through, even in the face of extreme adversity and repeated obstacles.
There is an understanding that recall elections simply for the sake of recall elections is disruptive to the continuity of representative democracy, and may harm the very institutions that promote democracy.
But now, with this chapter finally behind us, we can once again turn our attention and continue to move our state, forward.
Sen. Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 or by calling toll-free 1 (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or on-line at www.senatorkedzie.com