MADISON, Wisconsin—As crowds swelled inside and outside the state Capitol and protesters sprayed Republicans with spit, insults, and hatred, Gov. Scott Walker could be forgiven for having a moment of pause, for asking himself if it was all worth it.
Wisconsin’s public-sector unions were calling for Walker’s political head. Some wanted more. They threatened his job, his life, his family.
All because the newly elected Republican governor was willing to challenge the status quo, to find a long-term fix to a state budget that had for so long jumped from crisis to crisis, to restore power to a long-forgotten constituency: Wisconsin taxpayers.
Wisconsin has come a long way since Walker’s first turbulent days in office in 2011. The Republican governor’s loss to Democrat Tony Evers in the Nov. 6 election marks the end of an era of sweeping conservative reforms.
Walker’s signature success, Act 10, is, for many, the defining win of his two eventful terms. But it was just the beginning of a long list of limited-government reforms, the likes of which Wisconsin never had seen before.