Job creation and fixing the state's crippling budget mess must be the top priorities for Wisconsin's next governor.
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is the best choice to tackle these difficult tasks.
The State Journal endorses Walker for governor.
Under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, the state has lurched from one budget crisis to another for years now — long before the recession ever began.
Chronic budget deficits have distracted Wisconsin leaders from thinking big and devising bold strategies for competitive advantage in the knowledge-based, global economy.
Did the Democrats in control of state government adopt comprehensive school finance reform with incentives to boost performance?
Nope. Just a big favor for the teachers union: repeal of a pay-raise cap without accountability for better results.
Have the Democrats given Wisconsin a modern and more competitive tax structure?
Nope. Wisconsin's property and personal income tax burdens — especially on the middle class — still rank among the nation's worst.
What about a Commerce Department with laser-like focus on encouraging private business and job growth?
Nope. Five Commerce secretaries in seven years under Doyle with only one out of every 10 Commerce workers focused on business development.
Walker's record as county executive suggests he's much more likely than his Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, to prioritize private-sector job creation and control spending to fix the budget.
Walker has consistently proposed county budgets that hold down property taxes while seeking efficiencies in county services. He's made tough decisions during tight times, such as trying to close swimming pools with high costs and low attendance. He's pared back county board spending with vetoes.
Since his election in 2002, Walker has made a huge personal sacrifice by giving back $370,000 of his salary to county taxpayers.
Walker's pledge to stop a modern, high-speed passenger train — one that's already paid for — is disturbing. So is Walker's excessive pandering to social conservatives on issues such as embryonic stem-cell research and abortion.
But Walker is no extremist. The Republican has been repeatedly re-elected in a hugely-Democratic county.
In another election year, we could support Barrett, a likeable and seasoned leader with high character and some interesting ideas.
But not this election. This fall's decision is about jobs and the economy.
Walker is the best choice for getting Wisconsin back on track financially and competing for more good-paying jobs.