Caffeinated Thoughts caught up with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker while he was at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Spring Kickoff in Waukee, IA last Saturday.  He discussed Common Core, immigration, executive orders he would rescind, Iran, the marriage debate, Obamacare, life and what would set him apart as a candidate should he decide to run for President of the United States.

You can watch the video here or below:

Below is the full transcript of the interview:

Shane Vander Hart (SVH): What is your time frame on when you are going to decide whether to run for President or not?

Scott Walker (SW): Every two years the most important duty at least for the Wisconsin Governor is to propose and pass a budget and sign into law.  Our next state budget will be signed, if everything goes right which historically it has since I have been governor, by June and I imagine that we’ll be in a position by the end of June with the budget completed to come out and make an announcement one way or the other.  Obviously we are here and are feeling good about where things are at and we feel strongly about the fact that we need new leadership, not just a new President, but a new common sense, conservative-minded President who is going to move this country forward.

SVH: Common Core seems to be an issue that is cropping up, at least in the primary election, and we are seeing some differences between different candidates.  Where do you stand on Common Core?

SW: I oppose it.  I like high standards.  I think high standards are a good thing.  I have two kids who went to public schools who are in college now, and I’ve got two nieces who are in public schools.  I want high standards, but I want them set by people at the local level – by parents, by teachers, by school board members and others out there. 

Years ago, when I first ran in 2010, it wasn’t even on our radar.  I didn’t hear about it, it didn’t really come up anywhere on my radar, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago in 2013 in our state when a number of parents and concerned citizens and even teachers came to us so after that we drafted legislation to pull back from that.  It had been in the law in our state before I became governor, we actually have an independently-elected Superintendent of Public Instruction who is not in my cabinet who actually administers it, so we have to change the law to do that.

The legislature didn’t pass it, but I put in my budget language that said, that pulls back on it and says no school district has to use it, and we pulled the testing for any money for Smarter Balanced.

SVH: When you campaigned, you were campaigning on a repeal, and are now pushing, putting forth an opt-out…

SW: Well it really is a repeal.  There is no law that mandates it.  What it does, the language we put in explicitly says school districts don’t have to, and that the language in there… there is not a law that says they have to do Common Core.  There is a law that says they have to do standards, and then there is a law.. or there is money in the budget for Smarter Balanced.  We got rid of that, so that is effectively a repeal.

SVH: What is Wisconsin going to end up with next year without Smarter Balanced if that is not funded?

SW: Oh I think what we’ll do is have whole options of things that people can use for testing so people, so school boards, administrators can pick at the local level which option they want to use so whether it is the ACT or any number of other things out there, but they are not told by the state government exactly what they have to do and they do not have to abide by, they don’t have to be obligated to use Common Core curriculum.

SVH: With immigration, where are you at with immigration reform?  Are you just looking at border security?  Where do we go from there when the border is secure?

SW: A number of things, border security for sure… unlike this president I’ve actually gone to the border, I’ve been there with the Governor of Texas, I’ve talked to local and state officials.  It is a huge mess far beyond immigration.  It is a threat to our safety, our security, really potentially our sovereignty out there so we have to deal with that.

In addition to border security, everybody is going to say that – which is a good thing – we need a high interest in that that.  I would enforce the current law by using E-Verify and have an effective E-Verify system for every employer in this country to required to use.  I would not support amnesty, in fact if someone wants to become a citizen, I believe they have to go back to their country of origin and get in line like everyone else in line.

For legal immigration going forward, one of the things the national media doesn’t get is that there are already restrictions to legal immigration.  I just believe they should be set by economics, in particular, I believe the number one priority of the legal immigration system for the next president and the next Congress should be looking out for American workers and American wages.

When times are tough and unemployment is high and labor participation rates are low why would we want to have wide-open doors that floods the market?  Conversely when times get better and American workers are back to work and wages are up well then at some point there may be a need for more legal immigration, but I think that should be a level we are willing to adjust according to its impact on the economy and the priority should be American workers and wages.

SVH: Wisconsin’s marriage amendment was struck down by a federal judge.  What should be done to address federal judges intervening in state constitutional amendments and laws?

SW: I’m still hoping.  I may be one of the few out there, but I’m still hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court, not in our case, but it would apply to our state’s case if these other states are victorious.  I still am going to hope that the United States Supreme Court will say, “yes indeed, states have a right to define what marriage is.”

I voted for that as a state lawmaker in legislation.  I voted for that as just a voter in Wisconsin’s Constitution. I defended it as Governor along with our Attorney General in the federal court, the Court of Appeals and tried to get it to the U.S. Supreme Court.  But my hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court will do that.  If they don’t, the only other viable option out there is to support a constitutional amendment which I would believing not just in marriage being defined as one man, one woman, but I also believe in states rights.  I believe that is an issue that appropriately belongs in the states.

SVH: If you decide to run and should you be elected President, what would you on day one would be the first thing that you do?

SW: Oh there is a whole bunch of executive actions that I would undo.

SVH: What is the first thing that comes to your mind?

SW: Well you look at this illegal action that the President took on immigration two weeks after the last election.  I was one of twenty-six governors who went to court successfully thus far to pull back on something he said himself at least 22 times that he couldn’t do.

You look at that, and equally if not more important, is not an order, but an executive action he has done with Iran or is attempting to do… a framework… whatever that means.  It seems to be a moving target, and hopefully for the interest of America, Israel and others around the world they don’t get to an agreement, but if they do I would pull back on that on day one as well.

SVH: As far as Obamacare… and everybody is saying they’ll repeal it… what do we replace it with?  Do we replace it with anything?

SW: You certainly don’t replace it with a whole other level of government.  To me, you repeal it and if anything you take the few limited things that were positive and there were few… For example allowing people to go purchase plans across state lines, I think that is legitimate.  I think beyond that, going forward at the federal and state level requiring some sense of transparency so consumers – really my goal with Obamacare, it’s not there today, but eventually to be successful in terms of holding down costs, eventually it has to lead to rationing.  There’s just no doubt.  That’s not where it is today, but that is where it would lead to.

I believe the alternative is to go down the path saying people should have skin in the game whether they buy employer-based health care, whether they buy individual health care plans, whether they use health savings accounts or flex accounts.  And really the best way to have skin in the game is to manage not just health care costs, but to manage our health and wellness is to know what the health care costs are associated with it. 

We know more about our cell phone plans than we know about our health plans.  So to me I think it is legitimate for the government to say consumers deserve to have the transparency knowing what is involved with health care so we don’t make decisions about our blood pressure or diabetes or other things out there – we have full access to knowledge of the costs are associated with it.  But it should not require more government at the federal or at the state level.  It should really be up to patients and their families to make health care decisions with objective and open information.

SVH: On the subject of life, what kind of prolife legislation would a President Walker sign?  A personhood law?… Or…

SW: The personhood law would require an amendment and the President, no matter who he is, doesn’t handle any constitutional amendments so that would be something who are passionate about that in the Senate need to have leaders there.  But I believe in life, I believe in that long before I was in politics as president of the college students for life long ago when I was in school. 

So I have a passion for protecting life that goes all the way back, that was reaffirmed when Tonnette, my wife, was pregnant with our first son Matthew and the year after with Alex when I saw those ultrasounds.  One in particular Matthew had his thumb in his mouth and you could see the fingers and you realize that is not a “blob” that is life. 

But in terms of legislation, at least under the current context, a couple things I think are appropriate.  Certainly affirming the Hyde Amendment saying that tax dollars should not be going to support abortions or abortion-related services.  Not only do prolife people like me believe that, but I believe the vast majority of Americans want that.

Secondly, I’ve talked about this at the state level, but it is reasonable to do at the federal level as well, and that is to say, to put a prohibition on abortions like late-term abortions after five months, that is when an unborn child can feel pain, that is when many experts say there is a critical increase in terms of complications for the mother of that child.  I think those are reasonable things we can act on right away.  Obviously there are other things that can be pursued in the future, but those are things that can be done right away and don’t run in conflict with even the current Supreme Court decision.

SVH: What sets you apart?  With this potentially large field, what sets Scott Walker apart from everyone else?

SW: I think three simple things.  A there are a lot of great people some of whom are friends of mine, but I think one – overwhelmingly voters are looking for someone who is new and fresh if we are going to take on someone from the past like Hillary Clinton we nee someone from the future.  Secondly, I think voters overwhelmingly have said they want someone from outside of Washington.  They have said they want someone with big and bold ideas that comes from outside of nation’s capital because they have had it with Washington. 

And I think most importantly what voters tell me here in Iowa and across the country is they want someone who doesn’t just talk, but who has done it.  They want someone who can fight and win every single day for hardworking taxpayers like them.  I think that is what makes us unique and why we are interested – we are not announced or declared yet, but it is certainly something compelling to us when people say “I like you, I like the others, but I like the fact that you don’t just talk about it, you don’t just fight for it, you actually get it done.”

One of my favorite tweets in Iowa a few months ago was someone who said, “I like Scott Walker because he wins without caving.”  That is the essence of what we are talking about.

SVH: Thank you so much Governor.

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  1. I don’t buy his answer on what he has done being effectively a “repeal”.

    First, the budget does not actually “repeal” CCSS as being the State Model Standards… it says that the DPI Superintendent’s choice of CCSS “shall have no effect”. It would have been far better to declare some other standards the model standard or put a process in place for coming up with our own model standards through University of Wisconsin or something.

    Second, and probably most disturbing, he defunds Smarter Balanced which is good, but then does not put language in guaranteeing that the replacement State assessments will not be Common Core aligned. They are holding the RFP on the new assessments until after the budget passes… I think a bait-and-switch is brewing here.

    Third, the same budget Walker touts as being anti-CCSS is rife with Educational Accountability language – Holding districts, schools, and teachers “accountable” via high stakes testing. This implies the opposite of the “local control” that Walker touts. It also shows that he is dead set on using high stakes tests to help the State and not the People control public (and because he’s high on vouchers/charters … private too) schools.

  2. Unfortunately, there is just way too much clever game-playing with Governor Walker. As a grassroots activist in the state of Wisconsin for more than five years, two or three of them fighting Common Core, I am deeply troubled by the fact that our governor says lots of things that simply aren’t backed up by his actions. Let’s start with his claim that local districts “don’t have to use the standards.” TECHNICALLY, we are a local control state, and districts can do what they like, yes. BUT–and it’s a very big but–when you push for “accountability” measures in which the state has the power to grade teachers, schools, and districts based on high-stakes, Common Core-aligned assessments, what is the likelihood that most districts will find the motivation or courage to move away from the standards? Governor Walker is not an idiot. He knows there’s a reason that, to date, only one school district in the state (Germantown) has opted not to use the Common Core.

    And as for his claim that he’s “defunding Smarter Balanced” (SBAC) in the currently proposed biennial budget in order to offer a bunch of alternative assessments, that also appears to be a very deceptive game. Two or three months ago, I and two of my grassroots colleagues were told by a state representative that an RFP/RFB would be issued “sometime next week” for alternative assessments to replace SBAC. We’re still waiting to see that request. It’s nowhere. Why would this be the case? In talking to a friendly senator’s office the day after we were told to look for the RFP/RFB “sometime next week,” two of my colleagues were matter-of-factly told that the replacement assessments that the State of Wisconsin seeks will likewise be Common Core-aligned. But, hey, it sure is a great talking point for Walker to be able to say he’s “defunding SBAC.” My prediction: The RFP/RFB for the replacement assessments will be issued right after the biennial budget is passed and signed into law, ensuring that the bait-and-switch remains difficult for the people and their representatives to recognize until it’s too late.

    When it comes to Wisconsin and Governor Walker: The Common Core-aligned, high-stakes assessments aren’t going anywhere; the “accountability” system will remain in place and be strengthened, and local districts will continue to have the option to “do whatever they want”…as long as it’s Common Core.

  3. “The only other viable option out there is to support a constitutional amendment which I would believing not just in marriage being defined as one man, one woman, but I also believe in states rights. I believe that is an issue that appropriately belongs in the states.”

    1.) A federal constitutional amendment is NEVER going to happen. Two-thirds of the House and Senate would never vote for such a thing; and three-quarters of the states are never going to ratify it. He looks like a fool promoting such a ludicrous proposition.

    2.) Loving v. Virginia has already proven that marriage can be in the purview of the government. Marriage is only a states rights issue as long as those states aren’t in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    If Governor Walker believes that marriage is *only* between a man and woman, more power to him. I’m sure his church will continue to only marry opposite-sex couples. The government, however, is NOT a church. It has an obligation to treat all of its citizens equally under the law. If non-religious straight couples can marry at city hall, the state needs a non-religious reason why they have to prevent same-sex couples from having access to secular civil marriage. Unfortunately for Scott, no state has been able to explain why they *need* to prevent gay Americans from having access to civil marriage. So if I were him, I’d be telling every city hall in Wisconsin to start updating their marriage license forms. Because religious bigots like him are going to lose this fight for civil rights.

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