By Karen Stokes
On Sunday, Governor Scott Walker signed the 2015-17 Wisconsin state budget, the day before he announced his presidential bid.
The budget, which passed the assembly on Thursday, was signed into law by Walker who utilized his veto power to make 104 changes.
“The budget I signed today again brings real reform to Wisconsin and allows everyone more opportunity for a brighter future,” Walker said in a statement.
In opposition, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said in a statement that the budget, “throws the people of Wisconsin under Governor Walker’s campaign bus.”
According to thinkprogress.org, Walker removed a provision that would have limited drug testing to food stamp applicants with “reasonable suspicion” rationalizing that the administration should not have limits on who gets screened.
As a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s “unreasonable search and seizure” provision, Florida’s law of drug testing all welfare applicants was struck down by the state’s own court.
The governor also initially proposed to help applicants who tested positive for drugs with free drug treatment and job training but on Sunday eliminated the free treatment.
This presents a struggle for people in poverty with little money or no insurance to get drug treatment.
Drug testing benefit applicants has not been an effective method for rooting out drug use. In the states with active programs, positive drug test rates have been below one percent in all but one.
Also in the budget, college tuition for UW System schools are frozen for the next two years, aid to K-12 schools remain flat, and a statewide voucher program has been increased.
“With this budget, the taxpayers come first,” Walker said.
The budget was signed at Valveworks USA, a mining equipment factory in Waukesha just a few minutes from the Waukesha County Expo Center where Scott Walker, 47, officially launched his presidential campaign the next day.
Monday afternoon, people stood in a line for hours at the Expo center to witness the announcement of the 15th Republican to throw their hat into the ring.
Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Rachel Campos-Duffy and other conservatives led the rally.
Tonette Walker read an introduction for her husband to loud cheers from a mostly white crowd of nearly 5,000.
“We need new, fresh leadership with big, bold ideas from outside of Washington, “ said Walker.
“The kind of leadership that knows how to get things done, like we’ve done here in Wisconsin.”
In his speech, Walker praised Ronald Reagan and his foreign policy, promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act on the first day, approve the Keystone pipeline, support voter ID and abolish Common Core.
Not everyone was excited for Walker running for president.
Over 100 protesters from a variety of organizations including People for the American Way, Voces de la Frontera, and We Are Wisconsin gathered to share personal stories about how Governor Walker’s policies have negatively affected the lives of Wisconsinites.
Among the protesters were union workers, immigration activists and Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre Hamilton who was murdered in Red Arrow Park by a former Milwaukee police officer in April 2014.
“Scott Walker has his own agenda. Scott Walker has taken money from the taxpayers in Milwaukee. He’s taken money from our schools,” Hamilton said.
After Walker’s announcement, he will be traveling across the country, campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.