When it comes to the “race to the bottom” for US workers, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is definitely leading the way. If you had any doubts about that, just ask members of his personal security team – as well as Wisconsin taxpayers who will ultimately get stuck with the bill.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in April, Walker’s political organization agreed to pay travel costs for the candidate’s security during his “Our American Revival” tour. These expenses covered lodging, airline tickets, car rentals and incidental expenses. However, since the security team was drawn from the Wisconsin State Patrol, taxpayers were still responsible for paying their salaries. Furthermore, public funds were still used to pay for Walker’s “official” trips. Significantly, costs of providing security for Walker, his family and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch in 2014 came to a whopping $2.4 million – over three times what they were during the first year of his Democratic predecessor’s term. Since Walker took over the Wisconsin governor’s mansion, Walker’s security has cost the state over $8 million. In contrast, Governor Doyle’s security bill for the last two years of his term was just over $1.2 million.
So much for fiscal restraint.
Walker continued to be generous with the taxpayer’s money. Earlier this year, after the GOP-controlled Wisconsin legislature refused to grant a 17% pay raise for the state police, Walker gave a $4 an hour raise to those state troopers making up his personal security detail – an increase of under 9%. That raise came just in time for him to hit the campaign trail. The flip side of the deal: no more overtime pay. That so-called “pay raise” was Walker’s way to cut costs on the backs of state troopers. According to the report in the Milwaukee Journal, members of the security detail regularly work 60-80 hours a week. In 2014, they worked a combined total of 8,200 unpaid hours. Somehow, a $4 an hour raise was supposed to make up for that.
Now, the US Department of Labor has stepped in, informing the State of Wisconsin that it must pay overtime for nine officers of the security detail – retroactive to May 2013. That figure could exceed $1 million dollars – with the bill going to the taxpayers of the Badger State. Walker thus decided to rescind the pay raise he gave the officers to make up for the fact he now has to pay overtime.
It won’t end there. While the number of officers may be reduced in order to cut costs (extra troopers may be assigned as needed for short trips), those overtime hours are going to add up as Walker increasingly travels outside of the state on extended campaign jaunts. And the same taxpayers that Walker has been hell-bound and determined to screw over at every turn will have to cough up.
Watch our commentary on how Scott Walker is purely a Koch brothers candidate: