Wisconsin and New Jersey Head in Opposite Directions
The political fortunes of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are uniquely similar. Both elected to traditionally blue states in 2009 and 2010, Christie and Walker rose to national stardom by passing landmark reforms in 2011 that required public sector employees to contribute to their pension and healthcare.
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Gov. Christie’s pension reforms passed a Democratic controlled legislature and were hailed as a model for other states. Christie’s star was born as the brash former prosecutor took on the public sector unions, grabbed hold of the third rail in American politics, and won.
Gov. Scott Walker of course passed collective bargaining reforms in early 2011 amidst massive labor protests and recall threats. What became known as Act 10 passed after a month long standoff with Democratic state senators in Illinois. The recall threats turned into a reality – but the reforms worked to help solve a $3.6 billion budget hole and voters rewarded Walker with a 7 point win in the 2012 recall election.
Despite different styles, the two reform-minded governors were jettisoned on to the national stage and the fires of presidential speculation were sparked.
But nearly three years after the landmark reforms were put in place, Wisconsin and New Jersey appear headed in opposite directions.