Below is the text of my Crossroads piece today (and a link) on how Walker will govern:
TUESDAY'S ROUT | JAMES ROWEN
Can we live with the cuts?
A freshly conservative electorate rattled by unemployment, unnerved by President Barack Obama and energized by right-wing talkers combined to replace numerous Democrats with Republicans and tea partiers on election night.
The national wave crested and broke in Wisconsin, where Democrats had power in Madison but had done little to maintain it, so in swept the GOP in historic fashion.
It's fair to say that the parties are realigned more ideologically than ever - one is conservative and one is liberal - and this time, GOP conservatives are ascendant in Madison and free to make changes.
But their ideology and promises pose fundamental and related real-world hurdles; how they manage them will determine whether they are one-hit wonders.
The dilemmas faced by Governor-elect Scott Walker and his party are:
• Can you really govern a state and eliminate a near-$3 billion deficit with tea party rhetoric and Grover Norquist's playbook?
• Can you cut services when everyone still wants the basics, and when one person's discretionary program is someone else's vital need?
• Does good state governance off-load tax and service issues to the locals?
For example, on the spending side: should Madison cut aid to local school systems? It would help balance state fiscal ledgers, but without a better-educated workforce - and no one says we're excelling there - Wisconsin business cannot be competitive, the economy cannot grow and the state cannot attract or retain young families.
Cuts to state school aids might also lead to local school property tax increases. The new Legislature and governor should not make themselves look good at the expense of children's schooling or property tax collections.
Or how about cuts to higher education, since the University of Wisconsin System and Madison campus are big-ticket items long targeted by some GOP legislators?
Again - cuts to higher education might reduce the deficit, but produce counterproductive consequences. The UW system is one of the great economic engines in the state: whack spending there and good faculty and students go elsewhere, and the brain drain's economic toll continues.
Is the state, under coordinated conservative control, going to downsize the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and cut back on road building - and all its attendant costs?
The state already is on the hook for $3.7 billion in unbudgeted freeway work in southeastern Wisconsin alone, and another $1 billion in interstate work was proposed just this year between Wisconsin Dells and the Illinois state line.
All of which Walker has endorsed; conservatives, while talking a good game about big government and spending restraint, have always made exceptions to get a new road or bridge in their districts.
How about slashing state revenue sharing for police, fire protection, sanitation and other core public services?
For this new Republican majority, certainly tempting, given the benefits that shared revenue brings to the bigger cities (read: Democratic). But the benefits of equalized access to public services crosses local borders. Shared revenue must continue to be seen as non-partisan, good government and smart economics.
And, again, it's wrong to push problems downhill from the state Capitol to mayors, common councils, school systems and town and village boards.
So will Walker really cut state payrolls, even though everyone wants the basics, and labeling agencies or services as unnecessary gets awfully situational and subjective when you get right down to it?
Furthermore, there is a coupling in service provided by government and goals important to conservatives and liberals alike.
Social programs reduce crime. Clean neighborhoods raise property values. Education leads to employment and growth. Environmentalism fuels tourism, spurs employment, promotes business recruiting, etc.
Pull bricks out of the arch and the whole thing crumbles.
Walker and his legislative allies should rule as realists, not tea party banner wavers. They probably will cut the budget and payrolls incrementally and bargain tough concessions - furlough days and greater employee contributions to pensions and health plans.
But Republicans made their problems more complicated by pledging during the campaign to institute broad tax cuts.
Again, incrementalism is a path to solvency - and they will be praying for the Obama recovery to stimulate tax revenues to help erase the deficit.
And whether it's good governance or not, Republicans will push through their long-stalled policy agenda - stopped or slowed only by judges.
This includes instituting capital punishment, mandating voter ID, killing same-day voter registration and restricting embryonic stem cell research and birth control availability - mollifying some conservatives who may be unhappy with the pace of program and tax cuts.
Conservatives have waited a long time to gain a free hand in Madison, and exercise it they will.
Little bipartisanship will be sought or used if offered, textbook good governance not withstanding.
That's how the game is played - and why overreaching is always in the wings.
James Rowen is a Milwaukee consultant and writer. His blog: thepoliticalenvironmentblogspot.com