Milwaukee Biz Blog: Scott Walker’s letter to President-elect Trump

Details governor's concerns over federal overreach

Editor’s note: Gov. Scott Walker today sent a letter to President-elect Donald J. Trump outlining actions he believes the incoming presidential administration should take immediately upon taking office. Following is the entire text of that letter.

December 20, 2016

President-elect Donald J. Trump
Trump Tower
725 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Dear President-elect Trump,

Congratulations on your recent election to serve as the 45th president of the United States of America. We welcome the historic opportunity to pursue change that aligns with our founders’ original vision for vigorous, innovative states by partnering with your administration.

The question is not what functions the federal government should give back to the states, but what functions should the federal government have in the first place. The federal government was originally crated to be a small, central government of limited powers, with everything else left to the states. Through years of federal overreach, this model has been turned on its head, and now is the time to right the ship. Power flows from the people to the government, not the other way around.

Since we took office, Wisconsin has experienced economic revival, fiscal order, and government reform. More people than ever are working in our state and Wisconsin’s unemployment rate of 4.1 percent is well below the national rate. In addition, Wisconsin’s state finances are stable, with every fiscal year ending in a surplus and a rainy day fund that is 165 times larger than when our administration took office in 2010.

However, too often states have become mere administrative provinces of an all-powerful federal government in Washington, which restrains growth and prosperity by forcing states to accept policies and priorities that do not meet the needs of taxpayers, and do not reflect local needs, conditions, or values.

We believe that states can effectively develop and deliver initiatives that align with your goal to make America great again, and we welcome your commitment to well-development initiatives such as block grants for Medicaid, education and transportation. In Wisconsin, we are poised, with your help, to aggressively expand opportunities for those seeking family supporting jobs, eliminate barriers to gainful employment, trim regulatory costs to aid in those efforts, and ensure those receiving taxpayer-funded entitlements are work ready.

Our administration has always focused on making state government efficient, effective, and responsive to the taxpayer. We continue to lower the tax burden on our residents to ensure more Wisconsin families can live their piece of the American Dream. As part of those add costs to taxpayers, limit the flexibility of effective governance, or impede private sector growth with the intent to ask your administration for relief and the restoration of our rightful freedoms and responsibilities.

Our state would suggest the following overarching principles that we believe will foster further cooperation and successful implementation of government programs:

  • Federal Agency Coordination with State Agencies: States have a constitutional role in administering laws, solving problems, and serving its citizens. We would suggest that an executive order be issued directing all federal agencies to consult and coordinate federal activities with their state counterparts and to truly delegate oversight of functions and activities without mandates or strings that the federal government has a history of attaching to such delegation. Federal agencies should further inform states of any work it is conducting within a state boundary; confer with the states before starting master planning, policy, regulatory changes or other actions; defer to state permit decisions for delegated programs; and provide timely review and feedback of any state implementation plan of a delegated program.
  • Defined Timelines for Federal Permit Decisions: Federal agencies should have established timelines to issue a permit decision on areas of federal oversight. Many states have such timelines for their agencies.

We want your help as soon as possible on the following specific measures where our state has voiced to the previous administration our desire for more flexibility in implementing programs that will help the citizens of Wisconsin:

  • Drug screening, testing, and treatment of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents: Wisconsin aims to ensure barriers to employment related to substance abuse are addressed as part of our robust SNAP education and Food Share Employment Training (FSET) program. In 2015, we announced a policy that would require drug screening and, where appropriate, testing and treatment, for Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents who meet their work requirements by participating in FSET. We have been forced to delay our implementation and are optimistic your administration will gives states like Wisconsin the flexibility to provide the accountability the taxpayers demand.
  • Drug Testing for FoodShare Applicants: Foodshare was created to help stop hunger and provide good nutrition to those in need. In 2015, we announced a policy that would require drug testing for some applicants seeking food stamps. We have been forced to delay our implementation and are optimistic your administration will gives states like Wisconsin the flexibility to provide the accountability the taxpayers demand.
  • Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents Requirements for Medicaid: Our state has requested a 1115 waiver to apply new policies for childless adults at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Our state would like to encourage healthier lifestyles through differential premiums for childless adults who purposefully increase their health risks while receiving benefits.
  • Refugee Resettlement Process for Refugees from Countries with Terrorist Ties: Our state has consistently voiced concern about the vetting and relocation of refugees from such countries. We would like our state to have a broader role in determining how many refugees and from which countries until we are comfortable with the vetting process that is being utilized to screen these individuals.
  • State Management of the Gray Wolf Population: The recovery of gray wolves in Wisconsin is a success story. However, the population needs to be managed appropriately. Our state had been successfully managing the population until a federal court removed that authority to do so. We would ask that Wisconsin again be allowed to manage this species.
  • Repeal of the Conversion of Title 32 Dual-Status Technicians to Title 5 Civilians: The conversion of military technicians to federal civilian employees jeopardizes a state’s ability to respond to a state emergency. States have no authority to deploy these employees in state emergencies. The state were not consulted about this change in policy.
  • Revising the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards: Clean air is important to Wisconsin citizens. We need a framework that protects air quality without cumbersome regulations that hurt Wisconsin citizens and businesses. Science has shown that Wisconsin’s designation of nonattainment in certain counties along Lake Michigan is due to emissions occurring outside of the state. A better framework needs to be developed that recognizes sound science and lifts the regulatory burden for Wisconsin’s citizens. Wisconsin is currently engaged in a lawsuit on this issue.
  • Canadian Dairy Trade Protectionism: Our state’s dairy producers have been disadvantaged by Canada’s recent change in their pricing policy. We believe the policy was designed to discourage U.S. exports of ultrafiltered milk and incentivizes Canadians to purchase Canadian milk, which is a possible violation of World Trade obligations. Our Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has been very vocal about this unfair trade practice.
  • State Management of Federal Timber: Wisconsin has successfully implemented the recent Good Neighbor Authority legislation that allowed state assistance win the management of federal timberland. We would like the federal government to continue to work with Wisconsin to enhance and streamline the authority so that the federal timberland in Wisconsin will be managed appropriately for the benefit of the resource, wildlife, and our state’s economy.

We believe that the items listed above deserve your immediate attention but that this should only be the beginning of our efforts to return authority closer to the people. As you are aware, there has been a gradual erosion of state power over the governance of its programs and service. This has led to a loss of the proper balance between federal and state power. We look forward to partnering with you to change the course of the federal and state relationship.

Thank you for your time and consideration of these requests.

Sincerely,

Scott Walker
Governor

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