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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JOHN E. SUNUNU

What saved states: reform or punting?

When and if Governor Scott Walker beats the Wisconsin recall initiative two weeks from today, you may have to search hard if you want to read about it in the newspaper. Just a year ago, the left-of-center media were egging big labor on, as national coverage of Walker’s budget reforms highlighted a supposed “backlash” by “angry voters” — which is to say, the series of union-backed protests. But for now, that narrative has been spoiled by recent polls showing the governor consistently on top. His victory may leave reporters confused, but the budget and political turnaround should be a model for fellow governors.

Eighteen months ago, many states were facing circumstances remarkably similar to those in Wisconsin. Some, including New Jersey, Indiana, and Ohio followed Wisconsin’s lead and chose the tough medicine of budget, labor, and pension reforms to build long-term stability and economic competitiveness. Others, like California and Illinois, chose to punt. They opted instead for a few more taxes, a promise to slow spending, and a hope that the good times would quickly return.

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