Wisconsin governor and possible presidential candidate Scott Walker visited the Twin Cities Thursday, where he played down unfavorable comparisons between his state's economy and Minnesota's.
Walker has met with Minnesota lawmakers including Republican House leader Kurt Daudt, and has planned meetings with the Minnesota Business Partnership and a speaking engagement at the Freedom Club's spring dinner, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
But his visit has drawn comparisons between his approach in Wisconsin since the financial crisis – during which time $2 billion of tax cuts have been signed off since 2011, according to Bloomberg – and the approach of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in Minnesota, who increased taxes on the state's wealthiest earners.
Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak welcomed Walker to Minnesota by writing in the Star Tribune that only Dayton can say he has led his state to a successful recovery, pointing out the $1.9 billion state budget surplus in Minnesota compared to the $2 billion deficit being projected across the border.
But Walker rejected the notion that Wisconsin is struggling relative to Minnesota, and argued Republicans have made a difference in Minnesota too.
"It's a comparison. For many years, when Gov. [Tim] Pawlenty was in office, the state was doing quite well," Walker said, according to FOX 9. "You've had the advantage of having, other than a two-year period, Republicans in charge of at least one part of government for at least some time."
He also said Wisconsin's unemployment rate has decreased from 9.2 percent to 4.6 percent under his watch.
One subject that did not come up during Walker's private meetings with Minnesota's lawmakers, according to WCCO's Patrick Kessler, was a presidential run, despite the Journal Sentinel saying it is "almost certain" he will seek the Republican ticket in next year's election.