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Friday, July 1, 2011

The Hypocrisy of Scott Walker

In 2009, Scott Walker began laying the groundwork for his run for governor.

At the time, the Doyle budget was being developed.

Here is what Walker's web site had to say about it. Contrast this with HIS budget. He has done, in some cases, EXACTLY what he used against Doyle... and now has lauded - indeed, attempted to claim as his own! - some of the provisions of that budget which, at the time, he apparently denigrated.

This information comes from www.scottwalker.org.

Here's the URL, for the skeptics among us:

http://www.scottwalker.org/headlines/2009/06/how-state-budget-plan-would-affect-you


Note that my original posting included, "In His Own Words". I blame it on lack of sleep coupled with age-induced cognitive deficiencies ;-). I removed that when a kind reader pointed out my error. It was NOT written by Walker himself - but its presence on his web site, to me, indicates de facto approval and espousement of the article.


=============================

Date: Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wisconsin State Journal

By Jason Stein and Mark Pitsch

If you smoke, if you send your children to public school or if you and your spouse together earn more than $300,000 a year, the $62.2 billion state budget to be taken up today by the Democratic-led Assembly will affect you.

To close a $6.6 billion budget shortfall, legislators propose to use billions in federal stimulus money, cut spending by $905 million and raise $2.11 billion in taxes over the next two years.

That could mean an additional 75 cents more per pack of cigarettes, layoffs at your local school, higher income taxes for the wealthy and possibly higher prices at the pump.

Democrats say they’re just trying to spread the pain around amid a terrible economic climate — but they’re mindful that Republicans will use whatever they do as ammunition in next year’s elections.

All that is making it hard to find the 50 votes Democrats need to pass the budget in the 99-member body. They spent much of this week behind closed doors hashing out controversial proposals affecting businesses and taxpayers.

Here are highlights. My comments are in boldface.






YOUR POCKETBOOK

There are no general sales or income tax increases in the proposed budget. But rich people and many small-business owners would face higher income taxes while smokers and phone users will get tapped again. Cuts to schools and local government aid payments could also lead to higher local taxes, while a new Regional Transit Authority could levy an additional 0.5 percent sales tax in Dane County.

The vast majority of citizens favor increasing the income tax on "rich people". Even some of the "rich people".

A nationwide poll shows that 67% of people overall support an increase in taxes on tobacco products. Even smokers. Yes, really.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-report-1-cigarette-tax-increase-would-raise-844-million-for-wisconsin-and-cut-youth-smoking-84014907.html

Walker, in fact, vetoed a proposal to DECREASE the tax on smokeless tobacco.

http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/Walker_to_veto_tax_change_on_tobacco_124502469.html

Oil companies and multi-state corporations are in line for tax increases, which could get passed along to consumers or affect jobs. New auto insurance requirements could lead to rate increases.

Oil companies were called to task in a recent hearing before Congress. They admitted that oil prices are high in large part due to speculation in the market.

http://priuschat.com/forums/environmental-discussion/93929-oil-execs-testify-congress-they-reveal-some-interesting-facts.html

As for insurance companies - well, I haven't noticed that rates are goin' down, have you? Though yes, there are some inexpensive options out there now - but I guarantee you that the limitations on liability will be of small comfort if you or your family are involved in an accident - on either side (as the injured or the injurer).






EDUCATION
School districts will be so pinched by cuts that experts say some smaller, rural districts may dissolve. Regardless, expect layoffs and program cuts in some schools. Next year, however, teachers will be in a stronger position to argue for higher pay and better benefits. And bright spots for UW-Madison include approval of several construction projects and a pot of money to keep top faculty.

Hmmm. 519 education system workers were laid off this past week in Milwaukee alone. The number for the state will be in the thousands. The effects of this on families (people first, in my world view) and on the economy is going to be devastating.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/30/lawsuit-layoffs-follow-wisconsin-budget-signing_n_888038.html

Walker is now falling all over himself to approve building and rebuilding projects at various universities and take credit for jobs thus created.

http://m.host.madison.com/mobile/article_85feab96-4e9a-11e0-9e37-001cc4c03286.html






STATE WORKERS
Layoffs and furloughs are in store for state workers, while pay raises will evaporate. But UW-Madison workers can unionize, and the domestic partners of state workers could get health insurance.

See above. Also note that in Milwaukee, Walker forced employees to take four MORE furlough days - bringing the total of unpaid days for some workers to 26. Twenty-six days, no pay.

http://m.host.madison.com/mobile/article_85feab96-4e9a-11e0-9e37-001cc4c03286.html






OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Taxes and fees

• Raises the cigarette tax by 75 cents per pack to $2.52, raising $310 million from smokers over two years.

See above.

• Raises the income tax by an additional percentage point to 7.75 percent on single taxpayers making $225,000 or more per year and married couples making $300,000 or more. That would cost those taxpayers $287 million more.

Well, 72% of people FAVOR raising taxes on folks making $250k or more per year - those who would presumably be hurt least by tax increases.

http://capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/bruce-bartlett/2292/americans-support-higher-taxes-really

• Effectively raises the capital gains tax by increasing the share the state can tax, raising $170 million a year.

Next time you're out there, ask a low-income person (Tea Partiers might be a good bet!) if s/he understands what capital gains means. I don't have a link, just a suspicion.

• Places a 75 cent per month fee on telephones, which costs users $103 million.

I'm thinking most people would barely notice this. Additionally, there is a pretty much across-the-board increase in costs for landlines. Additionally still - this is related - due to proposed changes to WiscNet we will ALL be paying MUCH more in taxes for internet services now provided by WiscNet to libraries and other public facilities. I must add another "additionally": phone companies WILL pass along cost increases if, as my own representative, Kathy Bernier, stated in a letter to me - they "upgrade" their old equipment/lines.

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r25112627-Landline-price-increases-are-coming.

http://wire.wiscnet.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Community-Comes-Together-to-Support-WiscNet.pdf



Good idea, but it is common knowledge (common enough that I won't even provide a link here) that public AND private-sector employees are now going to be paying much more for their health insurance... and it has and will impact the economy for ALL of us. I don't believe that Walker included this deduction in the budget, even as a proposal (I could be wrong; feel very free to correct me, if need be).

• Levies a tax on oil companies of $260 million.

Well, well. They are making record profits. They are paying executives obscene bonuses. They have admitted, as shown above, that speculation is the chief cause of currently high oil prices.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/04/dems-plan-oil-subsidy-vote_n_857685.html

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/executive-pay.html (this includes more than oil companies, BTW, but I will leave it to you to sort it out and in the meanwhile, imagine what would happen to prices of consumer goods if these salaries and bonuses were reduced!)

• Increases or creates several complex taxes on corporations for a total of more than $180 million.

Goodness forbid that corporations should have to tighten their belts along with the rest of us. See the link above to an article about executive pay. Remember that ALL of us are paying more because some corporations do NOT pay taxes - who do you think has to make up the difference? They use and rely on public services, too... they take jobs out of the country... they hide money in offshore accounts... hmmm... no problems there, right?

Trickle. Down. Does. Not. Work. 'nuf said. If you think it does, you, in my opinion, are COMPLETELY out of touch with reality.

• Increases a tax on hospitals and adds a tax on outpatient surgery centers to raise $187.6 million in state taxes and draws down even more federal dollars to return to the health centers and help balance the budget.

This may seem odd, but I'm going to direct you to a site that has a lot of articles that I don't seem to be able to access. It seems, though, that www.outpatientsurgery.net is quite a fan of increasing profits for outpatient surgery centers. We're ALREADY paying for these, as many of them are getting a large proportion of their income from Medicare/Medicaid dollars... that they can be profitable - well, you have your opinion on that, and I have mine, and personally, I find it despicable.

http://www.outpatientsurgery.net/issues/2004/04/can-surgery-centers-profit-anesthesia






Schools and local governments

• Cuts state payments to schools by nearly $300 million over two years.

Remember this? Walker cut $900 million.

http://www.theroot.com/buzz/wisconsin-gov-scott-walkers-budget-cut-900-million-education

• Tightens limits on how much more money schools can raise in property taxes and state aid, but state aid cuts could mean bigger property tax increases overall.

Wannabe Governor Walker seems to be complaining about tightening limits on increases in property taxes - but remember, he just signed a budget prohibiting increases in same.

http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20110628/APC0101/306290012/Property-tax-increase-freeze-remains-bill?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Cimg%7CFRONTPAGE

• Ends in July 2010 an effective cap of 3.8 percent on increases in teachers’ pay and benefits.

I'm going to focus on the big picture here: public workers sacrifice just like everyone else.

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/18/club-growth/group-says-wisconsin-state-workers-havent-had-sacr/

Most have had absolutely no pay increases for years. They've had to take furlough days - no pay. Their cost of living has gone up just like everyone else's.

If you are a private-sector employee, I sincerely doubt that you'd have a problem with taking a job where you could have a decent pension/benefit package. I sincerely doubt that most of you would turn down a public-sector job with a living salary, benefits, cost-of-living adjustments at the very least. I would bet that you desire these for your children. While you had those, if you did, all of us were paying for them in some form or another.

I'm sorry that most of you (us!) in the United States have had to give up so much... but I am sad that it has led to such envy of/attitude toward, folks who really are not much better off than you: "I don't have (whatever), so why should YOU?"

• Cuts state payments to local governments by $30 million.

Well, Governor, you managed to more than triple that, to $96 million. Most counties and municipalities agree that the only "tools" they got were not "tools" at all - but merely hardware (screws). You've pushed the responsibility for layoffs and cutbacks to the local level - politically perhaps a good move for you, but anyone with half a brain will figure it out.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_5abf01a0-444b-11e0-9c33-001cc4c03286.html

University of Wisconsin System and UW-Madison

• Allows faculty and staff to unionize.

They did - or at least they attempted to - but not 'til Governor Walker took office. Need I also remind you that Governor Walker still supports unions for public safety workers -many, many of whom are out there with the protesters - and I applaud that.
• Provides health insurance benefits to domestic partners of university and other state employees at a projected cost of up to $6.7 million annually.

Should I even "go there" on this subject? Heck, let them go on Medicaid/Badger care. Oh, wait, that's not going to work for 'em; the cuts to those programs won't allow it. Okay, let 'em show up in the ER when they're so sick they can't function. Oh, wait, we ALL end up paying for THAT. Okay, let them get their own insurance through their employers. Well, WHO DO YOU THINK PAYS FOR THAT? YOU DO! I DO! Companies can and do raise prices to cover health insurance for their employees.

A big of an aside? Don't forget, either, that some Walmart stores give some workers instructions for applying for Medicaid along with their new-employee handouts... (I can't find a link to support this, but I assure you I've seen it). Are we going to do the same for domestic partners of state employees? Yeah, I'm off on a tangent; that's why I didn't even want to get started...

• Provides $113 million for tuition grants for System students, reducing grants by about $300 per student this fall from Gov. Doyle’s proposal.

Somebody 'splain this to me. I think what he was saying was that reducing student aid was a bad thing. Well, then, he did a bad thing.

http://chippewavalleypost.com/?p=3719

• Borrows $978 million for construction projects, including a new nursing school building at UW-Madison.

Check that off your list, Governor Walker.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/on_campus/article_37d7b658-4e89-11e0-b0a1-001cc4c03286.html

(Amusing note: when I Googled this, one of the results included "Wisconsin Manure Management". Rather fitting.)


• Provides $15 million to retain talented faculty.

So let's destroy our world-class public university - why not? Despite the fact that it brings enormous revenue to our state, on many levels. It's part of our heritage - something all Wisconsinites can be proud of. The exodus has begun...

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/05/31/public_universities_hit_with_economic
_and_political_uncertainty_face_loss_of_top_faculty






Health care and welfare

• Expands BadgerCare Plus eligibility to childless adults.

I'm not going to even get started on health care.

• Slows the rate at which Family Care is expanded

The Walker budget freezes enrollment in Family Care. While he complained about slowing the rate of expansion, it seems that it is perfectly okay to stop it altogether.

http://stopwalkersbudget.org/

• Cuts $11.8 million in tobacco control grants.

Walker cut it by an additional 10%.

http://www.waatpn.org/march11_budget.html

• Eliminates two-year time limits on welfare job categories.

This did go through, so welfare recipients can work at a nonprofit for more than two years. Politically expedient - since there are so few private-sector jobs available. Saves face.






Domestic partner registry

• Confers some rights and responsibilities upon registered gay couples in a program to be administered by counties.

http://familyscholars.org/2011/05/24/wisconsin-governor-scott-walker-refuses-to-defend-lgbt-rights-law/

 

Regional Transit Authority

• Allows Dane County to create an RTA that would operate a local transportation system and impose 0.5 percent sales tax.

Walker's budget not only cuts local transit, but ELIMINATES RTA's. This falls solidly in line with ALEC's fight against ANYTHING that decreases our reliance on oil.

http://www.wigderson.com/index.php/2011/06/26/governor-scott-walkers-veto-message/



State workers

• Requires 16 furlough days, at a savings of $192.2 million.

Walker eliminated the furlough days. Remember, though, that he imposed even more furlough days for Milwaukee workers. In some cases, up to 26 unpaid days off.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/101995348.html

• Rescinds 2 percent pay raises scheduled for non-union employees in June, saving $144.8 million.

But state workers didn't have to tighten their belts like the rest of us, right? Yeah, right.


• Calls for up to 1,000 layoffs.

THOUSANDS more are resulting from this budget - at a time when the economy is actually on the upswing. See link above for Milwaukee's 500+ layoffs already. To my knowledge, there is no final tally as yet.

• Calls for up to 400 additional layoffs if union employees reject a proposal to give up a 2 percent pay raise.

Remember February? Remember when Walker threatened not 1000, not 1400, but 12,000 layoffs if his Budget Repair Bill did not pass, saying it was going to be necessary? Remember that the bill did NOT pass at that time, tied up in the courts? Apparently these layoff threats were just a bluff - because they did not happen.

Let me refresh your memory...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/25/AR2011022507046.html






Auto insurance

• Increases over three years the minimum coverage for injuries to one person in an accident to $100,000, and mandates coverage of $300,000 overall for all injured parties in a crash. It also requires $25,000 in property damage protection.

Yes, this did get rescinded... I'll largely reserve judgement, but see my comments above.






OTHER CONTROVERSIAL ITEMS
Debt payments

• Authorizes $3.3 billion in new borrowing for building projects, roads and other uses.

Walker is proposing "only" $1.8 billion to fund "pet projects"

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/asm95/news/Budget2pagerLAXspecific61311.pdf

• Borrowing includes $138 million for certain projects, including:

• $47.3 million for a UW-Madison nursing building.

• $44.5 million for a UW-Eau Claire education building.

Done, and Governor Walker has, as noted above, expressed great pride in "his" "accomplishment".

• $500,000 for the Aldo Leopold Nature Center climate change project.

This was done. It also created jobs - just as Walker is promoting as a benefit of some of HIS pet projects.

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2009/related/acts/28

• $500,000 for the Oskhosh Opera House.

Done. And hmmm... created jobs, again - see previous comment.

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2009/related/acts/28






Prisoners and sex offenders

• Gives Department of Corrections authority to release prisoners early.

• Gives DOC authority to lift real-time electronic monitoring tracking of some sex offenders.

• Eliminates probation for some misdemeanor offenders.

Make no mistake about it: ALL of the pending truth-in-sentencing laws are part of a much larger agenda to privatize prisons, courtesy of ALEC, courtesy of its for-profit corporate prison members who write this legislation. The legislation is then marketed - there is no other word to describe it - to our Republican state legislators by ALEC, and they bring it home to introduce it and try to sell it to US. This document shows that Walker has been trying to privatize our prisons since at least 1999:

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/crime_and_courts/blog/article_44c6e570-1903-11e0-af8e-001cc4c03286.html






Immigrants

• Allows illegal immigrants to apply for state cards that would let them drive legally but which cannot serve as identification.

• Allows some illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition at UW-System schools.

I think that I shall save this section for another day. I've been working on this for seven hours straight on no sleep (just cannot sleep when it's hot!) and I want to get it out there for all to see, as soon as possible.

Recall Walker.

View the original story
here.

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