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The Damage Scott Walker Has Done to Wisconsin

The case for recalling the governor is clear

May. 30, 2012
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Gov. Scott Walker and his allies in the conservative movement and at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel claim that this recall is only about one issue: Walker's attack on the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

But Walker's attack on the unionized middle class was just the catalyst for the recall movement, not the sole reason for it.

Since then, Walker and his allies in the state Legislature have given Wisconsin voters a wide range of reasons to recall him and four Republican senators. Here are a few of the ways in which many people feel Walker has damaged Wisconsin.

Walker has the worst job-creation record in the country:
Walker's strategy of giving to the rich and squeezing everyone else isn't working. Walker has the worst job-creation record in the country. According to verified, official data, the state has lost 33,000 jobs in the past year. And the perks Walker showered on corporations and the wealthy, including $2.3 billion in tax breaks over the next decade, are not trickling down to the average Wisconsin resident.

For example, Republicans slipped a last-minute tax break for manufacturers into the state budget, which Walker signed. The tax break will cost the state $360 million in revenue over the next four years alone, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, and keep growing. Even worse? The tax break isn't tied to any sort of accountability measures. The corporations just get a big windfall without having to produce even one new job.

Walker tries to fool the public about his terrible job-creation record: Walker was voted into office in 2010 because he promised to create 250,000 new private-sector jobs in his first term. The results are in for his first year in office and they show that Walker's Wisconsin is headed in the opposite direction. So what did Walker do? He rushed out unverified data showing that the state actually added jobs in 2011. Of course, he didn't provide any details about which industries added jobs or where these alleged jobs are located. Walker's data won't be verified by the federal government until June 28, three weeks after his recall election.

Equal pay law repealed because money isn't important to women:
One of the most insulting acts Walker and his medieval-times-thinking Republicans did was to repeal the state's Equal Pay Law, because, as state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) so helpfully put it, “Money is more important for men.” Thanks to Walker and Grothman, women who are suffering from wage abuse in the workplace now have fewer avenues to get justice.

The loss of $810 million in federal investment weakens Milwaukee's economy: Walker made huge headlines when he rejected $810 million in federal money for high-speed rail and upgrades to the Hiawatha Amtrak line between Milwaukee and Chicago—a political move meant to repay his road-building donors for years of support.

Walker's rejection damaged train manufacturer Talgo's Milwaukee operations and will cause the company to leave the city. Sadly, Talgo is located in one of the city's hard-hit neighborhoods—an area that Walker now claims he wants to build up with loans and tax credits.

Walker's shortsighted rejection came back to haunt him when he had to go begging to the same federal officials he insulted because he still wanted the Hiawatha money. Not surprisingly, Walker's pleas were spurned. The state is now on the hook for more than $200 million for the local line's upgrades.

Walker is lying about his budget surplus:
The Walker administration sent a letter to the federal government verifying that the state would have a budget deficit in 2013, when Walker's first biennial budget expires. Why? Walker had to claim a deficit so that he could go ahead with his plans to kick people off of BadgerCare.

But, as if by magic, in the midst of the recall campaign, Walker's appointed administration secretary found that the state now has a budget surplus. Part of that surplus is due to pushing off payments, but Walker is hoping that nobody reads the fine print.

So will the budget “surplus” allow Walker to restore funding to BadgerCare? He can't have it both ways.

Walker makes unemployed workers wait:
Walker is failing at creating jobs and he's failing the unemployed. He and the state Legislature are now requiring newly unemployed workers to wait a week before receiving their first check. In this way, the state will save $41 million—but at the expense of those who have just lost their jobs and need support the most.

Walker pushed a mining bill written by a mining company: Since Walker lacked positive job numbers, he went all in on a mining bill that would have exempted iron mining companies from environmental regulations. Wonder how that happened? That's a good question, since the bill didn't have any legislators' names attached to it when it was introduced. Finally, in this week's New York Times, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau let it slip that the bill was written by the mining company itself. Even worse, legislators trampled all over the international treaty rights of the area's American-Indian tribe. Fortunately, Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) stood up to the radicals in his party and refused to support the bill, killing its chances in the state Senate.

Walker jeopardizes the health care of more than a million Wisconsinites:
The state's popular and cost-effective BadgerCare program was established by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and expanded through the years. Now, BadgerCare and Medicaid programs cover 1.2 million Wisconsinites—about a fifth of the population—who are grateful for access to affordable health care.

But Walker and the Republicans are trying to decimate BadgerCare so that more people will be forced to buy unaffordable insurance policies on the open market or simply go without insurance and push the costs onto everyone else.

Their first step was to underfund Medicaid programs by about $600 million. The next step was to grant Walker's uber-conservative Secretary of Health Services Dennis Smith unprecedented power to make cuts to these programs without public input.

Thankfully, the Obama administration has not allowed Walker and Smith to get what they want, which is to force 65,000 individuals (including 29,000 children) off of BadgerCare. Instead, Walker's plan will “only” force 17,000 adults off of the program because it would be unaffordable.

The next step? Walker and Smith want to go even further and jack up the cost of the program while cutting services. Their plans would affect an estimated 300,000 low-income people.

Walker couldn't care less about public schools:
Walker made historic cuts to public education. In total, Walker cut $834 million from K-12 public schools, then capped property taxes so local districts will find it nearly impossible to raise more funds. The Milwaukee Public Schools lost $166 million in funding over two years, compared to prior law.

As a result of Walker's attack on public schools, more than 3,400 education workers have lost their jobs statewide, including 1,900 teachers. The kids feeling the brunt of Walker's cuts are the ones from low-income families, the very kids who rely on quality public schools to give them a chance to enter the middle class as adults. In addition, classroom sizes are increasing at the same time teachers' aides are getting pink slips, schools are dropping arts and science courses, and potential teachers simply don't want to go into the field because there is no job security and they are being demonized by the Republican Party and its supporters.

It surprised no one that Walker couldn't find money for public schools but was able to find $40 million from the state and MPS to expand the experimental voucher school program and allow middle-class families to use a taxpayer-funded voucher to send their kids to a private school. Walker also exempted voucher schools from making their test scores public, so taxpayers have no idea if these voucher schools are actually educating our children.

Walker gutted technical college funding:
Although Walker has paid lip service to the need to train the next generation of Wisconsin's skilled workers, he cut 30% of the state funding for the Wisconsin Technical College System, about $36 million per year. He also implemented a property tax cap, preventing our tech schools from raising more revenue. As a result, students and their families will have to pay more in the coming years for their tuition.

Walker slashed university funding:
Walker couldn't be bothered to finish his undergraduate degree at Marquette University, so it's no surprise that he has no respect for Wisconsin's vital university system. First he attempted to spin off UW-Madison from the rest of the system, which would have allowed the school to jack up tuition to make up for the lack of state investment.

Fortunately for UW-Madison students, that didn't happen.

Unfortunately, Walker and his Republican allies cut $250 million from the University of Wisconsin System without adding more state aid for students. That has forced four-year campuses to raise tuition 5.5%. When Walker realized he had to cut more programs to balance his budget, he cut an additional $46 million from the UW, threatening the future of Wisconsin's highly regarded state universities and the thousands of businesses that rely on UW alumni to join the workforce.

The concealed carry law goes too far:
While it was no surprise that Walker and the Republicans would pass a concealed carry law when they came into power, the law that they did pass is terribly lenient and fails to provide any meaningful penalties for those who carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Then, when Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen attempted to implement a four-hour training requirement for permit holders, Walker and the National Rifle Association (NRA) intervened and got the Republicans to delete the length of time for training courses. Even weirder? Republican legislative leader Bill Kramer of Waukesha carries a concealed weapon when he's on the Assembly floor.

Walker lets polluters off the hook and risks the public's health:
To make Wisconsin more business-friendly, Walker is now allowing polluters to call the shots at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In a highly disturbing case, Herr Environmental was found to have spread high levels of human waste on fields, threatening the wells in the area. But Walker's political appointees at the DNR—and state Rep. Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc, whose wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, is facing a recall on June 5—intervened on Herr's behalf. As a result, the politicos at the top overruled the DNR's experts and the company only faces a slap on the wrist, instead of prosecution.


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