Nine Reasons to Reclaim Wisconsin For the People
Over and over again in the past six months, the Republicans have lied. Why? Because truth is not on their side. Some of their lies are attempts to make the opposition look bad (like the lies about teachers making $100k a year); others are to push their agenda (like lies about the state being broke). Cynics might claim that all politicians lie, but Wisconsin Republican lies have served to obscure the damage they are doing to the state.
- Walker claims he campaigned on promises of dissolving collective bargaining. Lie.
- Repeated claims that Wisconsin is broke are lies.
- Republicans said the union-stripping measures were necessary to save money, but when unions agreed to financial concessions, Walker still pushed for busting the unions.
- Walker took credit for jobs created by his predecessor, Gov. Doyle.
- Republicans erroneously claimed that Wisconsin is one of the few states in the country that do not require photographic ID. A lie.
- $7.5 million in damage to the Capitol? Nope.
- Republicans are fond of claiming that the avg. salary for a public teacher in the state of WIsconsin is $89k. Alberta Darling likes to claim that the avg. salary of a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher is $100k. Lies and more lies. The salary info for teachers is publicly available at the DPI website (though keep in mind that the total staff spreadsheet includes principals and superintendents).
- Here’s a Dan Kapanke doozy: he claims protesters damaged the windshield of his car. A lie.
- Scott Fitzgerald and others lied about voter fraud in Wisconsin.
- Republican senators claimed they knew nothing about the slimy tactic of fielding fake Democrats to force a primary for the recall elections. But they did know.
Despite winning relatively narrow victories last November, the Republicans have acted like they have a divine mandate to force through all of their preferred policies, policies which are not good for the people of the state. The current Republicans have rightfully been called anti-populist. They have not tried to lessen the power of government; instead, they have tried to consolidate their power, resorting to slimy tactics to gain more control of government.
- Despite multiple polls showing that the majority of the state backs collective bargaining, the Republicans pushed through their anti-collective bargaining measure illegally. Tommy Thompson worked with Democrats. Walker’s Republicans refuse to discuss.
- When intellectuals like Bill Cronon unearth the fact that Republicans are pushing legislation created by people outside of Wisconsin, the Republicans try to silence such information.
- Like governors in Florida, Michigan, and Ohio, Wisconsin Republicans are stretching the power of their governments to abolish rights. It's Authoritarian Republicanism, not Libertarian Republicanism.
- “Walker’s bill has already addressed . . . roadblocks with state Medicaid programs by granting himself and the joint finance committee unprecedented powers to enact legislation superseding existing laws (essentially blazing a path to lawmaking minus the legislative process).”
- Walker gives himself more power to fill state jobs that have duties to report information to the public, including the general counsel for the commission that handles labor mediation.
- Republicans are accelerating legislation, implementing major reforms that merit more thought and discussion than we're giving them. It's typical that Democratic legislators aren't given the bills until just before voting.
- The voter ID bill is about party advantage, not voter fraud.
- Walker is trying to give himself the power to choose the Veterans Affairs Secretary.
- Republicans are trying to strip power from the Secretary of State.
- Republicans claim they are giving more local control by ending collective bargaining. But neither the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators nor the League of Wisconsin Municipalities want Walker’s bogus “local control.”
- Plus, the proposed savings only cover 61% of the funding cuts.
- And it’s hard to claim that overruling local ordinances is giving local control.
The Death of Public Education:
The damage being done to public education in Wisconsin is truly frightening. Wisconsin ranks relatively high when it comes to public education in the U.S. And if we examine countries outperforming the U.S. in Education, we'll see that their approach is the exact opposite of what Wisconsin Republicans are doing. Yes, there is room for educational reform, but privatizing education, taking funds away from public schools, lifting caps on virtual schools, extending vouchers to wealthier families, cutting teacher salaries and bashing the work they do--all of these tactics are guaranteed to worsen the state of public education in Wisconsin.
- The goal is to privatize education. "Removing union strength, capping property taxes and defunding schools while upping support for charter schools, privately-supplied online education and the voucher system (all of which Walker's first three months of legislation has done) creates an environment where an untapped resource (education) can be capitalized."
- "The Republicans simply are at war on education for their corporate masters and wealthy contributors."
- School voucher groups are second biggest lobby in the state behind the WMC.
- But students in voucher programs don't perform as well as students in public schools.
- And the voucher program excludes students with disabilities.
- Walker proposed $840 million in cuts for the next two years. That's a brutal slashing of a public ed. system that has been struggling for years to make-do with the revenue caps put in place in 1993. My district has repeatedly proposed referendums that allow for an increase in property taxes so that schools can make necessary repairs, keep class size low, maintain quality extracurriculars and the arts, etc. Under Walker, districts would not be allowed to do that. Again, so much for local control.
- Republicans want to lift caps on virtual schools (take money from districts to pay for kids to take online courses).
- Republicans have proposed returning $39 million in broadband stimulus money after already returning $23 million of funds intended to help Wisconsin schools and libraries.
- Republicans propose nothing but damage to the K-12 education system and to higher education.
- Republicans have vilified teachers. Cutting teacher salaries and bashing the work they do (denigrating them as lazy, calling them parasites, claiming they're overpaid) is not good for the state of public education. Class size matters. Public education is more important than Wall Street. Teachers in the US work more and get paid less than teachers in other countries. Those who marginalize education and educators neglect the nation, the state, and local communities. We need to value educators.
The Attack on Poor and Working Families:
The Republicans have repeatedly proposed and/or implemented policies and legislation that redistributes government funds to the wealthy at the expense of the poor and working class. The Wisconsin Idea is to create "well constructed legislation aimed at benefiting the greatest number of people." The recession was not created by working class families, but they are getting hit with the bill.
- To begin with, public employees are not bankrupting the state. In fact, Wisconsin's pensions are some of the best in the country.
- Public employees are not the enemy. Unions benefit everyone, in the private and public sectors. An attack on unions is an attack on the working class.
- And yet, while Republicans are vilifying middle-class working families, corporations are getting tax breaks and not giving back. More info here and here.
- Need a primer on the damage corporations are doing to society? It’s bad.
- Police and firefighters will no longer have the ability to collectively bargain for health insurance.
- The budget bill guts valuable programs for the poor and working class:
- Walker began his term by signing away $117 million in tax breaks while also slashing tax credits that aid the poor.
- Republicans want to make it harder for low-income residents, senior citizens, a disabled persons to get legal assistance.
- They want to phase out "a program aimed at encouraging students from low-income backgrounds to begin planning for college."
- Republicans want to restrict access to the welfare-to-work program, which will result in some being "knocked off the program and others being denied access."
- Walker wants to return $20 million in federal aid so he can privatize the food stamps program, a move that has utterly failed in other states.
- Republicans are now seeking a $432 million tax cut for businesses and individuals, but they also want to cut twice that amount from education?
- Walker and Hopper proposed a massive corporate giveaway as part of the Wisconsin Jobs Act. Even Sen. Grothman called it the "most dubious giveaway [he's] seen in the legislature.” $200 million in tax credits would never have to be repaid to the state, and much of it would go to out-of-state businesses.
- In addition, the Republicans want to revise "child labor laws to end a prohibition on minors under age 18 working more than 40 hours or six days a week."
- The real-life damage for working families is pretty gruesome.
- This is a “fight for the ‘Wisconsin Idea,’ which in part called for the state’s ‘laboratory of democracy’ to create ‘well-constructed legislation aimed at benefiting the greatest number of people.’”
The Republicans claim they're all about jobs. But one of their first moves--after turning down federal stimulus money for the light rail project--was to assault the jobs of public employees, sowing seeds of dissatisfaction among private sector employees by falsely claiming that the public sector was to blame for fiscal woes of the state. Various moves by Republicans have served only to scare away employers, and several thousand jobs will be lost in coming years.
- Republicans have already scared away some companies because of environmental restrictions and other things that are making Wisconsin a worse place to do business: Invenergy back out of their investments in Wisconsin, the forestry industry stands to lose jobs, and several plants have shut down due to Walker’s policies.
- "An estimated 21,843 jobs will be lost over the next year or two as public agencies and workers are able to spend less in their communities."
- "Lack of infrastructure and high tech options are why jobs are going overseas." Republicans are destroying job-producing infrastructure projects that employ private as well as public employees.
- Indeed, Walker’s policies are misguided. Hasn’t trickle-down economics already been proven to be a sham? Remember the recession?
- There's capitalism and then there's corporatism.
- The rich don't create jobs; we create jobs.
- Walker did nothing to bring jobs to Milwaukee when he was county executive and his tactics for bringing jobs to the state are highly ineffective.
The Republican assault on environmental protections hasn't gotten quite as much press, but it's a classic case study of cronyism and the slow dismantling of progressive policies. Republicans are woefully short-sighted. Do they care at all about future generations?
- To begin with, Walker appointed unqualified and inexperienced people from the development community to head the DNR and serve in other environmental positions.
- Cathy Stepp, “a real estate developer and critic of the DNR before the appointment . . . was given a basement-dwelling rating by the Sierra Club for her environmental action while a senator. Stepp does not have a college degree in anything related to natural resource management because she does not have a college degree.”
- The new deputy secretary at the DNR is the former executive director of the Metropolitan Builders of Greater Milwaukee.
- So what damage are Walker and his cronies doing to the environment? The list is quite large.
- They want to allow more pollution of lakes.
- They are going to remove funding for shared transportation.
- And don't forget that Walker sent $810 million of federal train money and 5,500 jobs to other states.
- Destruction of wetlands was one of the first moves by Walker.
- Republican made drinking water in Wisconsin more dangerous.
- Walker wanted to get rid of recycling programs, too.
- Republicans back unnecessary exemptions from environmentally-sound mining practices. Harsdorf led this one.
- Republicans want to privatize state power plants with no-bid contracts.
- They also want to deregulate sewage:
- And they want to allow animal cruelty in scientific research.
Republicans want to make it harder for people to get access to health care. They are looking to increase the bureaucracy and to make major cuts to Wisconsin's Medicaid programs.
- "Says Jon Peacock of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, ‘The details aren't in the budget bill.’ Peacock, who also heads the Wisconsin Budget Project, says early indications are that the governor would cut $500 million from Medicaid, a means-tested health-care program for low-income individuals and families; $111 million from Family Care, which helps the elderly, disabled and people at risk of being institutionalized; and $48 million from county-run income maintenance programs, which fund food stamps and other assistance programs."
- Republicans are pushing for the elimination of health care for over 60,000 low-income residents of the state.
- Republicans in the JFC approved an enrollment cap on Family Care, a program designed to keep the elderly out of nursing homes.
- The Republican budget “cuts state funding for programs that provide immunizations and cancer screenings as well as services for those with autism, diabetes, and heart disease.”
- It also “strips $1 million per year in state funding for women’s healthcare centers statewide by defunding Planed Parenthood.”
- And Republicans are trying to increase bureaucracy: "By complicating the application process, restricting access to information, making it harder to appeal denials, and making it harder to find help navigating the process, the state is already weaning people off BadgerCare and Medicaid, saving tax dollars."
Unprofessionalism and Divisiveness:
Republicans have demonstrated a disregard for law and a severe lack of professionalism. They refuse to thoughtfully deliberate ideas; they refuse to listen to the people of Wisconsin, who in poll after poll stated that they opposed stripping workers of rights. In the past six months, they've made Wisconsin the most divided state in the country.
- This administration has placed illegal bans on Capitol access.
- Republicans have refused to comply with open meetings laws.
- They’ve trampled constitutional rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Assemble.
- They’ve have made attempts to intimidate people who connect the dots and report on the source of Republican legislation (namely, ALEC).
- And all this corruption is greased by money. In 2010, Republicans had 2-3 times as many contributions as Democrats.
- The Republican response to Judge Sumi’s ruling demonstrated a lack of judgment and maturity.
- Republicans relied on widespread fraud to get any of the Democrats on a recall ballot.
- Republicans are forcing primaries for the recall elections. 1) Republicans use dirty tricks to delay the recalls. 2) It will cost the state a lot of money. 3) Republicans were whining about voting integrity when they passed the voter suppression bill. 4) Even the conservative National Review can't endorse the slimy move of forcing primaries.
- Protesters are portrayed as "angry mobs" or as "union thugs."
- Republicans talked about planting agitators among the crowd of protestors.
- Unprecedented political divisiveness is seeping into families, is coming between friends, and is invading our workplaces.
- Walker is the most polarizing governor in the country. As Bill Cronon says, "What we're experiencing right now is unusual not just for this state, but for the nation." Divided we . . . how's it go?
Checks and Balances:
The Republicans are in control of the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary branches of Wisconsin government, and their tactic is to push through harmful reforms without having meaningful debates and without negotiation. Do we really want a one-party agenda to be put forward in a state that has proven to be varied and thoughtful in its political leanings? Do we really want a one-party system running our state?
- A top priority of Republicans is to maintain their power rather than govern. A perfect example: the voter suppression bill. It is unnecessary and undemocratic. It forces the state to spend millions to address a problem that doesn't exist. It disenfranchises minorities, the elderly, and students. It's simply bad for Wisconsin.
- And then there’s the cronyism. Cathy Stepp’s appointment to the DNR comes to mind. As does Stephen Fitzgerald’s appointment as head of the Wisconsin State Patrol. And then there’s the Brian Deschane fiasco. Oh, and Randy Hopper’s girlfriend. And these are just the ones that are clear-cut.
- The Republicans are treating their narrow margins of victory as landslides. They're in control of the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary branches of Wisconsin government, and their tactic is to push through harmful reforms without having meaningful debates and without negotiation. Do we really want a one-party agenda to be put forward in a state that has proven to be varied and thoughtful in its political leanings?
- The Wisconsin Idea is about making informed decisions to benefit the citizens of the state, not about making hasty, political decisions to benefit small numbers of people.
- Elect Jennifer Shilling http://www.jennifershilling.com/ to replace Dan Kapanke.
- Elect Jessica King http://www.jessicakingforsenate.com/ to replace Randy Hopper.
- Elect Sandy Pasch http://sandyforsenate.ngphost.com/ to replace Alberta Darling, whose record is horrendous.
- Elect Nancy Nusbaum http://nancyforsenate.com/ to replace Robert Cowles.
- Elect Fred Clark http://www.clarkforwisconsin.org/ to replace Luther Olsen.
- Elect Shelly Moore http://mooreforwisconsin.com/ to replace Sheila Harsdorf.