The Truth about Walker's Policies and Job Growth

The Journal Sentinel's May 19th editorial on Gov. Walker’s exaggerations about business starts in Wisconsin includes a statement that needs a rebuttal. “We believe there is very little any Governor can do to directly affect job creation.”

In “The Three Little Pigs”, the Big Bad Wolf huffed and he puffed — but he could not blow down the house made of bricks! The forces defending Wisconsin’s status quo can huff and puff about the reasons Scott Walker will not be able to reach his campaign pledge of 250,000 new jobs created during his first term, but they can’t blow away the Governor’s responsibility for the slow job growth.

Private sector jobs increased from January 2011 to February 2014 by 6.8% for the US and by only 4.2% for Wisconsin. Governor Walker’s policies are failing to deliver on the promised 250,000 jobs AND Wisconsin’s rate of job growth is falling short of the United States’ job growth rate. As the United States pulls out of the recession, Wisconsin’s job growth lags US job growth.

While there are many reasons for Governor Walker’s failures, an important reason is that when Governor Walker in 2011 abruptly cut state spending, and reduced the amount of goods and services the state purchases, he reduced demand, which contracted the economy. There are times when such spending cuts are necessary — but not in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s and not abruptly. Not only did Governor Walker’s spending cuts have the immediate negative effect of reducing jobs, they also are having longer term negative consequences on education and infrastructure and weakening control by local elected officials.

Furthermore, Governor Walker’s decisions to refuse Federal assistance for Wisconsin for developing our infrastructure (the improved rail link between Milwaukee and Madison), and for helping those Wisconsin citizens most in need of help (the rejected Medicaid expansion) exacerbated this lack of progress in job creation.  Instead of hundreds of millions of our federal tax payments returning to Wisconsin, Governor Walker told the Federal government to give that money to other states. Also, state dollars have been substituted for federal dollars to support transit and health care.

Governor Walker made choices based on political ideology instead of what has worked — or not — elsewhere. (See Kansas, which has had poor economic growth in spite of large tax cuts)  A pledge without a sound plan is just a recipe for failure.

The graph shows the difference between the rate of job growth in the US and the rate of job growth in Wisconsin from March 2009, when the recession officially ended, through February 2014. Bars above 0% represent better than average growth of jobs while bars below 0% represent lagging job growth. The data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

WI-US_jobGrowth.png

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Attorney General Town Hall Video

State Representative Jon Richards and Jefferson County DA Susan Happ at our very well attended and very informative forum for the Democratic candidates for Wisconsin Attorney General that took place this Sunday.

Along with Madison DA Ismael Ozanne, we have a great slate of candidates and any one of them would make a great AG.

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Where Are the Jobs, Governor?

The official count stands at 91,678 private sector jobs created from January 2011 through December 2013. That's a mere 37% of the 250,000 private sector jobs Scott Walker promised to add to the state's total by the end of 2014 (BloombergBusinessweek News, May 16, 2014). 

The graph shows the sorry picture: below average job growth, compared to the national average, every single month he has been in office.

wisconsin_job_growth-during_scott_walker.jpg

So, it's election time again and the guv doesn't have a good record on his signature issue. What to do? Make up stuff. According to Politifact, Walker's been rolling out a new talking point: that "17,000 new ready-to-hire businesses have sprung up on his watch" (Politifact, May 17, 2014). But that number, meant to show that the state is poised to add thousands and thousands of new jobs in the next six months or the next year just "crumbles upon examination," as Politifact puts it.

Why? Because 80% of those "business entities" are LLCs, or Limited Liability Corporations. That type of "business entity" is created primarily for tax and liability purposes. They don't employ anyone!

*graph and data from The Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch, May 30, 2013.

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Let's Not Take the Public Out of Public Schools

publicSchoolBus.jpgChris Ahmuty, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, is giving an online presentation, sponsored by Grassroots North Shore, on Thursday, May 15, at 7:00pm on the topic "Public Education as the Bulwark of Democracy: What Has Gone Wrong in Wisconsin."

You can register for this webinar here: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EA53D88283493D

Everyone needs to understand what we stand to lose if we allow our public schools to be increasingly privatized (and run for profit) through voucher and charter school initiatives. According to a recently published report from the Economic Policy Institute,

"it appears that charter privatization proposals are driven more by financial and ideological grounds than by sound pedagogy:

  • National research shows that charter schools, on average, perform no better than public schools. There is thus no basis for believing that replacing traditional public schools in Milwaukee with privately run charters will result in improved education.
  • To truly improve education in Milwaukee, we must start with the assumption that poor children are no less deserving of a quality education than rich children. As such, the schools that privileged suburban parents demand for their children should be the yardstick we use to measure the adequacy of education in the city. This means subjecting all schools—whether public, charter, or voucher—to the same standards of accountability, including measurements that account for the economic and disability challenges their students face, and that recognize the value of a broad curriculum and experienced teachers who are qualified to develop the full range of each child’s capacities." [Source: http://www.epi.org/publication/school-privatization-milwaukee/, April 24, 2014]

Join your friends at Grassroots North Shore on Thursday evening: you can participate in your robe and slippers after all. Because on the Internet, no one knows what you're wearing!

 

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Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Endorses Burke!

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WI Leaves Some Veterans Without Health Insurance

veterans_detail.gifIn March 2013, the Pew Charitable Trust's Stateline Project estimated that

"more than a quarter-million veterans who lack health insurance will miss out on Medicaid coverage because they live in states that have declined to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act."

Because Wisconsin decided not to expand Medicaid, the state turned down an estimated $1.8 billion in federal funding, monies that would have been spent in our local economies. But the harmful consequences go beyond an abstract economic hit. They reach real people: folks who would be able to have health insurance coverage through BadgerCare if Walker and his party had done the right, moral, and responsible thing. 

And it turns out that those people left out are not just any "folks." A large number of veterans fall into the excluded category. Pew estimates that that 6,400 Wisconsin veterans won't have health insurance because Wisconsin refused the Medicaid expansion.

Wisconsin thanks its veterans for their military service, right? Except when it comes to the ideologically-driven, mean-spirited decision to let these brave men and women go it alone.

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The Tax Man Cometh

IN-Wisconsins-tax-system_small.pngIt's tax time again and no doubt plenty of Wisconsin citizens are gnashing their teeth, wishing that their state tax burden were lighter. Instead of fuming, though, people really ought to try this easy, little known trick for lowering their taxes.

Just be rich to begin with!! (See the graph from the Wisconsin Budget Project on the right.)

Another easy trick? Become a big, profitable corporation. Then, in addition to being able to spend unlimited amounts of money buying politicians and political favors, one could get really remarkably favorable tax treatment.

For example, the Wisconsin Budget Project has posted the Wisconsin state income tax burden over the past five years for these major corporations based in Wisconsin:

  • Rockwell Automation, based in Milwaukee: -1.0%
  • Harley-Davidson, based in Milwaukee: 1.4%
  • Joy Global, based in Milwaukee: 2.2%
  • Bemis, based in Sheboygan Falls: 3.0%
  • Kohl’s, based in Menomonee Falls: 3.6%
  • Fiserve, based in Brookfield: 4.3%
  • Rockwell Automation, based in Milwaukee: -1.0%
  • Harley-Davidson, based in Milwaukee: 1.4%
  • Joy Global, based in Milwaukee: 2.2%
  • Bemis, based in Sheboygan Falls: 3.0%
  • Kohl’s, based in Menomonee Falls: 3.6%
  • Fiserve, based in Brookfield: 4.3%
- See more at: http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org/new-report-shows-major-corporations-based-in-wisconsin#sthash.Us2Hec9l.dpuf
  • Rockwell Automation, based in Milwaukee: -1.0%
  • Harley-Davidson, based in Milwaukee: 1.4%
  • Joy Global, based in Milwaukee: 2.2%
  • Bemis, based in Sheboygan Falls: 3.0%
  • Kohl’s, based in Menomonee Falls: 3.6%
  • Fiserve, based in Brookfield: 4.3%
  • Rockwell Automation, based in Milwaukee: -1.0%
  • Harley-Davidson, based in Milwaukee: 1.4%
  • Joy Global, based in Milwaukee: 2.2%
  • Bemis, based in Sheboygan Falls: 3.0%
  • Kohl’s, based in Menomonee Falls: 3.6%
  • Fiserve, based in Brookfield: 4.3%
- See more at: http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org/new-report-shows-major-corporations-based-in-wisconsin#sthash.Us2Hec9l.dpuf
  • Rockwell Automation, based in Milwaukee: -1.0%
  • Harley-Davidson, based in Milwaukee: 1.4%
  • Joy Global, based in Milwaukee: 2.2%
  • Bemis, based in Sheboygan Falls: 3.0%
  • Kohl’s, based in Menomonee Falls: 3.6%
  • Fiserve, based in Brookfield: 4.3%
- See more at: http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org/new-report-shows-major-corporations-based-in-wisconsin#sthash.Us2Hec9l.dpuf
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