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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If Not Now, When?

9to5_logo.jpgOn Thursday, April 10, Martha De La Rosa, State Director for 9to5 of Wisconsin, is presenting a webinar entitled "When Women Do Better, Wisconsin Does Better." You can sign up to attend the 7:00 PM presentation by clicking on this link: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EA53DE8889493D

wageGap_larger.jpgBut perhaps you think this issue isn't really very pressing. I beg to differ. As the Institute for Women's Policy Research reported In January, 2014,

About half of all workers (51 percent of women and 47 percent of men) report that the discussion of wage and salary information is either discouraged or prohibited and/or could lead to punishment. Most government agencies have formal grade and step systems that make general wage and salary information public (only 18 percent of women and 11 percent of men in the public sector report discouragement or prohibition of wage and salary discussions).

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the very first act President Obama signed into law, sought to make it easier for women to seek redress for wage discrimination in the federal courts.

Here in Wisconsin, however, our state government decided to go backwards and to make judicial redress HARDER. Here's Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson's brief account from April 2013:

Shocking the state, legislative Republicans rejected Wisconsin's tradition of fairness and rolled back equal protection laws for Wisconsin's working women by passing 2011 Wisconsin Act 219 last session. The adoption of this proposal eliminates equal protection laws for Wisconsin's women and limits their ability to seek justice for discrimination. This bill not only halted much needed steps towards equal pay for women, but also erased prior advances that have been made.

This issue affects everyone. Please join Grassroots North Shore and Marth De La Rosa, Thursday, April 10, 7:00 PM to learn how you can help make real progress in closing the pay gap. Register here: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EA53DE8889493D.

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Food for Thought

skwJobsRecord.jpgScott Walker's re-election should be in trouble. His signature issue — that Wisconsin would grow 250,000 private-sector jobs before the end of his first term — is toast. As today's update to Politifact's Walk-O-Meter points out, the clock is running out "on Gov. Scott Walker's promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs before the end of his four-year term.... In a little more than three years with Walker as governor, the state has created an estimated 101,572 private sector jobs. That leaves 148,428 jobs — or an average of 14,842 a month for the rest of the year — for Walker to achieve his promise."

So he can't really run on his record. But that might not translate into an electoral defeat. As we head into the 2014 election cycle, it may be useful to look back at some of the analysis of the recall election if only to see whether the arguments proffered then still resonate with us today. And to evaluate our own thinking about how we frame our positions now.

The day after the failed recall, Dean Bakopoulos published an article in Slate called "What's the Matter with Wisconsin," a riff on Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter with Kansas. His basic argument is that Walker's camp successfully turned some ordinary middle-class Wisconsinites into scapegoats. Here's the gist of it:

As Wisconsin’s new political landscape so clearly indicates, conservatives have ... managed to vilify plain old working people as elitist fat cats. Librarians, teachers, public employees, and union laborers: Basically, people who earn health insurance and decent wages have suddenly become the things that stagnate an economy and raise taxes, when in truth they, and those wages they enjoy, have been the lifeblood of a struggling post-industrial economy.

But by declaring war on teachers, union laborers, and public sector employees, the well-heeled spinners behind the rise of Scott Walker have managed to make struggling Americans vote against their own best interests out of a sense of fear and envy. Struggling workers — and most comfortable middle-class workers — often to need an identifiable villain, someone who is holding them back from success, in order to vote Republican. If Republicans can present themselves as an enemy of that villain, they win. That’s what happened happened last night in Wisconsin.

I wonder how many Democrats, whether moderate or progressive, agree with Bakopoulos's assessment. And to the extent we see merit in his position, what do we need to do to identify alternative "villains"?

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