A Tale of Two States: Progressive Policies Win

24BORDERS-articleLarge.jpgStarting with the similarities in their histories, Lawrence Jacobs, professor of political science at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, writing in the New York Times, analyzes two extremes and demonstrates how the Progressives in Minnesota have brought growth and security while Wisconsin's Republican majority has failed to make any improvements in the business climate and job growth.

The piece points out that these neighboring states both elected new governors in 2010 and also gave each governor's party a strong majority in his respective legislature. Since then their economic fates have diverged. Minnesota pursued a range of progressive policies, including a highly progressive tax increase to fund essential services and infrastructure, while Wisconsin followed the hard-right playbook by cutting taxes for the wealthiest and for businesses.

As professor Jacobs writes, the election of these opposing governors and legislators "began a natural experiment that compares the agendas of modern progressivism and the new right." Here's the gist of his analysis:

Which side of the experiment — the new right or modern progressivism — has been most effective in increasing jobs and improving business opportunities, not to mention living conditions?

Obviously, firm answers will require more time and more data, but the first round of evidence gives the edge to Minnesota’s model of increased services, higher costs (mostly for the affluent) and reduced payments to entrenched interests like the insurers who cover the Medicaid population.

Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000.

Jacobs' insights have been picked up in a number of national media outlets like MSNBC, Minnpost, DailyKos, and others.

As it happens, this tale is repeated with another set of comparisons: between California and Wisconsin. And the results are similar. Professor Chinn, Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, posted a piece on the Econbrowser blog in September in which he "compared economic outcomes in two states that implemented contrasting fiscal policies: California, which surged ahead while raising taxes and cutting spending, and Wisconsin, which lagged far behind as it slashed spending on education, and cut taxes. Latest estimates of current economic activity, and forecasted economic activity six months out, indicate continued lagging performance for Wisconsin."

No matter how you slice it, progressive economic policies promote growth; regressive ones don't.


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Fast Food Workers Strike: Citizen Action Podcast


2aj6m87.jpgThis week Citizen Action records from the fast food and retail workers strike headquarters in Milwaukee. Along with the strike, they talk about Gov. Walker’s disgraceful plan to make 83,000 people in poverty wait 3 months for healthcare because he refuses to accept billions in federal money for BadgerCare. They also discuss redistricting, new GOP efforts to pass a Constitutional Amendment requiring a super majority to increase taxes in Wisconsin, and state Supreme Court “F” grade on ethics.

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Wrong Turns in the Fight to End Discrimination, Poverty, and Protection for Women's Health

Bill Further Erodes Our Minimum Wage Protections

In the 2009-2010 session, the Legislature passed bipartisan legislation that would give community members the option to petition to end the use of of race-based mascots at local schools in their area. Of the 65 schools that had Native American related mascots in 1989, 30 schools changed their nickname prior to the 2010 law while 32 schools still have Indian mascots. Despite only four schools having been affected by this bill--three changed their names and one is challenging the change request in court--legislative Republicans have felt compelled to overturn the law designed to diminish discrimination.

This past Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Senate took up this legislation, Assembly Bill 297, which will send Wisconsin backwards in the fight to end discrimination of all kinds, including towards Native Americans across the state. This bill eliminates the current process allowing people to file complaints with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) over race-based mascots and team names, and giving DPI the authority needed to enforce mascot changes at these schools. I was disappointed to see that so many of my Republican colleagues refused to even participate in the debate on this offensive bill.

Click here to view a copy of Senate Bill 320.

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What Will Health Insurance Cost Me?

subsidycalculator_blue1.pngOn November 5, 2013, the Kaiser Family Foundation published State-by-State Estimates of the Number of People Eligible for Premium Tax Credits Under the Affordable Care ActThe study finds that Wisconsin has approximately 301,000 residents who are likely to be eligible for tax credits to help pay for the premiums. The study also estimates that the potential market size is 482,000. 

The website also offers a simple calculator that can provide people an estimate of their premiums and tax credits to help pay for the insurance, based on their state, zip code, and income. For example, a 40 year old adult who has no children, who lives in Milwaukee, and earns $25,000 a year would be able to buy a "silver" plan for $3781 per year. But that's not what the plan will cost her. She will be eligible for tax credits totaling $2052. So her final cost for that tier of coverage will be $1729 or about $150 a month.

If she opts for a "bronze" tier plan, her out of pocket cost for health insurance will be about $873 per year, or just under $73 per month.

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Tell Us What You Envision

Take our Survey

So that we can better meet your needs, utilize your talents and organize to return Wisconsin to its progressive roots, please take our brief, 10-item survey.

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vote.jpgJohn Nichols, Robert W. McChesney, and their publisher Nation Books have graciously given Grassroots North Shore permission to post an extended excerpt from their recent book, Dollarocracy. If you enjoy what you see here, you can  purchase a copy of the book from us.

The excerpt below comes from the conclusion of the final chapter called "The Right to Vote: Beginning the New Age of Reform," pages 281-284, .


The headlines of the contemporary moment lead us back to a core understanding: the time has come to end the expansion and contraction of the right to vote in America and to establish it once and for all in the nation’s constitution. Voting rights experts are correct when they argue that doing so will provide the clarity that is needed to achieve the following:

  • Guarantee the right of every citizen eighteen and older to vote.
  • Empower Congress to set national minimum electoral standards for all states to follow.
  • Provide protection against attempts to disenfranchise individual voters.
  • Eliminate those rules and practices that give some voters more power than other voters.
  • Ensure that every vote cast is counted correctly.

But this, to our view, is merely the point of departure. Most rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution are negative rights. They protect against the encroachment of the government on a citizen’s right to speak, to assemble, to petition for the redress of grievances, to own a gun, to be secure from official intrusions. The assurance of a “positive liberty” to engage in the choosing of those governments, and by extension the process of defining its direction, ought to be recognized as the most precious of all freedoms.

To establish an affirmative right to vote, we can imagine an even simpler amendment than has been proposed; one that reads: “Every American citizen 18 years of age or older has a right to vote, to the information necessary to cast an informed vote, and to the assurance that their vote will count equally with others toward the formation of local, state, and national governments.” From such an assurance could extend protections necessary to establish real democracy and a more perfect union: not just equal access to the polls but equal access to news and opinions about the candidates and parties and issues; not just the assurance of the fair counting of votes for which there is currently no guarantee but also to voting systems and electoral districts that give those votes meaning. The possibilities are, as the poet Langston Hughes might suggest, “explosive.”

Judges who have suggested that there ought to be some kind of constitutional protection against gerrymandering would finally have the tool to prevent a party in power from drawing congressional or district lines that prevent meaningful competition and effectively disenfranchise citizens.70 Citizens might finally find the standing to demand the inclusion of minority parties in debates and the FCC to require broadcasters to provide free airtime to candidates and parties and more thorough coverage of issues and campaigns.71 Proponents of instant runoff voting, proportional representation, and other approaches that countries around the world have used to ensure diversity and a deeper political discourse would find an avenue for challenging inherently unfair “first-past-the-post” voting systems that saddle states across the country with one-party rule.72

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Find Out about Your Health Insurance Options


Learn More:
Sunday, November 3rd
3:30 pm

The new health insurance options in WI can be confusing. Thousands are at risk because Walker refused to expand Medicaid. Many people do not know what their options are or how to file for insurance coverage. Learn how you, your friends, family members and neighbors can navigate the system and find affordable, accessible health insurance in Wisconsin.

Get answers from the experts:

Robert Kraig (Citizen Action of WI)
Bob DeVita (Common Ground)
Matt Hayes (Senior Law)
Danielle Zirkel (Covering Kids and Families)

  • Bring your friends, relatives, colleagues – anyone who may not have health insurance or who pays for individual insurance.

  • Healthcare coverage in Wisconsin can be a game changer for small businesses, would-be entrepreneurs, people just leaving college, and all those working for companies that do not provide benefits.

  • The presentation will be followed by Q&A, with representatives staying afterward to answer questions and provide guidance.

Where: North Shore Presbyterian Church — 4048 N. Bartlett Ave., Shorewood (use south or northeast entrance).

When: Doors open at 3:30; presentation begins at 4:00; information and consultation with presenters available after Q&A.


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