As efforts to gather enough signatures to recall Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker got underway, the Walker administration appears to be changing its tune on some issues. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who is also a target of the recall efforts, released an ad this week on her campaign YouTube channel, "RebeccaForReal," where she discourages viewers from signing a recall petition so that the state can avoid the cost of a special election. The Lt. Governor argues that the money ($7.7 million is her estimate) should be spent on "what matters most," like school books for kids, health care for the poor, and raises for teachers.
But do these things "matter most?"
Earlier this year, the Walker and Kleefisch budget cut far more than their estimated cost of a recall from portions of the state budget directly affecting children. The budget included some of the worst cuts to public education seen in the country -- $800 million. A survey released this month by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, reports that 75 percent of school districts saw cut backs of essential programs and staff and an equal number of school districts expect as deep or deeper cuts next year.
The Walker administration's cuts to essential health care for the state's poorest families amount to even more than the cuts to public education. Walker and Kleefisch are proposing that cuts equivalent to $848 million in the Wisconsin's Medicaid program over two years. The administration is also proposing dropping a 65,000 people from the state's Medicaid program, including 29,000 Wisconsin children.
Although the Kleefisch ad suggests that a top priority is raises for teachers, under the controversial "budget repair" bill Wisconsin teachers will be making less not more. According to a Wisconsin Education Association Council spokesperson, teachers are seeing about a $5,000 cut in their paychecks due to increased health care and pension contributions. Many teachers were already making such contributions under their contracts. Wisconsin's average teacher salary is $51,000 according to the National Education Association.
(The Center for Media and Democracy does not endorse or oppose any candidate for office. Since 1993, CMD has been reporting on corporate spin and government propaganda, exposing public relations tactics, and debunking PR campaigns.)