Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has pledged to create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin. He has an interesting way of going about it. Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Walker visited Curt Manufacturing near Eau Claire, Wisconsin last week to award the state manufacturing plant a $625,000 transportation grant and congratulate himself for creating 125 extra jobs as a result. "This project directly creates 125 new jobs and indirectly creates 129 jobs, resulting in $12.6 million in annual wages right here in Wisconsin," Walker said in a news release. "By providing these funds, we are bringing quality jobs to Wisconsin while improving road access to Curt Manufacturing's expanded facility." But credit for the same 125 jobs was already claimed back in December by then-Governor Jim Doyle when the Department of Commerce announced the administration was giving the same company $400,000 in tax credits and $11 million in tax-free bonds under a 2009 stimulus program. Doyle said the extra money would "create 125 extra jobs and result in $12.8 million investment to the community." Could the firm be creating 250 new jobs? Er, no says a company spokesman. Curt has committed to adding 125 positions by 2014. So Walker simply ladled out an extra $625,000 for the same 125 jobs. That amounts to a whopping $96,000 in taxpayer support per job. Let's hope they pay more than minimum wage.
The Institute for One Wisconsin, a non-partisan organization, released a report (pdf) last week that says that "despite claims from Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin is not 'broke.'" Their research found that the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen in the past twenty years, and though the state is overall quite wealthy, the bulk of that wealth has shifted to the richest people of the state, while Wisconsin's tax structure "is built around the middle class."
How does this shift in wealth make the state look as though it was broke? One Wisconsin stated that "this discrepancy has led to tax revenues failing to keep pace with Wisconsin's GDP, an over tax-burdened middle class, and budget shortfalls, instead of surpluses." While tax cuts for the wealthiest of the country and state have been extended, the tax burden has now been handed over to the middle class of the state, creating a disparity in people's falling incomes and rising taxes in the middle class.
Tax Day was approaching and the righties were out to denigrate government workers and government spending. Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska who quit her job in 2009, headlined a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, bought and paid for by the front-group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), but billed as a "grassroots" Tea Party event.
The wet snow and tense atmosphere did not deter thousands of people from coming to the capitol for Americans for Prosperity's Tax Day Rally. The major draw was former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was announced as a speaker days before the event on Saturday. Crowd estimates vary from hundreds to thousands, but the majority of people were there to protest -- not applaud -- Palin. One local reporter paced-off the area where the majority of AFP protesters clustered and said it totaled 20 by 35 feet.
Ohio Democrats this week introduced into a divided state legislature a new bill that would allow Ohio citizens to recall Governor John Kasich and other legislatures. The state has been in an ideological upheaval for months after Kasich's budget bill was introduced, similar to the Wisconsin bill that has received incredible national attention for stripping unions of their collective bargaining rights, and eventually signed April 2nd after some concessions were made by the Republican-held Assembly and Senate.
While Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan prepares to shut down the federal government to prove that government is bad, analysts say the radical agenda of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker suffered a major set back today as his good friend incumbent Justice David Prosser was defeated for Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together. –- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his last speech in Memphis
Wisconsin continues to spin out of control and a constitutional crisis looms as a judge this week again ordered Walker's administration to halt implementation of his bill stripping Wisconsin public workers of collective bargaining rights. Walker's team moved to publish the law in defiance of the court order last Friday night and began implementation of the bill on Saturday. These actions prompted an irate judge this week to clarify her previous standing order, making it "crystal clear" that "further implementation of the Act is enjoined."
William Cronon is a professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the prize winning author of many books such as Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, which revolutionized the study of environmental history. He is known as a guy with such a deep and abiding love of Wisconsin and its traditions that he leads the "get to know us" bus tour of the state offered to new faculty each year. Glaciers, rocks and history are on his agenda; politics and cheese he leaves to fellow-Wisconsinite and Capital Times editor John Nichols.
But this mild-mannered professor kicked a hornet's nest this week with an op-ed in the New York Times on Governor Scott Walker, and the push back was immediate. The Wisconsin GOP is now demanding his emails.
The reign of lawlessness continues in Wisconsin.
Last week, a local court issued a stay temporarily blocking the implementation of Governor Scott Walker's radical proposal to do away with most collective bargaining rights for public workers and cripple labor's ability to collect union dues. The court put a halt to the publication of the bill (an act performed by the Secretary of State), so there could be a hearing on whether or not the Wisconsin Senate violated the state's strong open meetings law in its rush to ram the bill through.