Is this whole Wisconsin budget mess ginned-up? That’s one of the threads flowing around the left end of the media spectrum, which suggests that Wisconsin’s budgetary problems have nothing to do with unions – and everything to do with stuff Scott Walker pushed through. They’ve been pointing to this report from the state’s fiscal bureau with this particular sentence: “More than half of the lower estimate ($117.2 million) is due to the impact of Special Session Senate Bill 2 (health savings accounts), Assembly Bill 3 (tax deductions/credits for relocated businesses), and Assembly Bill 7 (tax exclusion for new employees).” To make it clear, these are all things that Walker pushed through. These have nothing to do with unions. They’re intended as stimulus through tax cuts and incentives, however, not special interest-focused spending as a few have suggested. The overall result still leads one to question Walker’s motives, however – because, based on this evidence, that the union collective bargaining cuts could be at the benefit of his own initiatives, not strictly “balancing the budget.” (thanks mgolladwine) source
mgolladwyne says: well, it’s not really a deficit crisis is it? TPM reports that WI gov. walker “ginned up the books” on this one: tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo…
» We say: Interesting to note (and we suggest you all read the link), but one point worth pointing out – and this is something The Capital Times, which TPM quoted, has wrong.The issue here is not $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups, but rather lower revenues from three credit-and-deduction-based initiatives. So yes, these do mean the state has lower revenues, but it’s not because of special-interest spending. (Oh, and read the document directly – it’s informative.)
We were left with no choice … The question is when are the Republicans going to sit down seriously with the other side on this issue and try to work something out.Democrat Wisconsin state Sen. Jon Erpenbach • Explaining why he chose to leave the state, and what it will take to get him back. He and every other Democratic state senator in Wisconsin left in protest of a GOP-backed plan to limit public employees’ abilities to collectively bargain for better wages, in a push to stop a deficit crisis. As a result, the GOP doesn’t have quorum – because 20 state senators need to be there, and there are 19 Republicans. This is the first such incident were an entire party left a state to avoid a vote since Democratic members of the Texas state senate and state house left the state to avoid a vote on redistricting – the same vote, mind you, that led to Tom DeLay’s corruption conviction. source (via • follow)
Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally seems like more of an assault on unions. I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends.Barack Obama • Coming out in support of public employees currently facing the squeeze in an anti-union fight in Wisconsin. The vote will likely take place today, and it’s clear where Gov. Scott Walker is leaning – he’s budget-minded first, and sounds frustrated by the fact that collective bargaining agreements take so long. “I don’t have 15 months to balance a budget, and I certainly am not going to pass a budget on a hope and a prayer that that might happen,” he said. Hey Scott, based on the protests, it’s clear that a balanced budget is not the top priority for the people who have been flooding Madison the last few days. Consider that. source (via • follow)
» Our take: Why is it that the first thing GOP leaders look to cut are public-works projects with potential long-term implications? The two projects in question here – a high-speed link between Milwaukee and Chicago and another between four of Ohio’s largest cities – would have a long-term positive effect on the state economies. Yet canceling them halfway through is a great idea. Have these guys even looked at the rising popularity of the Acela trains in the Northeast Corridor? Or how much these would help commuters? Milwaukee to Chicago, for example, is a very common Amtrak trip, and faster trains would make it easier for people who want to skip the traffic to make the trek. It’s not always about slimming down now, but planning for tomorrow.