Welcome to your future, Wisconsin:
Don't say I didn't warn you.
Scott Walker loves to repeat his "I've held property taxes low" talking-point as some sort of validation and/or credibility for his (allegedly) superior vision and management skills. The County portion of property taxes were down 0.6 percent last year. The City's portion was down 2.5 percent, while the State was down 7.4 percent.
What's noteworthy about the narrative is the degree to which it defies simple common sense. It shouldn't be a matter of debate that only one thing creates jobs, and that's demand for companies' goods and services. The idea that a business that was booming would refuse to hire people and forego expansion because top tax rates might nudge upward is as silly as the idea that a business that has no customers would add new employees because its owners expect taxes to be low.
The study from the Council on Children and Families (using seasonally adjusted jobs data) found that between November 2009 and October 2010, manufacturing jobs outnumbered government ones in seven out of 12 months. This is the sort of data that alarmed the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce in late 2009 when government positions first exceeded those in manufacturing.
“This is a very disturbing development,” WMC vice-president of government relations James Buchen said in December 2009. “An economy that has more government jobs than manufacturing jobs cannot be sustained for the long-term … Wisconsin needs to turn this trend around quickly.”
The Council argues that this concern – echoed by Republican candidate Leah Vukmir this fall in her successful race to win the state senate seat representing Wauwatosa – is overblown since the vast majority of states have, for decades, had more government than manufacturing jobs. And in the first 10 months of this year, only two states, Wisconsin and Indiana, averaged about a 1 to 1 balance between these two employment sectors.
If this balance “is a useful gauge of a state’s economic vitality, then we should all celebrate the fact that Wisconsin is #1 and is far above most other states,” the Council’s paper remarks. The national average, it says, was slightly less than two government jobs for every manufacturing job.
"I am out of the office until 01/01/2011.
"With my election as Governor of Wisconsin effective January 3, 2011, I will not be returning to my office for the purposes of receiving emails. County activity should be directed to email@example.com
The new data also shows a higher prevalence of poverty among minorities in Wisconsin. The poverty rate was highest among blacks - with nearly 35% living in poverty, followed by American Indians (27%) and Hispanics (23%). Non-Hispanic whites reported the lowest rate among racial groups - 8.5%.
"An increasing proportion of Wisconsin residents are facing economic hardship," said the report's author, Katherine Curtis, demographic specialist at UW Extension and an assistant professor at UW-Madison. "These numbers suggest that economic development, including living wages, health benefits, food security and housing affordability should be front and center in policy discussions."
Clearly, it's the adults in this story who should be placed under increased scrutiny, not the kids.
Perhaps a better plan for the $1 million would be to hire enough dedicated child care case workers to check up on each of the centers on a regular basis to make sure they are doing what they say they do.
The state and some Wisconsin counties are stuck with the $35 million tab to upgrade a freight line between Madison and Watertown now that federal high-speed train money is gone.
“The state had been waiting nearly a decade for federal money to come to Wisconsin to upgrade this freight line,” said Ken Lucht, manager of community development for Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., the state-contracted operator of the 33-mile track. “But because it is being redirected to other parts of the country, it’s pretty clear now the state is going to have to rebuild it themselves.
As Gov.-elect Scott Walker moves toward announcing his cabinet, names of possible picks for key posts are emerging -- and several of them have strong local government experience.Multiple sources tell WisPolitics that Paul Jadin, the head of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and former mayor, is in the mix for DOA secretary.It's believed Walker has considered at least two other people for the post, but like with other potential appointments, has had some difficulty persuading candidates from the private sector to give up their jobs for a significant pay cut to join state government.
Travel times on the busy section of freeway will more than double during a repaving project scheduled to last about three months, from early April to the end of June.
Motorists commuting between the Marquette Interchange and Wisconsin Highway 16 can expect to add an hour per day to their drive time.
Well, duh. The cost of government has been on an unsustainable track and a good chunk of that cost is because of public employee unions. Once can’t seriously address the cost of government without addressing the public employee unions.
Jauch and other Democrats said Decker, a longtime member of a bricklayers union, would not tell his Democratic colleagues how he was going to vote before senators took the floor. Increasing the surprise, Decker had voted for the contracts earlier Wednesday in a committee that handles state labor agreements.
Union leaders have snarled as well that the new contracts are plenty harsh, since they don't include raises. True, though that, too, is normal for the rest of us. The deals, however, include lots of changes, seemingly small, in which the state concedes all sorts of prerogatives.
One is the way pensions get calculated. Another is the power to decide how to take compensation for overtime - cash or time off? - and when. This now would be up to employees. Another is more paid time off for union business. The list goes on.
"It's huge," said Darling. "It's the biggest concession of management rights I've heard of."
And that matters why? Because such concessions are gold to union leaders, as old labor negotiators told me. Controlling when and how employees take comp time, for instance, is critical to keeping overtime in line, especially in places such as prisons that are staffed 24/7. The state will want to win back that right in the next contract, due in six months, but it will have to pay for it.
First, is Barca saying that if Walker brought this up after he was sworn in then he’d be OK with it? Of course not. Second, there was a lot of talk about the cost of state government during the campaign. What did Barca think that was about? Also, Walker’s interactions with the Milwaukee County unions were unambiguous (I think capper would agree). Did any thinking voter not understand Walker’s position regarding public employee unions?
Who did not see this coming?
Scott Walker will do everything he can to make himself look good at the expense of anyone else. He will shift blame and responsibility onto anyone he can.
Lets remember, he proposed the creation of a Parks District with its own taxing authority to replace the Milw. County Parks system. This would have allowed Walker to have lowered property taxes by a penny or two while the new Parks District would have to raise taxes to do what actually needed to be done to have the quality parks deparement that this community actually deserves.<>
Not for us in Wisconsin though! No, not us. We want to go back to the future. We want to be the worlds largest producer of buggy whips!
Go Scott, go!!!
He joins a crowded field of prospective candidates, but Stone's expected announcement would make him the first current officeholder to officially take the plunge.
Others mulling the race include former Democratic state Rep. Sheldon Wasserman, County Board Chairman Lee Holloway, County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic and Johnny Thomas, County Clerk Joe Czarnezki, County Treasurer Dan Diliberti and former County Executive Tom Ament.
The new agency would focus on making it easier for business to grow in Wisconsin. Other states, such as Indiana and Michigan, have done something similar, providing good models for Wisconsin to follow. This new agency must be transparent, especially in revealing how public money is spent. The Indiana version appears to be less open than Wisconsin's Commerce Department.
Here's how it works. There are over $100 million in costs associated with the Milwaukee Train Shed, track improvements on the corridor and maintenance facility for the popular Hiawatha Line linking that city to Chicago. Because the new high speed rail line that Walker has now killed would have connected Chicago to the Twin Cities through Milwaukee and Madison, the feds were going to pick up that $100 million in improvements as part of the $810 million set aside for the Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison part of the project.
But now that Walker has turned back the federal money so that it can be spent on the same kind of project in other states, Wisconsin will have to pick up that $100 million through the very same state Transportation Fund that Walker said he was trying to protect.
It gets worse. At most, the annual operating costs for the Milwaukee to Madison portion of the line would have been around $7 million. That's the main reason Walker said he opposed the project. But now the state will have to shoulder more than 14 times as much to make those necessary improvements in Milwaukee. In other words, for what it's going to cost us to make those improvements we could have paid for the Milwaukee to Madison operating costs for fourteen years.
And here's the real kicker. Where is that $100 million going to come from? The very same state Transportation Fund that pays for roads. So, by turning down the high speed rail money Walker is actually hurting the road projects he said he wanted to protect.
CRG leader Chris Kliesmet attempted to distance his group from the effort...
Kliesmet says the CRG – which was heavily involved in the recall of county supervisors who voted for the infamous pension plan – hasn’t held a recall since 2002.
Wisconsin also was allowed to retain up to $2 million to fund unspecified upgrades on Amtrak's existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line. But that won't cover all of the $19.4 million cost of renovating the train shed at Milwaukee's downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station or the $52 million cost of building a new maintenance base for two newly purchased trains, two projects that would have been paid for out of the $810 million in federal funds.Outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle had suggested Walker's stand also would jeopardize a separate $12 million grant for upgrades to a Hiawatha crossing and the Mitchell International Airport station platform, but the federal announcement made no mention of withdrawing that money.
Taxpayers' yearly support for the rail line was estimated at $4.7 million. According to the Census Bureau, in 2008, there were 2,236,518 households in Wisconsin. This equals roughly $2.10 per year, per household. As Bill Sell posted, 2 cents of every $10 of our transportation budget would go toward the rail line. Presently $9.20 of every $10 goes toward roads. Transportation expenditures breakdown thusly: 92% on roads; 4.4% on mass transit; 3.4% for railroads, harbors, and airports; and the proposed line would have gotten .2%.
$810 million in infrastructure, jobs, and development for $2.10 per year, per household, or for .2% of the transportation budget - sounds like quite a deal. Too expensive? Nonsense! This is a sad day for Wisconsin.
"In our view, this is even more tragic for the state of Wisconsin than it is for Talgo," Friend said in a written statement. "This is the rejection of creation of direct and indirect jobs, of added tourism, of the increase in state income taxes with permanent employment and . . . lost opportunities (from) the establishment and growth of the vendor supply chain, among many other benefits."
Why would they do such a thing? Because it would cost taxpayer money to operate the rail lines after they're built.Scott Walker, Republican governor-elect of Wisconsin, fretted that his state's train would cost $7.5 million a year to operate. As train supporters pointed out to the New York Times, this is sort of like turning down a free car because you don't want to have to pay for gasoline and insurance. Not only did Walker and Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich, also a Republican, ignore the construction jobs the projects would have created, but they ignored the positive impact on their states' economies, freeways and environment that the trains would have brought to future generations.
House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday thwarted Democratic efforts to award $250 checks to Social Security recipients facing a second consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase.
President Barack Obama and Democrats have urged approval of the one-time payment, saying seniors barely getting by on their Social Security checks face undue hardships without the COLA increase.
But most Republicans contended that the nation couldn't afford the estimated $14 billion cost of the payment, and that the COLA freezes in 2010 and 2011 come after seniors received a significant boost in 2009.
In 2010, the overtime at the mental health complex is projected to be $4.3 million. The County could use at least some of this money to hire more staff. With the hiring, it could cut down on overtime costs, as well as FMLA costs. FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) has been accelerating due to workers being injured or just plain burned out, stemming from the high levels of overtime they’ve been putting in.
Not coincidentally, the higher use of FMLA also equates to higher overtime, as that the already depleted work force has to cover those out on leave.
Another reason the new hires are needed was shown this last year with the numerous incidents of sexual assaults at the complex, inmates leaving the complex only to assault neighboring residents and the slue of lawsuits stemming from these and other similar incidents.
Perhaps Supervisor Dimitrijevic and Mr. Heer are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking if the county can afford hiring the extra staff for the complex, they should be asking can the county afford not to hire them.
Elizabeth Edwards, who catapulted into the public eye in 2004 when her husband, Sen. John Edwards, ran for president on the Democratic ticket, is being remembered for her fortitude and grace.
Over the past few years, Edwards wrote two best-selling books, fought a well-publicized battle against cancer and saw her marriage crumble after her husband fathered a child with another woman. Edwards died Tuesday at age 61.<
"Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up," President Obama said in a statement. "But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration."
With the county facing a huge structural budget deficit and Walker pledging to put state government on a diet – a move that could mean diminished state aid for the county -- it’s no wonder the would-be candidates are mostly staying on the sidelines, Diliberti said during a meeting with Journal Sentinel editors and reporters.
“It’s why no one has declared,” said Diliberti, 63. The potential candidates want to know whether “some one is going to burn (the county) down while I’m trying to build it,” he said.
Diliberti favors beefing up the county rather than stripping away duties. Spinning off county functions such as parks and transit to new separately run districts would be a return to a model phased out 50 years ago for good reason, he said.
Consolidating services at the county level could improve efficiency without sacrificing quality, he said, pointing to the consolidated emergency 911 system and emergency medical services as examples of services done well by the county.
He also said abolishing the post of county executive – another change favored by Walker – could mean a return to a more closed system of government in which the Board chairman who is elected from one of 19 districts effectively runs the county.
Unions can give away everything and Walker will still attack them & the middle class. You are the scapegoat while he cuts taxes for the rich
The documents unveiled some changes which Doyle failed to share. As for overtime, the decision as to how overtime will be paid to employees, either at time-and-a-half in cash, or compensatory time or a combination thereof, is moved from the employer (the state, or the taxpayers) to the employees.Egads, those state workers and Governor Doyle are dastardly villians, aren't they?
…. Another perk for employees could be a sick pay conversion. The proposed contract would allow retirees to convert any unused sick leave at retirement at the highest pay rate earned in state service — not what they were being paid at the time they stopped working. The same conversion rate could be used when determining sick leave for a work-related injury or disease.
More pay can be had if an employee is injured on the job and needs to be treated at a hospital. If they are released from the hospital after the regular shift ended, they can receive up to 2 hours of straight time pay…