Walker’s Policies Rob Workers to Pay Political Cronies

By Representatives Mark Pocan, Brett Hulsey, Terese Berceau, Chris Taylor

Recent newspaper headlines tell the story: we are poorer thanks to the last decade of massive tax cuts for the rich and lower investments in our schools, workers, and our country. We’ve seen these cuts to working families here in Wisconsin too, from Governor Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature.

A new Legislative Fiscal Bureau study on the state employee pay cuts imposed by Governor Walker and the GOP’s so-called budget repair bill shows that our lowest paid workers took nearly twice the pay cut of the highest paid state employees as a percentage of their paycheck.

An employee making $25,000 a year, like a custodian or a nursing home assistant, loses 11.3% of their paycheck. An employee making $125,000 a year, like Governor Walker and his top administrators, lose only 6.7%. At the same time, recently released census figures show plummeting incomes among Wisconsin’s working families. The average family today is making almost $6,000 less than the last time numbers were reported.

We recently pointed out that it’s completely unfair that a middle class worker takes almost twice the effective pay cut of Governor Walker and his political appointees, many of whom make in the range of $125,000 a year. A lower income family with children to support doesn’t have the $2,800 to spare that they no longer receive in their paychecks, but the true cost for working families is much higher.

Republicans are making more cuts to our state’s safety net programs like the Badgercare, SeniorCare, Wisconsin Shares, and FoodShare programs. Cutting the safety net denies working families affordable healthcare, prescription medicine, daycare assistance and food.

This is another example of Governor Walker and the GOP legislature implementing policies that take from the poor and the unemployed to give to their contributors and the rich. Last spring, Republican legislators rushed to adopt a bill that expanded the Governor’s appointing powers, allowing him to hire cronies like Cindy Archer to replace civil servants in top administrative positions at salaries as much as 65% higher than those they replaced.

The GOP followed up by voting down Democratic bills designed to help small businesses, focusing instead on cutting $1.6 billion dollars from public school children, defunding public universities, and slashing local aid that forces communities to cut funding for social assistance to all-time low levels across the state.

The state won’t be able to increase middle class incomes with Walker and the GOP’s slash and burn policies. Recent census figures show that middle class incomes in Wisconsin have plummeted compared to the rest of the country. Working families make almost 15% less than they did the last time these measurements were taken. Last month, Wisconsin lost 800 private sector jobs. With weak leadership from Governor Walker and GOP inaction in the legislature, little is being done to improve our long term outlook.

We have to stop Governor Walker and the Republican leadership that continues to implement regressive policies that take money out of the pockets of middle class families who make our economy work.

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