Gov. Walker’s solution to funding transportation projects? Borrow, borrow, borrow!

It looks like our “fiscally responsible” Governor Scott Walker’s “plan” for funding transportation projects in Wisconsin is simple: kick the can down the road by borrowing $500 million.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel received an early look at the plan, which the DOT will submit Thursday and the governor will use as he crafts the budget bill he’ll send to lawmakers in February. Walker will tour the state Thursday to tout the proposal, including two stops at projects that his administration wants to keep on track at a cost of more than $500 million over two years: I-39/90 from the Illinois state line to Madison; and Highway 10/441 in the Fox Valley.

But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said that the Walker administration plan would forego permanent answers in favor of a “political solution” that would lead to longer delays on ever more expensive projects. Doing maintenance on outdated highways is akin to putting a new roof on a house that has been condemned, he said.

“I’m concerned that his solution does nothing more than kick the can down the road for two years,” Vos said.

The DOT proposal would also authorize $500 million in new borrowing, down from $850 million in debt approved in the current budget. That amount of new bonds is expected to ensure that in the coming years no more than 25 cents out of every dollar in the state transportation fund is used to pay off debt, state officials said.

While supporters of Gov. Walker love to talk about how he’s gotten the state on solid financial footing, the fact is Wisconsin is no better off than when Gov. Walker was elected – he’s just done a better job than his predecessors when it comes to evading the consequences of his irresponsible fiscal decisions.

Scott Walker proposes sales tax “holiday” gimmick

It’s never a good sign when your “fiscally responsible” Republican governor (and “fiscally responsible” I mean not fiscally responsible at all) proposes a sales tax “holiday” gimmick, presumably as a means of boosting the economy.

Sales tax holidays are common across the southern United States – 17 states from Texas to Virginia have them, with the majority of them falling around the time students return to school, according to a July report by the Tax Foundation. Only a few states in the northern half of the United States have them – Iowa, Ohio and Connecticut – though six more states have no sales tax at all.

The holidays are popular with many consumers for offering at least the promise of some relief around one of the major seasons for family spending. But the measures are also panned by policy experts for doing little to boost the economy.

The recent Tax Foundation report found that sales tax holidays do not promote jobs growth but instead merely shift the timing of consumer purchases and complicate the process of collecting taxes from stores. Some retailers may also raise prices during the holiday, reducing consumer savings, the report found.

As has been noted elsewhere, the sales tax “holiday” gimmick proposed by Gov. Walker is nothing more than a blatant attempt to pander for votes leading up to what is certain to be a reelection campaign.

Governor Walker Supports 3 Year College Degree Program!

For my thousand and first post, I am going for pure snark:

For his recent new found support for public education during is State of the State address, Governor Walker suggested that he’d work with the University of Wisconsin System to develop a three year degree program.

Walker reiterated the steps he said the state has made on his watch to increase employment and better prepare young people for the workplace.

Among them: a pilot program to encourage students to start thinking about careers earlier in school; additional funding for so-called dual enrollment programs that allow high schoolers to earn technical college credits; and ongoing talks with University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross to develop a three-year degree program.

Hmmm…a three year degree? Maybe then he’ll have enough credits to graduate?

Johnson Controls About To Leave Wisconsin?

Breaking news from JSOnline says Johnson Controls is about to merge with Ireland’s Tyco International. Tyco is a fire protection and security company. Although the article says that local miscreant and current CEO of Johnson Controls, Alex Molinaroli, will run the new combined company, will JCI’s legal headquarters end up in Ireland for tax purposes? Will they be the largest example of the Wisconsin business loss trend that Governor Walker’s ‘Open for Business’ policy has become?

Wisconsin’s largest public company, Johnson Controls Inc., is in advanced talks to merge with Ireland-based fire protection and security company Tyco International, according to a report Sunday by the Wall Street Journal.

Citing people familiar with the talks, the business publication said a deal could be announced as soon as Monday.

Financial terms of the potential transaction aren’t known.

Alex Molinaroli, chief executive of Johnson Controls, would be expected to run the combined company, the newspaper reported.

Update 1/15/2016 6:18 PM Some of you are getting a bit carried away. I never suggested that JCI would move their manufacturing jobs and overall operations out of Milwaukee. The gist of the post was that JCI would use Ireland as their legal corporate HQ and do a ‘tax inversion’ to avoid taxes. And I got ragged on over on Facebook for wild speculation last night…when the actual announcement actually bore out my supposition. Go figure

GOP Candidates Continue To Sell Out Their Constituents!

As Zach mentioned yesterday there is a special election coming up to select a new state representative in the 99th district to replace Chris Kapenga who was recently elected to the state senate. There are four candidates in the GOP primary and nary a Democrat to be found (so much for Mike Tate’s 72 county strategy or contesting every election) so the winner of the GOP contest will be the nominal representative.

But it is interesting that three are kneeling at the altar of conservative dogma…particularly tax cuts…while important constituencies within their district are suffering…and complaining to Madison about it. Well first let’s start with the candidates”

Cindi Duchow is a Town of Delafield supervisor:

Duchow, 56, says she wants to reduce income and property taxes. “I’m ready to fight to save you every dime I can in Madison so that more money stays in your pocket here at home,” she says in a campaign statement.

Scott Owens of the Town of Genesee:

Owens pledged to eliminate corporate income taxes as part of a strategy to stimulate job creation and grow Wisconsin’s economy.

“I am running as a conservative who wants to go to Madison and continue the big bold reforms that were started by Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Chris Kapenga,” he said in a statement.

Dave Westlake of Hartland:

His central campaign theme is that “less government leads to more favorable results.”

Among his priorities if elected to the office Westlake lists increasing penalties for fraud, reducing taxes and spending and stimulating job growth.

Spencer Zimmerman of the City of Delafield:

This space intentionally left blank…because he didn’t respond to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Of course lower taxes has been Governor Walker’s mantra and he has done exactly that via all his biennial budgets. But it is seriously hurting Wisconsin constituents and particularly Wisconsin education. I am ashamed that I haven’t written about this before…but recently 35 Wisconsin principals wrote a letter to the governor and the state legislature, calling them to task for cutting state support for public schools. Which schools? Are they from the progressive hotbed in Madison? From the long suffering Milwaukee Public Schools? NO, they are from small towns and villages spread across the red counties of Wisconsin…including Arrowhead HS, one of the largest and most successful schools in the state, and right smack dab in the middle of the 99th!

So I would hope the principals come out against further cuts and shame the candidates that would be willing to cause further damage to their schools by continuing to cut state revenues…and let the parents know what’s going on!!

Here are a few choice excerpts from the coverage linked above:

“Since the onset of revenue limits in 1992, our school districts have been reducing and eliminating programs and resources,” the letter states. “We are burdened by the cumulative effects of budget cuts resulting in increased class sizes, cut programs and deferred maintenance plans.”

Jefferson High School principal Mark Rollefson, who spearheaded the letter-writing effort, said one reason for the principals to collaborate on a message was that most people in local communities know their principals and likely trust them.

“High school principals attend a lot of musicals, FFA events, community functions, athletic events, concerts, PT conferences, graduation and much more,” Rollefson said. “As such, the community can relate to us. A letter to the Wisconsin governor and copied to legislators signed by 35 area principals may catch Madison’s attention.”

Letter-signer Gregg Wieczorek, principal at Arrowhead High School, hopes so. He said principals are the ones who have their finger on the pulse of local education.

“They have cross integration of parents, teachers, students — they kind of get the whole thing,” Wieczorek said. “Yet they’re not consulted. They’re not involved in the decision making or even the advising stage.”

Rollefson said the same goes for local school boards whose hands are “hogtied” because of so many mandates preventing local officials from making decisions.

“The federal and state governments control curriculum, testing, funding, calendar, certification and more,” Rollefson said. “Is it not time to trust the people to make decisions rather than Big Government? Is this not why we have a school board?”

From a similar article from

“We do not support recent budgets and the underfunding of public education,” read the letter signed by Machell Schwarz, principal of DeForest Area High School; Brian Sniff, principal of Marshall High School; James Hickey, retiring principal of McFarland High School, and Jim Pliner, principal of Oregon High School, along with 31 others.

Budget cuts have meant smaller school staffs and less autonomy for local school boards, the principals said.

“Citizens trust these locally elected officials to set policy and support education in our communities. These respected school board members have far less control over local decisions than they did in the past,” they wrote.

The “business model” schools are forced to adopt results in “haves and have-nots” among school districts, the principals said.

If the principals were really smart they would now take their complaints to the voters and parents in their respective school districts and explain the lack of support coming from Madison…they probably can’t directly challenge the candidates or involve themselves in the campaign in their official roles…but they certainly can make the facts known. And maybe the voters can shame the candidates in supporting education instead of knee jerk reactions to ‘tax cuts’.

What Are All Of Those Job Creators Doing With Their Tax Savings

Well they aren’t spending it on research and development or their companies’ futures or new job opportunities or anything of substance. As a matter of fact it seems that investment in research and development is heading for an all time low. Instead they think they can continue to cannibalize the market share of their competitors!

A new survey of manufacturers has found that almost a third of the companies spent less than 1% of sales on research and development for new products.

Nearly 40% of the 116 manufacturers surveyed across the nation viewed increased share in existing product markets as their top growth opportunity.

The survey from Sikich LLP, a Naperville, Ill.-based accounting and consulting firm, covered companies with annual revenue from $1 million to more than $100 million.

“Many manufacturers continue to adopt a cautious approach to growth. But while a focus on existing markets presents less risk, it won’t sustain manufacturers forever. Eventually, companies will need to become more aggressive and invest in new markets and products to drive differentiation and future success,” said Jim Wagner, the Milwaukee-based partner-in-charge of Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution practice.

Yeah, but I was told that all we needed to do was give more money to the ‘job creators’ and they would create jobs? What happened between the governor’s office and the shop floor?

Where Will He Sign The Budget?

Here’s a question for all of our erudite readers out there: What high profile private invitation only location will Governor Walker pick to sign the budget?

Scott Walker poised to sign largest budget in Wisconsin state history

This is for all those Scott Walker supporters out there who’ve deluded themselves into believing Gov. Walker is a fiscal conservative.

Yesterday rubber-stamp Republicans in the State Assembly sent the 2015-17 biennial budget to Gov. Walker for his signature, and it’s worth noting that budget is the largest in the history of the state of Wisconsin.

That’s right, the budget Gov. Walker is preparing to sign into law before he formally announces his candidacy for president represents the largest expenditure of taxpayer dollars in the 167-year history of our state.

The state Assembly sent the two-year $72.7 billion state budget to Gov. Scott Walker early Thursday, giving him just enough time to sign it before his presidential campaign announcement on Monday.

The budget passed 52-46, with 11 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposing the budget.

Because nothing says “fiscal conservatism” like a $72.7 billion state budget.

999: The True Number of the Beast

I haven’t had time to review all of this…and some of it was changed by the Senate…but most of this is hateful or spiteful…and none of it is budgetary. A number of posts here and around the blogosphere plus the major media has covered a point or two. But if you want to see the entire 999 amendment, then here it is!

I should be picking it apart but there just isn’t time!

Wisconsin’s awful, no good, very very bad biennial state budget

This Facebook post by Emily Mills sums up how I feel about the absolutely awful biennial state budget Republicans are working to pass.

Far as I can tell, the entire proposed Wisconsin budget is a steaming pile of garbage. But the tactic by the Republicans…

Posted by Emily Mills on Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Emily is exactly right that we (and by we I mean anyone who values clean & transparent government, the working class, public employees, education, environmental protections, and the poor) should be packing the Capitol full of protest and working hard to get the power-and-money-hungry Republicans who are working to enact these policies out of office.