Recall Memo: June 5: Governor Walker Steals a Billion Dollars from Wisconsin.

In their Saturday morning coverage of the Recall Gubernatorial Debate, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel included this quote from Governor Walker:

Walker said the law change has led to savings for taxpayers – his administration has pegged those at more than $1 billion from workers having to pay more for benefits and schools being able to rebid insurance contracts.

“The facts are the facts. Our reforms are working and putting more people to work,” Walker said.

The governor’s administration has determined the savings to state taxpayers at $1 billion. I am not sure how accurate this number is. I imagine economists, statisticians, and political hacks could have a field day parsing this all out. And I am guessing that if the administration erred it was on the high side. Just a feeling that I have. But when these numbers get bandied about, there is always a flip side to the coin. If this is heads, let’s discuss tails! (and for sake of discussion I am using the billion dollar figure even though I know that not all of the ‘savings’ came from wage deductions. But just like the governor’s staff, I like the sound of it).

So, our state, county, municipal, and educational taxing authorities saved a billion dollars for taxpayers. This was simply through transferring their costs to their employees. Understood…not going to argue the value of this change here!

That’s HEADS, here’s TAILS:

That’s $1 billion not being spent at food and grocery stores all across Wisconsin.

That’s $1 billion not being spent at department and specialty stores all across Wisconsin.

That’s $1 billion not being spent at restaurants and bars all across Wisconsin.

That’s $1 billion not being spent at gasoline stations all across Wisconsin.

That’s $1 billion in deferred home and auto maintenance all across Wisconsin.

That’s $1 billion not being spent on cultural and recreational activities all across Wisconsin.

That’s $1 billion not being donated to charity, religious, or non-profits all across Wisconsin.

That’s $1 billion being cleanly stolen, right off the top of an already suffering economy in Wisconsin.

OK, wait for the irony:

AND that’s $1 billion that is no longer subject to state and federal income taxes.

AND that’s $1 billion that is not generating any state sales tax, gasoline tax or license and permit fees across the state of Wisconsin.


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25 thoughts on “Recall Memo: June 5: Governor Walker Steals a Billion Dollars from Wisconsin.

  1. And the Rethuglicans are all wondering why the Wisconsin economy is stagnant and has the worse job creation record in the country in the past 14 months! Last spring a UW political economist predicted precisely, within a few hundred jobs, that Act 10 would cost Wisconsin over 21,000 jobs.

    1. If you subtract out the retirements of selfish teachers who decided retirement is more important than education because God forbid they would pay their fair share toward health insurance and retirement like the rest of us common folk, yea…. those numbers may be close. He knows how his own people think…

      1. Steve- prior to act 10, teacher compensation was determined by a “total package” negotiation that included salaries and benefits, including who made the WRS contributions and was limited by the binding arbitration and QEO (qualified economic offer) laws. This means that any benefits, including WRS and health insurance, that were included in the package resulted in a dollar for dollar reduction in salary. So the teachers were already paying “their fair share”, and the act 10 changes were a simple salary cut.

  2. I recall a conversation I had with work colleagues from Milwaukee County many years ago. They said their County Executive, Walker, had proposed ridiculous budget cuts on the claim that he was saving the county money. The county greybeards took him aside and patiently explained that his cuts would not save money as they would cause the county to lose federal matching funds and undermine services that would cost the county more in the long run. They suggested other ways to save money. Walker just ignored their concerns. At that time I concluded that he was either too stupid to understand the complexities of a budget or lying when he claimed to care about saving money. He continues to follow the same pattern as Governor. Whether stupid or lying, he’s bad for Wisconsin either way.

  3. It’s also a one billion insult to all workers, saying their work is worth less than before.

  4. We are told that Walker begins each day praying to God for divine guidance. But I question if Walker is being answered instead by the “father of lies” who provides responses that satisfies the governor’s ego, pride, false conscience, cowardice, extreme ideology, and inadequate native intelligence. How can anyone who proudly admits to “dropping the bomb,” reveals having a secret strategy of “divide and conquer,” and whose many lies, especially that he campaigned on eliminating collective bargaining, be a man of peace, a man of truth, a man of competence, and a man of God? The fact is Walker is none of the above as evidenced by his conduct and recorded history of the past sixteen months.

  5. And the better follow-up is: What did we get for it? Our taxes didn’t go down, but our take-home pay sure did. The money literally vanished and went to go toward future tax breaks for rich people who don’t create jobs and don’t need the extra money.

    Gordon Gekko- “It’s a zero-sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money isn’t won or lost, it’s merely transferred.” And in this case, it went from people who work in Wisconsin to corporate slime who couldn’t care less about the fate of this place.

  6. Yep. I predicted this, too, with colleagues in state employment when the first cuts hit — Doyle’s fake “furloughs” that actually cut salaries by more than three percent for all state employees. (Fake because some of us were ordered to do no less work.) As the state is the single largest employer in the state, it seemed only logical that there would be a reduction in state income tax revenue . . . as there was; you can look it up and see the first decline in that stat.

    So when Walker hit take-home pay even harder for state employees, and then when that spread to many other public employees, the result again was entirely predictable.

    Not that the major media in this state pointed out any of this at any point, not under Doyle and not under Walker. Why in heck is this so hard to see?

    If another employer in this state with a workforce even anywhere near the size of the state as employer cut pay for more than five percent of the population (Doyle) and then came down with cuts three times as much for three times as many residents of the state, the media would have been all over it in predicting impact on the private sector.

    But somehow, demonizing us and destroying our family budgets (while also losing value in our homes, if hometowners, and our savings with interest-rate declines) made it okay — and, again, under both governors.

  7. Ed, great post…you’re right on the money (no pun intended) about the impact of Gov. Walker’s policies. Act 10 has had a tremendously negative financial impact on state employees, and the money I’ve seen cut from my take-home pay is money I could have spent stimulating our state’s economy.

    At the risk of self-promoting, I actually wrote about this issue last week.

  8. Don’t fret. The health care and insurance companies still got the $1 billion. It’s not like they’re raising their prices in order to take advantage, right?

  9. A billion from public employees, a billion from education, a bunch more from the poor, elderly, and disabled. Where did it go? It headed right out of Wisconsin in monster tax cuts to corporation. Wisconsin is now being subjected to vulture capitolism on a grand scale. You don’t create jobs if you don’t have money to create a market. If you are a small business you are feeling the results of Walker’s “Tools”.

  10. You forget to mention or realize that this billion dollars is the tax money of Wisconsin citizens… Tax money that could be used for every single one of those things on your list… You even say it in your first sentence!!! “Savings to taxpayers” You have completely contradicted yourself in this entire article. Unless you are saying that taxpayers do not spend money on any of those things on your list?? Or are you saying that state employees are more entitled to be able to spend money on those things??

    1. One last thing Steve…public employees are tax payers too and not all public employees are union members. Just sayin’, ya know?

  11. Steve…I was waiting for someone to bring up the subject about the billion dollars being saved…well first, I don’t think that very many Wisconsin taxpayers actually saved enough individually to come anywhere near that billion dollars…my taxes actually went up…the savings here is sort of like a coupon…I bought something with my coupon (tax breaks for rich cronies) when I bought the advertised item (abolition of public employee collective bargaining)…so Gov. Walker saved money by spending money…not exactly money in the bank.

    As for “Tax money that could be used for every single one of those things on your list… You even say it in your first sentence!!!”, no actually I didn’t say it in my first sentence, that is a direct quote from Governor Walker and you can guess how much I trust the veracity of a quote from our governor.

    But as I did say, no matter what the amount, the Governor’s budget stole money directly from the economy of Wisconsin and as long as the governor is using a billion bucks, that’s what I am using too!

    1. Your entire argument is stemming from the quote of Governor Walker in the beginning which relates specifically to benefits and rebids on insurance policies, not tax breaks for public, private, or cronies. Whether YOU said it, or it’s his quote… You are basing your entire argument on this “billion dollars”… So, If you do not agree with his statement, you have no argument. Not sure how your taxes went up, there is a tax freeze, that apparently does have some loopholes (for now), so you can talk to your local government about how and why they felt they needed to bypass the law…

      1. You don’t know how peoples taxes could go up? There is a limit on tax increases but hardly a freeze. I know exactly why/how they went up. And I have clearly said I am using the billion dollar figure because the governor is using a billion dollars…but the actual dollar amount is irrelevant…the reality is Act10 has sucked real dollars out of our state’s economy and reduced sales tax and income tax revenues to the state.

  12. @Steve… My property taxes went up… as did the amount that I am paying for having a technical college in my town. I don’t mind paying for education(although I have no kids in school to benefit) and those “Selfish Teachers” that you mentioned retired so that their hard earned retirement benefits that they have put away for 30-35 years don’t get put into the “General Fund” and get “Misappropriated” by our fine governor and his out-of-state cronies. Try reading the article and understanding the Real Facts before you open your mouth and prove yourself a fool. I am Disgusted by the closed door policies of our present administration and hope to see that change next week. I Love Wisconsin and I want it back…. for ALL of the people who call Wisconsin HOME.

  13. From what I have seen, he is cleaning house on those who are taking advantage of the system. Do some honest, hardworking state employees get caught up in the mix… Yes, and I have friends who are “suffering” from it as well. I hear them complain about the money they are being set back, (often inflating the number to make it look worse) and at the same time I am watching them go on vacation to Hawaii, buy a new car, etc… etc… Doesn’t look to me that it is hurting them that much.
    For those who will actually have to pinch pennies, I feel bad for them, but maybe then they will speak up against those who are probably costing everyone more than this mystical billion dollars. Maybe you have heard of the Madison bus driver that makes 6 figures? Also the prison guards, and I’m sure plenty others that are manipulating the overtime system to inflate their income so they can retire and bring in an insane amount of money in retirement. Who is the idiot who would include overtime pay in the number used for what us taxpayers will pay these people for the rest of their, and our lives??? It is no secret that in the past, you would kill for a state job, because you are set for life. Its time for it to stop. As a builder, I deal with a lot of them… Most (not all) of them are incompetent and lazy, and act like you owe them something, for doing nothing. For those who feel like they are getting the shaft by what Walker is doing, then speak up against the assholes who are spoiling it for everyone.

    1. Thanks for bringing up the Madison Bus driver that MADE 6 figures. I love that story because it shows how blatantly dishonest scott walker is and what a parrot you and anyone who uses that story is.

      He was paid that much because of hiring freezes and attempts to “shrink government” when there are not enough bus drivers to fulfill a need, the few they have, have to work overtime and thats what he did. A shitload of it. he was working sometimes 80 hours a week and in the end he still made less than Scott walker who we all know hasnt really worked in months.

  14. And I suppose you are going to tell me that Scott Walker used his cronie money to send a random 25 yr old prison guard to buy my car and tell me all about the nice little scam that they have to inflate their salaries. Being a young kid, he is left out of the loop, and is disgusted with what is going on. There isn’t a shred of BS that you can tell me that will change my mind. If you haven’t noticed, the climate has changed. People used to be scared to stand up to people that work for the state, because in many ways they are in control of our lives, and could make our lives (even more) miserable if they wanted to. The information about the bus driver was read in multiple articles that had nothing to do with Scott Walker. Nice try. See you at the voting booth.

  15. steve i didnt blame walker for that, although i do blame republican ideology. I said walker is being very dishonest when he touts it as a problem he tried to reform, to “reform” that problem we need to increase hiring in the public sector.

  16. Well, the dishonest practices, and dishonest people need to be dealt with first. Unions may or may not have their good point. Personally I do not see it. But they have protected trouble employees for too long. Be it the teacher that just doesn’t care anymore, but Is the highest paid in the district because of tenure. Or those who are manipulating the system for monetary gain. It has to stop. I could care less if they were a Democrat or Republican.

  17. My 2013 update :

    Real Estate taxes overall increased 7.5%
    School District increased……….26.1%

    Huge increase in new teachers and loss of experienced teachers in my school district with no thanks to Walker and his ACT 10

    My Social Security 2014 adjustment.+1.5% with thanks to President Obama.

    If I may borrow a dramatic line from Sir Charles Laughton from Agatha Christie’s, Witness for the Prosecution:

    Governor Walker, “,,,are you not in fact a chronic and habitual LIAR?!”

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