Viewpoint: Walker?s leadership is costly for Wisconsin
“The Soul of Wisconsin is a sacred thing” are the words of poet Marijane Curry. The “Soul of Wisconsin” has a proud heritage of working together for the good of all citizens.
The “Soul of Wisconsin” has been bruised and battered by a governor who planned a “divide and conquer” strategy with billionaire Diane Hendricks, who donated $500,000 to Walker in 2011 (MJ). The strategy was to pit good, hardworking families, friends and neighbors against each other. Walker bragged about “dropping the bomb” (CT). Let’s look at the results in 2014.
1. Jobs lost as estimated: 200 (January); 9,500 (February); (Only NC reported more job losses.) 500 (May); 1200 (June) (CT/MJS).
2. Cuts to public education. Wisconsin and Alabama lead the US in cuts to public schools. Wisconsin’s spending is down $1,038 from 2008 (15.3 percent less). In the 2011-2013 budget, $1.6 billion was cut (BH/CT).
Local school districts are forced to cut services, raise taxes or both. These cuts are having a profound impact, especially on rural schools.
“By 2014-2015, Wisconsin taxpayers will have spent an estimated $1.8 billion sending students to private/religious schools.” (DPI) The total could be much higher.
All parents, regardless of income, who send children to taxpayer subsidized private schools receive tax deductions for each child – estimated cost: $30 million in 2014-2015.
3. Closing public schools. The Department of Public Instruction would have to issue a grade of “F” to at least 5 percent of the state’s schools, about 100, each year under a proposal in the legislature in 2014. Public schools would be closed or reopened as private charter schools with no local control. This proposal will be revisited in 2015 (MJS/KNews).
Please read the report by Gordon Lafer: “Do Poor Kids Deserve Lower Quality Education than Rich Kids? Evaluating School Privatization Proposals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”
4. Wisconsin’s increasing debt. Governor Walker issued new debt of $558 million to make payments for 2011-2012. This debt increases the amount of interest taxpayers will pay.
The percentage of general tax dollars for 2013-2014 to make current debt payments is the highest since 1970 – 5.26 percent of general fund revenues; $738 million in general fund dollars are being used for debt payments (MJS).
An additional $2.05 billion in borrowing was authorized in the budget (2013-2015) (CT).
No wonder the “Soul of Wisconsin” – yours and mine – is hurting. We deserve better.
Joyce Luedke, Hayward