Thousands of protesters have been jamming the building daily, hoping to convince state lawmakers of the foolishness of Governor Scott Walker's plan to basically dismantle most public employee unions. It's a plan that moves the budget burden from those who can afford it, to middle class families. Not only is this incredibly unjust, but it's a recipe for economic disaster, driving down consumer demand as thousands of public employees are forced to cut back drastically.
With this as the backdrop, I give you a must-read editorial in Madison's The Capital Times:
[L]ike just about every other state in the country, Wisconsin is managing in a weak economy. The difference is that Wisconsin is managing better -- or at least it had been managing better until Walker took over. Despite shortfalls in revenue following the economic downturn that hit its peak with the Bush-era stock market collapse, the state has balanced budgets, maintained basic services and high-quality schools, and kept employment and business development steadier than the rest of the country. It has managed so well, in fact, that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently released a memo detailing how the state will end the 2009-2011 budget biennium with a budget surplus.
In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state's budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.
To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker's new spending schemes -- or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues -- the "crisis" would not exist.
So Scott Walker literally puts the state in the red paying back wealthy donors and cronies, then takes that deficit -- that he created -- and uses it as an excuse to screw working families. This isn't just wrong, this isn't just crony capitalism, this is corrupt. It may be legal corruption, but it's corrupt all the same. Walker is taking money away from working families, so he can give it to special interests.
There isn't a word that accurately describes how angry I am with this man right now.