So we’ve already established that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is not trying to balance the budget or otherwise “fix” a deficit (see yesterday’s post). In fact, the bill itself is going to result in more funding problems, not less. Menzie Chinn shows us:
Another interesting implication for Wisconsin is that the transit systems would lose approximately $45 million in funds from the Federal government under Governor Walker’s bill. From “Walker proposal could result in $7.1 million cut in federal aid to Madison Metro Transit,” Wisconsin State Journal:
The state received $73.9 million in federal transit funding in 2010, including $22.5 million for the Milwaukee area and the $7.1 million for Madison, according to the memo.
About $27.3 million for the Milwaukee area likely would not be affected because Milwaukee County has a contract with a private corporation to run its transit services, the memo says.
But the remaining $46.6 million, including the funds for Madison, “could potentially be withheld” due to the governor’s proposal, it says.
This is because:
…federal law requires continuation of collective bargaining rights on wages, pensions, working conditions and other conditions to get federal transit money, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo.
The article observes “[t]he Walker administration did not respond to a phone call and e-mail.” regarding this issue.
Empirical question of the day: who [which income decile] relies the most on city bus systems in Wisconsin?
The bill stripping public employee unions of collective bargaining rights is a pure political power grab instead. But now we learn that the bill itself isn’t based on some sort of reasoning that opposes theses unions on principle. Instead, the bill appears to be pure and simple power pay-back at political opponents. It seems the bill exempts four particular public employee unions – the exact public employee unions that endorsed Scott Walker. As church lady might say, Isn’t that special! How conveeenient! From the WISC-TV newsite in Madison, Wisconsin:
Walker’s bill would strip state and local government employees, including teachers, custodians and game wardens, of their ability to collectively bargain everything except their wages.
But the measure carves out a special exemption for local police officers, firefighters and the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Critics said the move amounts to political payback for unions that support Walker and could create a schism between government workers.
During his campaign for governor, Walker was endorsed by the Wisconsin State Troopers, as well as the Milwaukee Police and Firefighters associations and the West Allis Professional Police.
In all, five public employee unions endorsed Walker, and four of the five are completely unharmed by Walker’s budget repair bill, WISC-TV reported. Walker has denied that the unions are getting political payback.
Apparently Governor Walker’s favoritism to unions who supported him isn’t being accepted very well. From the same article:
The executive board president of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association has issued a statement on the organization’s website expressing regret for the endorsement of Gov. Scott Walker in the governor’s race.
In a post dated Feb. 16, Tracy Fuller writes, “I am going to make an effort to speak for myself, and every member of the Wisconsin State Patrol when I say this … I specifically regret the endorsement of the Wisconsin Trooper’s Association for Gov. Scott Walker. I regret the governor’s decision to ‘endorse’ the troopers and inspectors of the Wisconsin State Patrol. I regret being the recipient of any of the perceived benefits provided by the governor’s anointing. I think everyone’s job and career is just as significant as the others. Everyone’s family is just as valuable as mine or any other persons, especially mine. Everyone’s needs are just as valuable. We are all great people!!” The full statement can be found at www.wlea.org. The executive board president of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association has issued a statement on the organization’s website expressing regret for the endorsement of Gov. Scott Walker in the governor’s race.
In a post dated Feb. 16, Tracy Fuller writes, “I am going to make an effort to speak for myself, and every member of the Wisconsin State Patrol when I say this … I specifically regret the endorsement of the Wisconsin Trooper’s Association for Gov. Scott Walker. I regret the governor’s decision to ‘endorse’ the troopers and inspectors of the Wisconsin State Patrol. I regret being the recipient of any of the perceived benefits provided by the governor’s anointing. I think everyone’s job and career is just as significant as the others. Everyone’s family is just as valuable as mine or any other persons, especially mine. Everyone’s needs are just as valuable. We are all great people!!” The full statement can be found at www.wlea.org.
So who’s really behind Governor Walker and his move to destroy collective bargaining for all but the those who support right-wing, Republican causes? The Koch Brothers. The same folks who supported the Tea Party movement with behind-the-scenes money. The same folks who funded opposition to healthcare. The same folks who own and make Georgia-Pacific paper products (might want to consider that on your next shopping trip). From Mother Jones (and many other sources):
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries’ political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess is Scott Walker.
According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.
The Kochs also assisted Walker’s current GOP allies in the fight against the public-sector unions. Last year, Republicans took control of the both houses of the Wisconsin state legislature, which has made Walker’s assault on these unions possible. And according to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Koch Industries PAC spent $6,500 in support of 16 Wisconsin Republican state legislative candidates, who each won his or her election.
It is important to note that the Koch Brothers are not just funding their favorite candidate as an expression of their voting preferences. They are also using their large wealth in deceptive and sophisticated ways to get around legal limits on campaign contributions. Those limits exist so that everybody has at least some of a fair shot at influencing politics. Note too, the Koch Brothers fund a lot “astroturf” organizations – organizations that are named so as to appear nice-and-who-could-be-opposed, but in reality are trying to do things only in the interests of a few folks who know that truth and transparency would be fatal to their cause. So why are the Koch Brothers funding Scott Walker and a lot of other right-wing conservatives and astroturf organizations? It’s about oligarchy. It’s about power for the rich and more profits. Which means in the end it’s about crushing the middle class. But I’ll tackle that subject in the next post here.