March 06, 2012

Scott Walker’s Real Record – Promises Broken

By Melissa Baldauff, WisDems Research Director

Scott Walker lied about what he said he was going to do as governor.  That's why, instead of paying to challenge recall signatures, Walker is spending his millions of dollars in sleazy campaign contributions from bizarre out-of-state special interests on a costly media blitz in a shallow attempt to distract from his record of failure and dishonesty.
 
Scott Walker's latest ad, "Promises Kept," is a retelling of the same distortions and half-truths that Walker and his echo chamber have been pushing for months. Walker and his Koch Brothers-financed friends, Americans for Prosperity and the MacIver Institute, have spent millions to convince Wisconsinites that "Its Working," but with Wisconsin leading the nation in job loss - six straight months of loss – and a Republican Legislature more focused on banning birth control than providing economic relief for working families, its clear Its NOT Working.

  Walker's Lies vs. Wisconsin's Truth

Walker Lie Wisconsin Truth
1. We kept our promise to balance the budget. This is like saying we kept our promise to call the Legislature into session. Wisconsin law requires a balanced budget – its up to the administration and Legislature to do so in a way that cares for our citizens and respects our traditions. When Scott Walker was running for governor, he promised to balance budgets Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP); however, the budget he claims as balanced is anything but when using GAAP. By gutting public education to the tune of $2.6 billion and slashing more than $500 million from public healthcare, along with skillfully kicking the can down the road with accounting tricks that pass debt onto future budgets, Walker has given the appearance of a balanced budget. But when using the GAAP that Walker promised to use, Wisconsin's deficit will actually be more than $3 billion at the end of the biennium – a larger deficit than Walker inherited. And even with Scott Walker's funny math, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in February projected that Wisconsin will have a $143 million deficit by the end of the biennium. Chief among the reasons for the worsened outlook is Scott Walker's six straight months of job loss and failed economic policies that have created a projected $273 million loss in revenue. 
2. Didn't raise taxes. Scott Walker says he didn't raise taxes. If you are a wealthy corporation or a super-rich donor to Walker's campaign you might benefit from his $93.8 million tax cut for those who least need help. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau projects that Scott Walker's tax giveaways will cost Wisconsin more than $2.3 billion in lost revenue over the next ten years. Most of these losses are a result of changes in Capital Gains and Combined Reporting – which benefit the highest wage earners and largest corporations in Wisconsin. To pay for those giveaways, Walker raised taxes on seniors and working families by nearly $70 million. These increases include a $14 million increase by reducing the Homestead Tax Credit, affecting 247,000 homeowners and renters, and a $56.2 million increase on low-wage workers with children as a result of cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit. In addition to raising taxes, Walker's budget also increased fees by more than $133 million,$106 million of which came in the form of UW System tuition increases.
3. Protected jobs. Of all the bogus claims in Scott Walker's self-serving ads, this is probably the most ridiculous. Wisconsin has lost jobs every month since Walker signed his budget into law – six straight months of loss for a total of 35,600 lost jobs, even as the rest of the country was adding jobs. And that's not the end of the bad news for Wisconsin. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, which tracks economic indicators for each state and compare the states' economic trends, in December ranked Wisconsin dead last based on four state-level indicators: nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements. 
4. Public employees just started contributing to their health insurance and pensions. In Walker's ad he claims, "public employees now contribute to their health and pension benefits." While its true that Walker's so-called budget repair bill, which stripped public workers of the right to bargain collectively, forced through larger contributions for health insurance and pensions in order to offset drastic reductions to school districts and state aid to localities, the fact remains that public employees have always paid for these benefits. Wisconsin's current pension system is a defined benefit plan, which guarantees retirees a specific benefit amount each month. These benefits are funded 100% by public employees as a direct result of deferred compensation. The money placed into the state pension fund, where it is professionally invested in a large, cost-effective pool, is money that public employees could have had as part of their cash salary but chose instead to collect in retirement. So public employees aren't "now contributing" to their pensions. They've always paid the full cost and are now effectively being asked to take a pay cut.
5. We're putting money back in the classroom. Scott Walker slashed $2.6 billion from public education, so it's hard to believe there is more money in the classroom. What's added to the classroom are students, and what's been taken out are teachers and staff. Analysis by the Department of Public Instruction shows that Scott Walker's budget reduces the revenue limit per pupil by 5.5% in FY12, eliminates several revenue limit exemptions such as school nursing, pupil transportation, safety equipment, and funds for school security officers data and reduces nearly all categorical aids by 10%, in addition to eliminating some programs outright. Scott Walker's defense of his multi-billion dollar cuts to public education is centered on isolated examples that seemingly prove his "tools" are working. In reality these so-called success stories come as a result of record retirements, larger class sizes, reduced benefits and planning periods for teachers and staff, federal funding and a one-time savings from the increase in employee health care and retirement contributions that will not be available next year.
6. Increased funding for healthcare for seniors. With his more than $500 million in cuts to public healthcare, Scott Walker has had an abysmal record on funding healthcare for everyone, including seniors. Walker's budget proposed a $20 million cut to the successful SeniorCare program, which provides prescription drug assistance for thousands of low-income Wisconsin seniors, by raiding the program's surplus fund. The funding was only restored after legislative Republicans, in the face of overwhelming pressure from their constituents, broke ranks from Scott Walker. Scott Walker's budget also cut funding and endangered health care for the elderly by freezing enrollment for Family Care, a cost-efficient state program designed to keep the elderly and disabled out of nursing homes.In late December Scott Walker called a press conference to tout an apparent change of heart, stating he would work to lift the Family Care enrollment cap. Walker failed to mention that the federal government, who denied his waiver and instructed Walker to lift the cap and immediately enroll those waiting for the Family Care program, forced his change of heart.
7. No massive layoffs. Scott Walker's attack on workers' rights forced a number of public employees into early retirement, so its true that he didn't have to resort to massive layoffs of public employees. But the private sector hasn't fared as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in February reported that Wisconsin leads the Midwest in "mass layoff" events and initial unemployment claims. Nationally, only California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina reported more mass layoffs than Wisconsin. Scott Walker has upset the balance between corporate interests and the middle class. Instead of using state government as a tool to help people advance into the middle class and serve as a brake on unchecked corporate power, Walker has turned government into an agent that answers only to special interests. Pay cuts to public employees and tax increases on seniors and working families mean their purchasing power is limited in our communities. This clearly has a crippling effect on our state and local economies.

 

 
Comments

Posted by Pat at 11:50AM on March 08 2012:

I totally agree with Darcy. We need to send messages that counteract those nice shiny Walker commercials. Much as I’d like to see pictures of Walker with his pants on fire (like the guys on the insurance ad), I think a better approach, to capture the people in the middle, who haven’t taken a strong stance already, is not to be venomously negative but to point out in quick ads what Walker says he did, placed up against the actual facts, especially regarding the job situation. I think some people have the impression it’s only the public employees (especially teachers) who have been affected by Walker’s changes. I appreciate Melissa’s work and hope to use it for some editorial writing.

Posted by Darcy at 12:17PM on March 06 2012:

Great work! Now, figure out a way to make this into a 1-minute commercial focusing on “Issues important to Wisconsin’s future” – or maybe a series of 1-min commercials – and follow up with editorials in the major media. We might just get the independents to see through Walker’s lies and vote to send him packing in June. 46-48% are already on board with the recall – we don’t need too many more!

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