Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Walker gaffes show lagging economy, Transportation deficit

Our fair governor gave a couple of taxpayer-funded campaign stops trips around the state to discuss the state's economy yesterday, and managed to drop serious gaffes along the way. And in this case, it really is the definition of "gaffe", where the person is actually telling the truth, but it makes him look idiotic and awful while doing it.

1. The first incident was in La Crosse, where Walker said the big reason for the state's skills gap was because blue-collar jobs aren't thought of as cool.
Governor Scott Walker said eliminating some of the stigma surrounding certain careers, like manufacturing, will help grow a skilled workforce.

The Governor made that statement Tuesday morning at a 7 Rivers Region economic breakfast at the UW-La Crosse Cartwright Center. Governor Walker said in all clusters of industry throughout the state, employers seek a common goal.

"One of the things they're looking for whether it's in Holmen, West Salem, Prairie du Chien or right here in La Crosse is employees," said Walker. "They need to have good, hardworking employees that are well-trained, well-prepared."
And does Scotty say they'll get rewarded with good pay for being a well-trained, well-prepared employee? Of course not! In fact, Wisconsin continues to be near the bottom for lowest weekly manufacturing wages in the Midwest, at $976 a week. You think if Wisconsin employers paid an average weekly wage that was $150- $200 higher, like they do in Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois, they might get a few more employees that want to take those jobs? You wanna blame someone, Scotty? Why don't you blame the CEOs you hang around with for being such cheap-asses.

Unfortunately for Scotty, he made these comments on the same stage with someone from the reality-based community in La Crosse, and Walker sounded extremely foolish as a result.
Walker, who is campaigning for re-election, didn’t arrive at the forum until after [UW-La Crosse Economics Professor Taggert] Brooks’ presentation. Brooks agreed with the governor that the state’s economy is on a “slow but positive” trend and said his research shows improvements in housing, lending and employment.

But some of Brooks’ data tempered the optimism. Wisconsin’s median annual income of $52,627 is about $6,500 less than the median income in Minnesota. In Wisconsin, 26.4 percent of residents have a college education, compared with 32.2 percent of Minnesotans.

Taking a humorous tone, Brooks acknowledged his wife is from Minnesota.

“Minnesotans are richer, younger, prettier, more educated,” Brooks said. “There — I said it.”
Hmmm, and Minnesota has marriage equality, light rail, a higher minimum wage, and an openness to entrepreneurism and outsiders in their business community. They've also added nearly 50% more jobs than Wisconsin has in the last 2 years. Interesting how those things are correlated, aren't they?

2. Walker's next gaffe when he was taking part in a WEDC Board meeting in Janesville, and admitted something I've been talking about for 3 months- the state is facing a massive shortfall in its Transportation Fund, and Walker is now looking for ways to fix it.
Gov. Scott Walker is looking for new ways to fund a state transportation budget that is projected to fall short by as much as $700 million by 2017.....

The Republican governor says a project to widen Interstate 90 from the Illinois border to Madison is still a priority despite the projected shortfall.

But Department of Transportation Secretary [Mark] Gottlieb says it is possible the $950 million project could be delayed if funding isn’t found soon.

Walker called the current method of relying on gas taxes for revenue unsustainable because cars are becoming more fuel efficient. He says his administration is looking at tax reforms to fund the department going forward.
Not relying so much on the gas tax is a sensible conclusion, because fewer miles driven and better gas mileage diminishes what'll be coming in, so it's better to find a steadier and possibly growing source. But one of the main options Scotty discussed in tackling the shortfall is to trade sales tax increases for income tax cuts (good luck on that, as we have a $600 million structural deficit in that fund as well), and then use some of the sales tax money for roads. You also know toll roads are on the table to pay for that Janesville project as well as others (and Mary Burke and the Dems should be screaming this. HINT!).

In addition, the admission by Walker blows away the argument that we had a surplus when we cut taxes earlier this year, because this Transportation shortfall offset it. And instead of responsibly paying for that shortfall with the one-time surplus, or reducing borrowing and debt expenses in future years, Walker took a page out of the George W. Bush school and blew it on tax cuts that are doing little to raise demand and the state's overall economy (they've already taken effect, in case you didn't know). Now the Walker Administration and the State of Wisconsin is stuck due to that reality-free decision, and we're going to be paying to make up the difference. Or we'll be dodging even more potholes than we this Spring. One of the two.

EDIT: Here's Rock County-based Lou Kaye with a righteous post pointing out that Walker's oligarch friends at Forward Janesville were all about the tax cuts and other giveaways when it benefitted them, but now that it's THEIR project being endangered by cuts, they want us all to pony up and "share the sacrifice." Classy, aren't they?


  1. Speaking of the structural deficit and transportation, I'm thinking of the Talgo lawsuit and of what happens if it succeeds in full. In that case we'd lose $65.9 million, plus have to scramble for $70 million to repay bondholders immediately rather than in due course, plus lose any claim to $52 million worth of trains.

    That's $187.9 million of cash and assets that could disappear from balance sheets in short order.

  2. Nice article. I feel that there should be a proper recruitment done by the HRs of the companies. Not just like the rest but it should be done in such a way that can attract people not only to apply for the job but start working even with fewer wages. Not all employees work for money, some work for experience and some work for security.

    Jimmie Menon
    Guelph Payroll Service