Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Wis ranks well in Best States, but it isn't due to Walker or WisGOP

As our Fair Governor let us know, US News and World Report came out with their "Best States" survey, and Wisconsin fared pretty well overall.

That 11th place standing was good for 3rd in the Midwest, behind Iowa (#1) and Minnesota (#2). Here is the link to show how Wisconsin measured up, not only for the main categories, but for the sub-categories that went into determining the overall numbers. However, I have a warning- you might be stuck in there a while, as there are a lot of ways to slice and dice up those rankings.

And as I looked into those figures, all of a sudden, Wisconsin didn't look so impressive. Especially on figures related to our state's economic competitiveness and infrastructure, as I tweeted to others earlier today.

In fact, in many of these statistics, we were doing even better before Walker took office. This includes the rate of people without health insurance (7th in 2010, 9th in the survey), HS graduation rate (2nd in 2010-11, 6th in the survey), and violent crime rates (11th in 2010, 20th in the survey).

And one item that sounds good for Wisconsin in this survey doesn't end up looking so good when context is added. In the Best States survey, Wisconsin is 4th in the nation having a high number of women working vs men working. However, Wisconsin is 32nd in the nation when it comes to the pay gap between men and women. By comparison, Minnesota is 11th and Illinois is 27th, which would seem quite related to the problems Wisconsin has in attracting young, talented people compared to the states that have the Twin Cities and Chicago in them.

As you go through this list, it is obvious that items Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP have done nothing to improve the items we do poorly on (or acted too late in caring about, like with Internet infrastructure). But the items that Walker takes credit for, like the strong pension fund or the high level of Wisconsinites with health insurance, were things Wisconsin already was good at before Walker and WisGOP took power in 2011.

And when it comes to items like voter participation and social supports and the low number of Wisconsinites with food insecurity, Walker and WisGOP sure seem to be doing what they can to have us fall further down the US News list. If the voters of this state are stupid enough to keep them in power past November, you’ll likely see us slide into mediocrity on those measures as well.

So as usual, while Scott Walker might want to talk up Wisconsin's strong rating in some statistic or survey, he's cynically not telling you that he and WisGOP's policies have had little to do with those strong ratings. And he conveniently leaves out the many areas where we are falling further behind in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, with no hope of getting better as long as he and his Koch/ALEC errand boys are in charge.


  1. Thanks, Jake, for this analysis. I'll add that Iowa ranked #1 and Minnesota #2. Here's the response from the MN governor (as quoted in the Star Tribune): “This study reaffirms what Minnesotans have always known: Our state is one of the very best places in the country to live, work, and raise a family,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a news release.

    “However, we have more work to do [to] build an even better Minnesota.”

    See that. He wants to work to get "even better." No boasting or grandstanding or taking credit for the hard work of others. That'd be Scott Walker's M.O.

    What happened to Wisconsinites, people who used to take pride in real accomplishment and diligently went about improving the quality of life in the state?

    1. What happened to Wisconsinites? A combination of blue-collar workers gaining nothing over the last 35 years, and a whole lot of poison being pushed their way on AM radio.

      But it is telling that Gov Dayton wants to get better, while Walker and so many WisGOPs are more than happy to settle for mediocrity (or worse) as long as they get to be in charge of it.

  2. I laugh out loud every time Walker takes credit for our state pension system. It's been solvent for decades. He would turn it into a 401k if he could. Frankly, I am surprised Walker and the Republicans haven't dismantled the pension. It has to be on their wish list.

    1. Walker absolutely tried to mess with the pension system in 2012. He got an "independent report" to analyze the system, and the report came back saying...."YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND IF YOU MESS WITH THIS."

      That got Scotty to back off. But don't think for a second they wouldn't consider selling it off to some financier or using any excess funds to plug budget holes.

      And given that the pension fund will be over 100% funded after a strong 2017 in the stock market, keep your eyes peeled for such shenanigans.

    2. It's worth noting that it's been tried before. Tommy was blocked by the Supreme Court after an insanely long case as I recall. *Involuntary shudder*

      There was talk, early in the Doyle administration too, but I don't think JimmyD ever seriously considered trying it.