Saturday, January 12, 2019

"Conservative" Robbin' Vos loves to bill taxpayers for GOP hackery

Here's a great example of how today's GOP really practices "fiscal conservatism." It's not a method of cutting expenses and having smaller, more efficient government, but instead is a method of directing tax dollars to themselves and their donors.

Note this story from this week that talks about Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos adding several positions to his staff at the Capitol.
Vos has used the new positions to hire: former state Rep. Joe Handrick, who served as consultant to Republicans as they redrew legislative lines in 2011; Heather Smith, whose experience includes serving as Walker’s Medicaid director; and Evan Bradtke, who worked as a senior policy adviser.
In fairness, Handrick drew up those maps so well that Tony Evers could only win 36 of 99 districts while he was winning the Governor's election statewide. So maybe he deserves some kind of payback for his role in keeping Vos' Republicans in charge of the State Legislature.

The rest of the new staff also comes at a high price.
Smith is classified as an administrative officer, a designation often used for legislative chiefs of staff. That position comes with a maximum salary of $104,316, which is what Smith is being paid, according to the numbers from [Dem Assembly Leader Gordon] Hintz’s office. Meanwhile, Vos created a speaker’s chief of staff designation that comes with a maximum salary of $126,720. Vos chief of staff Jenny Toftness is currently at $123,432.

Vos said Toftness’ salary is now more in line with what the guv’s chief of staff makes.

Altogether, Vos’ office payroll is now more than $800,000 even with the two positions left to fill. That works out to an average salary of $73,149.
Does this guy represent you? 'Cause you're paying for him.

That’s $800,000 in staff to work for ONE legislator. And Vos's reasoning for this expense? That he deserves this extra staff because Governor Evers has large amounts of staff.
Vos also rebuffed concerns he’s consolidating staff in his office to create a shadow caucus in an effort to counterbalance the Evers administration, noting that Gov. Tony Evers gets more than 250 direct appointments, while Vos is filling five vacant positions.
I didn't realize that Robbin' Vos represented more than 1 of the 99 districts in the State Assembly, nor did I know that the Assembly was in charge of day-to-day implementation of state policy (in case you're wondering, they're not).

This guy thinks that his role as Speaker means that he is the only person that matters in the Assembly, and that he and the “State Assembly” are the exact same entity. This bloated sense of self-worth is absurd enough, but it is especially a rich mentality because Vos and his fellow Republicans have constantly denigrated urban, Democratic-voting parts of the state as second-class citizens, and they have no interest in helping or governing those wide swaths of the state.
Assembly Speaker Vos seemed outraged at the nerve of Madison and Milwaukee for stealing the election. According to the Journal Sentinel, he complained that:
If you took Madison and Milwaukee out of the state election formula, we would have a clear majority. We would have all five constitutional officers and we would probably have many more seats in the Legislature.
The anti-urban campaign continued when Governor-elect Tony Evers began announcing his appointees. Because the first four were from Milwaukee, Vos renewed his attack, complaining, according to the Journal Sentinel, that “Gov.-elect Evers’ outreach plan to take applications from across the state was cause for optimism, which is why I’m so greatly disappointed that his top four appointments were from Milwaukee.”
And Vos continues to use state taxpayers as his and WisGOP's personal piggy bank. State Rep. Mark Spreitzer said that Vos sent a request this week to allow the GOP to use tax dollars to defend their gerrymandered maps. But naturally Robbin’ didn’t want this discussion or vote to happen in public.

These litigation expenses would be on top of the $850,000+ that taxpayers have shelled out to private lawyers to help WisGOP defend their 2011 gerrymander in court. And it could be more, but Vos' office refuses to release the contract to the public, claiming the public that's paying for this lawsuit has no right to know what they're paying for.

Wee Wobbin' Vos really needs to get over himself. Governor Evers should use his state budget to specify funding for the staffs for the majority and minority parties in the Legislature, and cut off the Legislature from using contingency funds in order to fund their partisan and arrogant legal actions. Make Little Napoleon defend his imperial, unaccountable acts to the Wisconsin taxpayers.

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