Thursday, January 24, 2019

WisGOP wants state's "prosperity" to continue? I wanna know when it starts!

I keep hearing Wisconsin Republicans try to claim that the new Democratic governor can't change the state's course, because things are going so great economically. GOP Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald was the one to throw out this theme today.
During the last eight years, our state has benefitted from tremendous success. Under Republican leadership, Wisconsin has seen more people working than ever before and our unemployment rate hitting historic lows – even falling below three percent for 11 months straight.

But that's not all – our budget is running a surplus, our pension system is fully funded, and we've invested more actual dollars into K-12 education than ever before. Our reforms are working, and Wisconsin is thriving.

Looking ahead, Wisconsin Republicans will work to make sure that all of these results are protected for the next generation, and that our prosperity can continue for years to come. We will fight to lower taxes on hard-working families, keep our state open for business, and make sure that Wisconsin is the best place work, live, and raise a family.

"Our prosperity to continue?" Doesn't something need to start for it to "continue"? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, released their final report for 2018 on average hourly wages in all 50 states this week. And Wisconsin ended up 43rd in the US for wage growth last year, badly trailing most of its Midwestern neighbors.

Change in average hourly wages, Dec 2018 vs Dec 2017
Ill. +5.6% ($1.53) (7th in US)
Minn +4.9% ($1.40) (15th)
Ohio +4.5% ($1.09) (19th)
Mich +4.0% ($1.02) (21st)
Iowa +2.8% ($0.67) (39th)
Wis. +2.2% ($0.56) (43rd)
Ind. +1.2% ($02.9) (48th)

Another recent BLS report showed the jobs picture for December 2018 for all the states. Wisconsin fared much better here, with the 2nd best year-over-year rate of job growth in the Midwest at 1.64% (at least until it’s inevitably revised down by the “gold standard” Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages).

But unfortunately for Scott Walker and WisGOP, the strong increases in Wisconsin jobs for November and December were too late to affect the 2018 elections, and those 2 months didn’t come close to making up the massive Walker jobs gap. That was reiterated through a chart from Marquette Law School’s Charles Franklin that made the rounds again this week, which showed how Wisconsin (in red) had typically kept around the national rate of job growth (in blue). Until the Age of Fitzwalkerstan started in 2011.

That underacheiving record and its associated pro-rich corruption sure helps to explain why Scott Walker and the GOP lost every statewide race in Wisconsin in November, despite outspending Tony Evers and other Dem-associated interests by $23 million for the Governor’s race.

In addition, anyone reading this week’s Marquette Law School Poll can see that strong majorities favor Dem policies such as expanding Medicaid, adding funding to public schools, and raising the minimum wage. That’s despite the MU Poll’s typical Republican-leaning sample (R+2 this time), and at least 55% of moderates favored the Dem position in all 3 of those questions.

Those realities are why Governor Tony Evers has a stronger hand than it may look on the surface. Even though that same MU Poll found a majority of Wisconsinites approving of the State Legislature’s job in general, and thought the state was going in the right direction (in a related story, a majority of Packer fans like the Matt LaFleur hire and hope it works out), people oppose what that GOP Legislature wants to continue. Because the average Wisconsinite knows that we are not prospering like we should, and that things can and should be improved.

If Evers and other Dems in the Capitol portray themselves as the backers of the policies the people want, they can get more done in these next 2 years than many think. But this will require Evers to use his powers as governor to push ahead with certain agenda items instead of giving in to calls for “bipartisanship” and submitting to the handcuffs of the Lame Duck Laws. (HINT!) In addition, Evers and Dems are going to make a lot of effort to shine a spotlight on how the GOP Legislature is ignoring what the people want, and shove back on the media if they try to play the GOP-favoring “false equivalency” game.

That’s not a pretty and uplifting picture, and it won’t make state politics a lot of fun in the coming months, but this is the mess we have been put in during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan. It’ll take a lot of work to drag us out of the ditch the last guy left us in.

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