Sunday, August 16, 2020

How Walker's "leadership" in Wisconsin continues to hurt our state in 2020

With the DNC Convention coming up, there is likely to be a discussion about how things are going in Wisconsin, even if there isn't likely to be many events in Milwaukee. And you can bet that one guy trying to get a lot of face time will be former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker as a "local GOP voice" to counter what Dems will be saying this week. What talking heads should know is that in the last week, we've seen 3 different items that show how Wisconsin continues to be damaged from Walker's 8-year Reign of Error.

Let's start with the state's continuing lag in paying unemployment claims, which has kept tens of thousands of Wisconsinites from getting benefits for several weeks after COVID-19 shutdowns led to unprecedented layoffs. As this Fox 6 report from Milwaukee shows, you can go back to the Walker era and his GOP minions in the Legislature to see that a lot of these problems emerged due to past neglect.

Marilyn Townsend, Dane County attorney focusing on job-related issues, and Victor Forberger, labor and employment attorney, say the root problem is a familiar face. Former Governor Scott Walker says his unemployment reforms cracked down on fraud and gave people incentive to work, but Marilyn and Victor say the system is now too complicated. Their clients' claims are delayed or denied over things like student status, confusion over work search requirements, questions about jobs they held last year, and accusations of fraud when they make honest mistakes.

"They've made mistakes because the system is indecipherable," said Forberger.

"The system is not built for problems, and when people don't fit into a particular black and white question and answer, they are kicked out, and they are trying to figure out, how do I get my money?" said Townsend.
So what does Walker have to say about the mess he helped cause? Not too much beyond asking the state to pay money it doesn't have.
FOX6 News asked Walker for an interview. His spokesperson sent a statement calling for more staff to process claims, saying, "Governor Walker's reforms were aimed at lifting people off the unemployment rolls and into a job."

FOX6 News had a lot more questions, but Walker's camp wouldn't answer. We also asked Republican legislative leaders to weigh in. They did not respond, leaving the Department of Workforce Development to figure out where it can streamline without the Legislature.
(PS- How does Scott Walker have a spokesperson when HE DOESN'T HAVE A REAL JOB? And who's paying for that hack?)

Like many things with Walker, he tried to ignore taking any real action to deal with the looming problems in the state's unemployment system, and instead used lame poses like being "tough on fraud against people of color", which created more barriers that Wisconsinites have to deal with.

Another example of this is how Walker hastily borrowed a plan ahead of the 2018 elections to deal with the numerous problems happening at the state's juvenile Corrections facility at Lincoln Hills in northern Wisconsin.

But Scotty never put aside much money to get these regional (aka "Type 1") facilities built, only $25 million. $80 million was set aside in the next budget that the GOP Legislature and Governor Evers worked out, but it was still less than what was called for, and pushed some of the burden down to the local level.

With local governments lacking funds after the COVID-19 recession hit, and no real idea on how to close Lincoln Hills beyond Walker's words of "it'll happen", that plan may be imploding.
Dane County pulled out of an agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to build new youth detention centers Friday, which could halt the state’s plan to close Lincoln Hills youth prison by 2021....

The memo outlined a number of concerns that fueled the county’s decision to cut ties with the program. Those included county operating budget concerns due to COVID-19, uncertainty surrounding any related funds from the state, the lack of developments on new regional juvenile correctional facilities to house youth offenders currently at Lincoln Hills once the center is closed, and unease about the lack of commitment to overall juvenile justice reform necessary to make a new system work correctly....

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said he was worried the county would become financially beholden to the state and required to accept serious juvenile offenders in a facility that isn’t equipped to house them if Lincoln Hills closes before regional Type 1 facilities are opened across the state.

“What we’re seeing is a lack of follow through, for one thing,” Parisi said of the state’s promise to close Lincoln Hills, the troubled juvenile detention facility, in 2018.
And while Scotty was underfunding his pre-election plans for prisons, he was more than happy to set aside billions in tax handouts and infrastructure for Foxconn 3 years ago. As Wisconsinites questioned why so much money was being gambled on this foreign company with little show for it before November 2018, Foxconn said they would team up with the state's flagship university to try to make people feel better about the scam.

Flash forward to August 2020, and like a lot of things involving the Fox-con, this hasn't worked out like the public was told it would.
Foxconn Technology Group gave no money to UW-Madison over the past year, renewing questions about the company’s commitment to its $100 million pledge to the university nearly two years ago.

UW-Madison received $700,000 in the first of a five-year agreement — less than 1% of the company’s overall commitment. Records show the university has received no additional money in the second year of the agreement.

Foxconn critics say the Taiwanese technology company has failed to live up to its promises, pointing to UW-Madison's struggle to secure what it was promised as just one example. UW-Madison and Foxconn announced “the largest research partnership in the university’s history" in August 2018, with Foxconn committing $100 million to help fund a new UW-Madison engineering building and company-related research.

The master agreement signed by UW-Madison and Foxconn, however, does not specify a dollar figure, instead stating broadly that the company “intends to make a substantial investment in research and other activities” with the university.
Today, UW-Madison is forced to make budget cuts and may have to make up an additonal $150 million in this school year due to a lack of state funding and a lack of other revenue in the time of COVID-19. Think they could have used some of the hundreds of millions of dollars used to upgrade highways by Foxconn and not have to waste time and money to meet one company's needs?

So when Scott Walker comes down from his donor-owned condo in Milwaukee and tries to get his goofy mug on TV, I'm hoping Wisconsin Democrats and news media are ready to ask ex-Governor Dropout why America should continue to mimic the GOP's methods in Wisconsin, when Walker and WisGOP left this state in such a mess after 8 years of their "leadership".

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