The Democrats Cut Education and Services, Relative Silence Ensues

beaver-cut-742551There is that old question about whether a tree falling in empty woods makes a noise.  Last Thursday, May 21, 2009 Wisconsin Governor Doyle got out his budget cut saw and began felling numerous trees. He has since passed the saw to the Democratic controlled Joint Finance Committee who are poised to finish the work.  Although many organizations and individuals were very vocal before the cuts were announced, there has been relative silence since.

Prior to the announcement of the budget ‘fix,” 65 organizations joined in an effort to convince lawmakers that new revenues should be part of the answer to state’s deficit.  Other organizations and individuals,  such as the School Finance Network and Paul Soglin and Barry Orton (and me),  sent similar messages.

Since the announced “fix” involving large cuts to core government services, there has been relative silence.  Maybe it is the shock of the  betrayal by Democrats who seem to have abandoned the principles of their platform.  Maybe it is misplaced loyalty or sympathy to elected officials who express regrets instead of glee as they cut away.  Maybe it is just the long holiday weekend.

Whatever the reasons, if this silence continues our elected officials will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there will be  no political consequences for their betrayal.

One notable exception to the silence comes from Ed Garvey at Fighting Bob.  He gets it almost exactly right:

Is there a difference?

OK, there is a budget shortfall. We know that; we know schools are under-funded; and local governments are have trouble raising money. So why would a Democratic governor cut school aid, lay off state workers, cut aid to local government, and threaten to cut more jobs unless the unionized state employees agree to reduce their pay “or else”? (No bargaining? Bad faith? You betcha. Is that how Democrats negotiate in good faith with the union? “My way or the highway?” Heck, Tommy treated state employees better than that.)

I don’t get it. Isn’t it time Jim Doyle opted to lead? Leadership in these tough times would require him to step on lots of Gucci slippers worn by the big campaign contributers. Time to announce that he won’t run so he can lead, or announce he is running as the governor who believes in fair taxes, good public schools, a respect for the bargaining process, an end to contracting out, and support for an increase in progressive taxes. (Did I mention public financing of campaigns?)

C’mon! Wisconsin Democrats cannot keep cutting just when working families need help. Tell the Neanderthals in the Legislature that there is a difference between the two parties. Lead or get out of the way.

I hope the coming days will bring more protests like Garvey’s.  I’ve got my own in the works , now posted on AMPS.

Thomas J. Mertz


Filed under "education finance", Accountability, Budget, Contracts, education, Elections, finance, Gimme Some Truth, Local News, Uncategorized

2 responses to “The Democrats Cut Education and Services, Relative Silence Ensues

  1. I just saw this response from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. Here is an excerpt:

    The budget cuts are likely to reduce the number of intake workers for public benefit programs at a time when caseloads and new applications are soaring and far surpass the ability of the current intake workers to keep up. Another concern is that it appears that the state plans to keep funding for W-2 benefits and services at the same level as two years ago, when the unemployment rate was half its current level, even though the economic stimulus bill provides 80 percent federal funding for increased W-2 spending.

    One source of great frustration for anyone who hopes to contribute to the public discourse regarding how to balance the budget is that the specific cuts and their consequences aren’t clear. It could be weeks or months before we learn how agencies will allocate the new 5 percent cuts they have been directed to make. Since some areas can’t be cut (because of federal mandates, for example), other areas will take much bigger hits. The same is true at the local level, and it will take even longer for local governments to decide where the deep cuts will be made in K-12 education, county human services, and municipal services.

    In the weeks ahead, we urge policymakers to create a transparent budget process, which enables the public to understand what’s being cut and what the alternatives are, including revenue options. The impact of the new cuts that are being proposed is likely to far surpass the negative consequences of the previously proposed cuts, and the public deserves to understand those impacts before policymakers finalize their budget-balancing choices.

  2. Pingback: A Lesson for Jim Doyle (and others) « AMPS

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