There is so much good stuff out there on what has been happening in Madison and around the state this week that I really don’t have too much to add. I will point toward the CAST Statement I helped draft, Rep Mark Pocan’s “Scott Walker’s Top Ten Lies” for a good fact check and Alder Brian Solomon’s “Madison, WI: A Prelude for Economic Justice” for some questions and context. I’ve been energized and filled with hope by the the rallies and protests this week, but like Brian I have concerns about the limits of the agenda being put forward.
That is why I want to try to focus attention on what comes next, the other shoe waiting to drop, Governor Walker’s Biennial Budget. It is going to be a giant shoe and we need to be ready to catch it and throw that one back too.
Throughout this, Walker has made it clear that the so-called Budget Repair bill is only a prelude to the Biennial Budget. The GOP talking points have been that destroying public worker unions is a way to give local governmental units (counties, municipalities and school districts) the tools to deal with the budget cuts that radical slashes to state aid, shared revenue and unprecedented limits on local control of revenues — all anticipated in the Biennial Budget — will bring.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the way to actually help local governmental units and the people of Wisconsin is to provide sufficient revenues. For more, see the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future/Wisconsin Council on Children and Families Catalog of Tax Reform Options for Wisconsin and of course Penny for Kids.
Scott Walker and the GOP don’t want you to know what is in the budget bill, they especially don’t want this information out there while the people are in control of the Capitol and paying attention. So, instead of releasing the Budget on Tuesday February 22 as scheduled, they have moved it to March 1. Whether in the Capitol or elsewhere, we all need to be paying attention and we all need to mobilize on this too.
There have been some hints and leaks about what will be in the Budget and it ain’t good.
- Video of Scott Walker on UpFront with Mike Gousha (property taxes discussed at about the 7:00 mark);
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Walker to gut MPS, break up UW, education leaders say” (more on UW and the Budget from Maxwell John Love) and “Bonds warns of ‘devastating’ cut for MPS under state budget“;
- Wisconsin State Journal, “School officials: Anticipated education cuts could be ‘devastating”
- Karl Loewenstein, Oshkosh Board of Education, “Oh Dear!! Cuts from Walker are going to be brutal!“;
- Larry Miller, Milwaukee Board of Education, ““Walker: By Targeting Public Employees He Intends To Soften The Public For The Bigger Kill (Education and HealthCare for the Poor)“:
- The Wisconsin Association of School Boards (via Bargaining for Benefits), “”Coming Budget Cuts in State Aid and Revenue limit Authority Will Be Deep“;
- Appleton Post-Crescent, “Wisconsin school administrators brace for expected cuts in state aid“;
- Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, “Wisconsin parents can lead the effort to stop billion-dollar cut in school aid“;
- Oshkosh Northwestern, “Local governments concerned state-shared revenue cuts may exceed cost savings Walker’s bill might offer“;
- Wausau Daily Herald, “Officials: State funding cuts could dwarf possible savings on benefits“;
- The Cap Times, “Public employee layoffs could be coming to the local level”;
- Reedsburg Times-Press, “State budget bill also could affect county“;
- WiscInfo (via the Retiring Guy), “Library leaders anticipate budget cuts amid increasing demand.”
What do we know from all this?
- Anticipated $900 Million in cuts to State School Aids.
- Unstated, but large cuts to shared revenue
- Talk of a hard cap in property tax increases equal only to growth in property wealth (se the video above), taking away the ability of local governing units to mitigate the cuts in state aid.
- Rumors of new refusals of federal aid, including Title I, a longstanding program targeted at the education of children in poverty.
- Hard times ahead for Counties, Municipalities and School Districts and all those who depend on them for services.
Geez — Title I. This is beyond insane. For me this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Everything else — tax cuts, aid cuts, revenue limits, union busting…– is maddening and insane, but refusing Title I is so stupid and so offensive that as Marvin Gaye said “It makes me wanna Holler, ” and scream and organize.
I know I’ll be marching in March and probably April, May and beyond (even though I should be campaigning for the District 13 seat on the Madison Common Council instead).
Who else will be organizing and marching isn’t clear at this point, but I’d guess if you contact/join the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, The Institute for Wisconsin’s Future, Progressive Dane, The Wisconsin Wave, Madison Area Urban Ministry, and the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, you’ll be in the loop and know when to lace up your marching boots.
Save the date.
Thomas J. (TJ) Mertz