Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker appears to be a clone of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Both are are leading their states in a downward slide of economic devastation, where schools find it more difficult to educate, the roads become havens of potholes and health care dries up for those with few resources.
Brownback has been leading a five-year crusade to create a state that shows that lower
taxes and trickle-down economics can lead to economic prosperity. Only it hasn’t worked. The promised growth has been disappointing, with the state’s gross domestic productivity increasing only 0.2% compared with the national average of 1.6%. As the New York Times editorialized June 9:“State revenues dwindled along with job growth. Budget deficits ballooned. Education funding plummeted, and the state suffered multiple credit downgrades as Mr. Brownback played the mad doctor of supply-side economics.”
Finally, however, Kansas voters have wised up. Recently legislators bolted from Brownback’s no-budget increase policy to call for a budget boost of $1.2 Billion, even overriding a Brownback veto. The governor had lost much of his support for his failed policies in the last election when a dozen of his most ardent supporters were ousted from their legislative seats.
Gov. Walker’s single-minded quest for “no tax increase economics” has plunged Wisconsin into a similar abyss. Wisconsin schools are continually being robbed of funds, while Walker argues that school districts are able to make up for the drop in aids, thanks to the “benefits” of Act 10 that freed them from dealing with teachers unions and gave districts a right to cut teacher salaries and benefits (with larger class sizes). This anti-education policy can only lead to disaster, since Wisconsin employers are constantly pleading for more qualified workers and that won’t happen with out a good school system.
Similarly, Wisconsin’s highway program is being starved with Walker’s refusal to entertain gas tax increases or license fee boosts. Ongoing highway projects — with their accompanying road delays and detours — are being threatened for delays or postponements while potholes wreak havoc on the front ends of our cars and trucks. Walker’s only answer now seems to be a hare-brained scheme to charge tolls to out-of-staters or to rob funds from other state programs, most of which help the poor and needy.
Meanwhile, his conservation policies are threatening our wetlands, our clean water needs and our wildlife. That’s hardly a wise course for a state that relies upon its lakes, rivers and the Great Lakes as lures for one of its best economic resources: tourism.
There are signs that even the most conservative of Republican legislators may balk at Walker’s “no-tax-increase” policy, with many favoring a gas tax increase, for instance.
Sadly for us Wisconsinites, the six years of Walkernomics have proven to be a disaster; the promised new businesses have failed to materialize as Wisconsin remains among those states with the poorest record of job-creation. (Note: Walker can honestly boast of a drop in the unemployment levels, but that has been accomplished as the state stagnates in population growth and in wage levels.)
While there are encouraging signs in the Republican legislature of resisting Walker’s failed “trickle-down” policies, it’s a good bet the conservative leaders in both houses will not go far enough in turning back this trend toward turning Wisconsin into a backwater state without a good future.
The answer lies in the 2018 election when voters will speak again. Maybe they’ll show they’re no longer going to be fooled by Walker’s backward economic thinking, just as the voters in Kansas have shown. – June 9, 2017