Monthly Archives: June 2013

Senate passes budget on 17-16 vote, sending bill to guv’s desk

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June 21, 2013 Wispolitics

After approximately 12 hours of debate Thursday and a brief session shortly after midnight, the state Senate passed the biennial budget bill on a 17-16 vote, with Republican Dale Schultz joining Dems in opposition.

The bill was delayed until today when Dems made a procedural objection late Thursday that pushed passage past midnight.

The budget now goes to Gov. Scott Walker for possible vetoes and his signature.

The vote on passage came after the Senate voted down more than two dozen Dem amendments on issues ranging from school choice to Medicaid to taxes.

See the Budget Blog for more from Thursday’s debate:

Stay the Course

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Passage of the 2013-14 state budget bill was expected in the Assembly sometime today, and the Republican majority can demonstrate how far Wisconsin has come since voters in the 2010 elections awarded control of the governor’s office and both legislative houses to the GOP.

In the two and a half years since the transition took place, Wisconsin has gone from chronic multi-billion dollar deficits to a substantial budget surplus; from serial tax increases to tax reductions; from an out-of-control regulatory regime to a spirit of cooperation ready to help businesses navigate necessary regulations and still get things done.

And need we repeat that local governments, hostage to public employee unions as recently as two years ago, have been freed to save hundreds of millions of dollars previously vacuumed up by a union-owned insurance provider?

The budget bill offers a tax cut of nearly two-thirds of a billion dollars and an open door for future expansion of school choice. It’s a budget that should be popular with everyone except Democrats, and Republicans who long for the approval of Democrats, who will despise them no matter what.

Moreover—thanks to the fight waged over it—the GOP budget presents yet another opportunity to see exactly who stands with Wisconsin taxpayers and who just wants to bleed them. The bare-knuckle belligerence of many public school administrators shines a bright light on a political dynamic usually played out behind the scenes.

The Empire Strikes Back

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spaceshipGive Tony Evers credit for one thing: The State Superintendent of Public Instruction, which is the constitutionally-prescribed way of saying “the state’s chief educrat,” can spot trouble coming when it’s still a long way off.

Unfortunately, that’s about all Evers and the statewide public school bureaucracy get credit for in their campaign to head off school choice expansion. Let’s put it bluntly. Unable to defend the quality of its product, unable to make a respectable argument against parents choosing their children’s school, unable to advance any decent rationale for government enforcing an education monopoly, the public school empire resorts to the first and only tactic the Left can think of nowadays: Smear the competition.

As usual, Liberals find it scandalous when people who believe in a non-leftist idea support it financially. This time around, the smarminess of the attack on choice supporters contributing to Republican elected officials is enriched by the fact that the proprietor of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is an ex-PR hack for the Madison School District.

It’s disappointing that by the Legislature’s schizophrenic reasoning, freedom of choice in education must be expanded statewide, but must also be withheld from all but about one child per school district, and barely more than two in the budget bill’s second year.

But it’s possible to live with that, knowing the ludicrous caps can be lifted at just about any time by a Legislature with the backbone to liberate kids from the empire.

Tony Evers saw that coming before most others figured it out. And his empire’s self-defining hardball response may even hasten the arrival of the broader competition it fears most.

Schultz Snipes Again

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Rino_ZebraIt is well established that lesser individuals than Governor Walker, including some theoretically on the same side as Walker are eager for any opportunity to snipe at the chief executive in order to appear wiser and more important. All we can say to them is good luck with that.

The phenomenon was amply on display this past week in the second-guessing of Joshua Inglett’s ill-advised nomination to the UW Board of Regents, now, thankfully, on its way to footnote status.

With a little assistance from State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Dale Schultz), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Saturday tried to make the withdrawal of Inglett’s nomination seem mean-spirited and petty since, after all, Inglett signed the Walker recall petition back in 2011 but never bothered to vote, so no harm done, right? At least after reading it a couple of times, we guess that’s where they were trying to take the story.

But Schultz’s characteristic spin that the Governor blew an opportunity to “provide leadership and substance” by letting the nomination advance got us thinking. Our take is that leadership and substance were precisely what the Governor was practicing by unplugging the nomination: He was man enough to endure a minor embarrassment rather than try to save face by pretending the nomination was a good idea, which would have made things worse later on.

Ironically, by signing the recall petition and then failing to vote, Inglett proved himself both unsuitable as a Walker appointee, and an unserious person. The good news is Joshua Inglett still has time to grow up. For the self-promoters trying to make hay from Inglett’s misadventure, that bird has flown.

Not your father’s Democratic Party

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Some of us still remember when Democrats and Republicans actually held some important values in common. Sure, there were arguments, often bitter ones, over how to fairly divide the economic pie. But people on both sides tended to understand where the pie came from.

Then came the 1970s when we saw the hard-core Left, a movement built on hatred, complete its hijacking of the Democratic Party.

Products of that era still thrive in positions of authority, seeking to turn reality on its head by applying the kind of methods against which Republicans and Democrats used to stand shoulder to shoulder in opposition.

The latest perpetrator is Madison Mayor Paul Soglin who made explicit his intent to use taxpayer dollars to retaliate against businesses that fail to toe the Party Line.

A letter from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) protests the deliberate suppression of constitutionally-guaranteed liberties in Wisconsin’s great Progressive Tabernacle of civil liberties. Mayor Paul Soglin is himself an exemplar of the mobs who passed themselves off as civil libertarians back in the day.

Now Soglin is proposing a common council resolution that would force city contractors to disclose their donations to non-profit organizations.

In a pointed letter to Soglin, the Wisconsin Center for Law and Liberty (WILL) wrote:

On May 8, 2013 the Cap Times reported that you had introduced a Common Council resolution that, if passed, would require City of Madison contractors to disclose their contributions to advocacy organizations.  According the Cap Times, your purpose in introducing the proposed legislation is to expose and discourage contribution to groups supporting conservative causes. Even if this is not an accurate report of your intentions, you are actually quoted by the Cap Times as stating that the purpose of the proposed resolution is to curtail contributions to groups that hate government and try to make it less efficient.”

WILL’s letter went on to point out the obvious legal and constitutional problems with Soglin’s proposal. Not that any Dane County judges are likely to take issue with it.

We’ve written before about the Left’s Fascist cronyism. Soglin’s blood would boil, hearing the word applied to him. That’s tough. His actions define it.

Catastrophic Coverage

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Our headline takes on new meaning daily as the pernicious nature of Obamacare grows more difficult to disguise. The gradual revelation that in every respect, Obamacare will have the opposite impact our beloved leader promised, no longer rates as even a mild surprise.

And while litigating against Obamacare could be seen as a solemn duty, the courts are at best unreliable. In practical terms, there is no need to cite even one other reason why comprehensive Republican success in next year’s elections is an existential necessity.

By then, theoretically, the totalitarian monstrosity will have been fully in place for 11 months. But we can see how things are going. Implementation is a mess, and behind schedule. Tearing it down will not add too much more confusion even in 2015, and would be worth the trouble in any case. It’s that choice, or be prepared to rearrange every detail of your life. Start by calling your doctor to find out if he or she is planning to stick around for all the fun.

Examining the plight of a California landscaping business, last Friday’s Wall Street journal noted that if all 270 of its workers take employer-sponsored coverage and pay the maximum allowable 9.5 percent of premium costs, the company’s share will still wipe out its profits.Some politicians in Washington, D.C. might enjoy that, but the workers would soon be unemployed.

Their Corrosive Touch

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Let’s stipulate the obvious:  Intelligence programs designed to gather the information needed to thwart terrorist atrocities cannot, by definition be conducted in public view. Whatever we may hear next about secret data-mining of telephone records, it’s kind of important to remember no informant can be inserted to break up a terror plot whose existence no one suspects.

Alongside that reality stands another, that the potential for the activities of government to become abusive is ever-present. In the interest of guarding civic order and public safety, we accept that risk and maintain a Constitution to rein in the worst instincts of political officials.

So normally, citizens dislike government keeping statistics of who calls whom on the telephone but allow for the exigencies of protecting the nation when large numbers of people, abroad and within this country, are determined to murder Americans just because we exist.

The tripwire in that last sentence is “normally.” In addition to the terrorist threat, we confront the parallel abnormality of an administration that has amply demonstrated eagerness to abuse power. To believe these people will overlook the opportunity of using telephone records not only to preempt terrorists but also to manipulate the innocent is to believe that this time, they will deviate from their usual behavior.

The most insidious way in which the Obama administration directly damages this country: It renders reasonable people unwilling to trust government even to do things which we might otherwise acknowledge an absolute need.

Ten things that actually happened during the recall elections

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – June 5, 2013

If you’re reading this blog, then you are likely well versed in the gubernatorial recall election that gripped Wisconsin one year ago.

You know about the fourteen Democratic senators that fled Wisconsin in order to block a vote on Governor Scott Walker’s bill to scale back collective bargaining for public employee unions.  You know that while the Democrats were hiding in Illinois, Walker was prank called by a liberal blogger posing as one of the billionaire Koch brothers.  You saw the video of the camel walking around the Capitol square in Madison, slipping on the ice and getting caught in a retaining fence.  You remember the April 2011 Supreme Court election that looked like it had been won by liberal challenger Joanne Kloppenburg, only to have 7,000 votes miraculously surface in Waukesha County, handing incumbent Justice David Prosser a slim victory.

Most importantly, you remember that on June 5, 2012, Walker would win his recall election by a larger margin than he won in 2010 against the same opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  On CNN’s election night coverage, one Democratic voter was so distraught, he declared that “democracy died tonight.”  Following his concession speech, a female Barrett supporter even slapped the mayor for conceding too early.

As Prosser would say later, if you submitted the story of Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012 as a movie script, the film studios would reject it for implausibility.

Yet among all the big ticket media stories – legislators yelling “you’re f***ing dead” at each other, the harassment and threats directed at elected officials and the like – there are some wildly entertaining moments that even the most astute followers of the protests leading up to the recall elections will have forgotten.  While things moved at the speed of light at the time, now’s the time to reflect back on some of the lesser known moments of the Recall Era.

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