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Walker’s Two-Year Budget Shows Repair Bill to Be Trojan Horse

The reality of Scott Walker’s two-year budget is setting in, and people have begun to connect the dots. The reason Walker needs to gut collective bargaining now is because he’ll need to silence state and local workers’ voices when he guts their pay later. That’s the only way you can have the municipalities and school districts absorb over $2.5 billion in cuts without any gaps in service. When Walker says he wants to give the local governments the “tools” they need, he means to cut their take-home pay. You can call it increases in health care or pension contributions or whatever else, the end result is a cut to take-home pay. What’s more, he wants to shift responsibility for those cuts to the local communities, making them the bad guys.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny Thomas said Tuesday that Gov. Scott Walker was shifting the state’s budget problem to local government with his biennial budget plan […]

“What I see is he’s really just pushed the burden down” to local government, Thomas said. The county might be faced with tough decisions on layoffs, furloughs or local service cuts if Walker’s state aid cuts are passed by the Legislature, said Thomas, the vice chairman of the Milwaukee County Board’s finance committee.

And that’s not all; despite repeated suggestions that he doesn’t want to engage in layoffs, Walker’s budget would shift 17,000 workers off state payrolls by splitting off UW-Madison from the UW system, leaving them to fend for themselves. And to top it off it cuts $125 million from the UW-Madison budget and an an additional $125 million from the rest of the UW system, which will unquestionably result in a double-digit increase in tuition. And it outright eliminates another 4-5,000 jobs.

And, 55,000 people could lose their health insurance under BadgerCare. For no reason whatsoever.

Despite trims in eligibility and other rules governing the state’s Medicaid programs for low-income residents, state spending nevertheless would rise by $1.2 billion, largely to make up for reduced federal funding over the next two years. Walker’s budget says the spending would rise some $500 million less than it would if his restrictions and efficiency moves weren’t done.

This is why the budget repair bill gives authority for Medicaid and BadgerCare over to the Department of Health Services, so these cuts can be implemented. The entire budget repair bill is a Trojan horse to centralize power.

“We’re broke,” would be the reply here from Walker. But at the same time he’s balancing almost the entire budget on the backs of public employees and schools (some fun with numbers here; he uses an annual number for the cuts to local governments and school districts, and the two-year number for the overall budget deficit), he’s cutting capital gains taxes almost entirely, capping property taxes a la Prop 13 in California, and adding to revenue to spread out the sacrifice.

The first read in the local press is not good for Walker:

Municipal, county governments targets of large cuts in Walker’s budget
Budget cuts would touch most Wisconsinites
Budget would cut health care spending, reward business investment
Education, local government bear the brunt of $1 billion in cuts in Walker’s first budget
Budget would strip state education funding by $470 million next year
Wis. Governor: Ax $900 million from education
Wisconsinites uncomfortable with the pain of budget cuts

Walker really wanted the budget repair bill done by now, so these headlines wouldn’t come out in the midst of a fight to strip public employees of their rights. The truth will out.

…did I mention that Walker’s budget would also eliminate a state recycling mandate and gut environmental laws protecting safe drinking water?

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David Dayen

David Dayen