In case you missed us …

The latest “Sunday Insight with Charlie Sykes,” which includes me sitting on the far stage right, can be viewed here.

Marketplace Magazine: Gone but apparently not forgotten. (At least they spelled my name right.)


Had Nov. 2 turned out differently

I have written, because it is undeniably correct, that this summer’s Recallarama is occurring because Democrats, public employee unions and their apparatchiks want to undo the Nov. 2 elections because, well, they lost.

It is not, as I wrote last week, because the aforementioned triumvirate of transgressions believes Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans pulled a fast one on the voters in enacting changes to public employee collective bargaining. The unions knew in plenty of time that that was what Walker intended on doing, because Walker said so, more than once, and to the state’s biggest newspaper more than once.

The unions want you to believe it is out of their concern over state budget cuts, even though the state budget itself increased 7.6 percent. But as I wrote last week, the discerning voter should believe nothing the aforementioned axis of error says in their campaign ads.

Since Recallarama is all about Nov. 2 and what’s happened since then — because of the horror of creating more jobs in May than the rest of the country combined — it is instructive to ponder what would have happened if Tom Barrett had defeated Scott Walker and had Democrats retained control of the Legislature. (I’ll pause until your shudders stop.)

The MacIver Institute has fought through the shuddering and pondered exactly that scenario:

Our analysts consulted with the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau as they went through the amendment packages line by line. Their findings: If the Assembly Democrats’ twelve major packaged amendments to the budget bill had passed, Wisconsin would be looking at a $1,779,098,700 spending increase. …

The first overt increase in spending was proposed in Amendment 4, titled the Education Package. The package would have increased spending by a total of $1,271,709,900. The largest proposed spending increase would have restored $1.2 billion in general education equalization aid. Interestingly, the Democrats attempted to use a familiar accounting gimmick, common in previous Wisconsin budgets, to make this look like only a $349.6 million spending increase. Assembly Democrats attempted to shift $897.4 million of this increase onto the 2013-2015 budget. The amendment as proposed did not reflect this but the Legislative Fiscal Bureau provided this detail. Regardless of the timing, Assembly Democrats attempted to increase spending by $1,271,709,900. …

Amendment 7, the so-called Tax Fairness Package, would have increased taxes on capital gains and manufacturers by $356.3 million. It also attempted to restore $56.2 million for the earned income tax credit and $13.6 million for the homestead tax credit. Critics classify these programs as welfare spending even though they contain the word “tax” in their title. These credits would give “tax refunds” to people who don’t pay taxes to begin with. …

In their package on Healthcare, Amendment 9, the Democrats attempted to remove the enrollment cap on family care, a move that would have cost the state an estimated $290 million over the biennium. The Democrats also attempted to stipulate that $466 million in unspecified cuts made by the governor’s bill could only be made through efficiencies. This was an attempt to maintain current services, remove eligibility restrictions, and not increase cost sharing by enrollees. …

Their Environment Package, Amendment 12, proposed an increase in the bonding allowance of the land stewardship fund by $234 million as well as to the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) by $12 million. The total proposed bonding increase was $246,000,000. These increases would have cost the state $2,980,000 in principal and interest payments over the biennium. The Joint Finance Committee’s budget bill did not zero out these bonding allowances. The bill only decreased them from $86 [million] to $60 million per year from fiscal year 2011-12 through 2019-20 for the stewardship program. The amendment also increased aid for recycling by $26 million over the two-year period. This brings the total spending increase to $28,980,000. …

As it was passed by the legislature, the new state budget erased the structural deficit and is scheduled to leave the budget $300 million in the black.

However, had the Assembly Democrats been successful in their attempts to amend the budget,  the plan would have left the state with a $1.4 billion deficit going into the 2013-2015 budget deliberations.

Increasing spending by $1.7 billion to create a structural deficit of $1.4 billion while raising taxes by $356.3 million two years after increasing taxes by $2.1 billion — that is what voters avoided by voting correctly Nov. 2.

It should be pointed out that the MacIver Institute did not double-count — that is,  “If a specific spending proposal was included in more than one amendment, we only counted the spending once.” On the other hand, it could be argued that Democrats introduced some of the amendments as political theater instead of policy proposal — introducing amendments they know would lose to be able to charge that those evil Republicans cut recycling aid and money for assistant district attorneys.

It should also be pointed out that these amendments were in reaction to the governor’s proposed 2011–13 budget as modified in the budget process by the Legislature. My guess is that, given the Democrats’ horrid record in fiscal management, had the Democrats been required to create their own budget, it would have been, in fact, worse than what MacIver identifies. That’s what happened in the 2009–11 budget, proposed by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, passed by Democrats and then made about 0.017 percent less fiscally irresponsible through Doyle’s vetoes.

The actual 2011–13 budget and the budget repair bill that cut back public employee collective bargaining, Democrats claim, gut education and various other of their favorite government services. That’s their version; the Weekly Standard has the actual truth:

But as the abstract debate over collective bargaining collides with reality, it is becoming clear just how big a lie the Big Labor line was. Now that the law is in effect, where are the horror stories of massive layoffs and schools shutting down? They don’t exist​—​except in a couple of districts where collective bargaining agreements, inked before the budget repair bill was introduced, remain in effect.

In Milwaukee, nine schools are shutting and 354 teachers have been fired due to a drop in state funding and the end of federal stimulus funding. But if teachers there agreed to the 5.8 percent pension contribution, the school district says it would rehire 200 of those teachers. (Other changes could offset the rest of the layoffs.) …

The only other district seeing such massive layoffs is Kenosha, where 212 teachers will be fired this year. “Kenosha is in the same boat as [Milwaukee], with a collective bargaining agreement signed before Walker took office that lasts until June 30, 2013,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on July 16. “But most other Wisconsin districts have avoided layoffs and massive cuts to programs.”

That includes, voters in the 14th Senate District, the Berlin school district, which closed its elementary school in Poy Sippi. Contrary to what voters are being led to believe by the latest inaccurate left-wing political ad, the closing of Poy Sippi was decided before the 2011–13 state budget was finished. And, reports WLUK-TV:

“We explored a number of different options,” said Bob Eidahl, the Berlin Area School District Administrator.

Eidahl says the district wanted to balance its budget with minimal impact on students.

“This was a decision that we really wish that we didn’t have to make, but financially it was the best alternative for us at the particular time,” said Eidahl.

The 70 or so students who previously would have went to Poy Sippi will now be bused about 20 minutes to Berlin’s elementary school.

“No one had layoffs,” said [teacher Hargrave. “Everyone will have a position there, or throughout the district, so that’s a huge positive.”

Neither the state’s finances nor the state’s taxes are where they need to be yet. But the state would have been worse off had not voters fired Democrats left and, well, left Nov. 2. And the state will be worse off if voters vote for Democrats in the Aug. 9 and 16 recall elections.


Presty the DJ for July 25

Today in 1964, the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” hit number one and stayed there for 14 weeks:

Today in 1973, George Harrison got a visit from the taxman, who told him he owed £1 million in taxes on his 1973 Bangladesh album and concert:

Birthdays start with Mark Clarke of Uriah Heep …

… born one year before Verdine White, who played bass for Earth Wind & Fire:

Ken Greer played guitar for Red Rider:

One death occurred today in 1995: Charlie Rich:

A variation on covers today: They’re not the same song, but people think they have the same title, and one singer put the two songs together: