You can look it up

I’ve been reading the book Nofziger, about Nixon and Reagan administration political operative/spokesman Lyn Nofziger. And that makes me think that’s the job I want — to  be employed to get out the Republican Party’s story (which the media can choose to use, or not) instead of relying on the not-especially-unbiased news media.

The Walker administration appears to have taken a page from Nofziger by creating a web site, reforms.wi.gov, to measure what  it claims are the savings from the changes in public employee collective bargaining enacted earlier this year. The website even has a precise dollar figure — $460,844,146, as I write this.

The site is, as always, a mixture of fact and assertion, such as:

Honestly Balancing the Budget

Wisconsin faced a $3.6 billion deficit in January and now has a budget with a surplus. Moody’s (one of the national rating agencies) calls Wisconsin’s budget “credit positive.”

Unlike past budgets filled with raids on segregated accounts or one-time stimulus money, Governor Walker’s budget made structural changes aimed at the next generation, not the next election. …

Well, perhaps the budget is “credit positive,” but we won’t know until the end of the budget cycle whether the budget was balanced correctly — as in according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the honest measurement of finances, not on a cash basis. It remains insane to measure the fiscal health of an enterprise that spends more than $30 billion each year on a cash basis.

On the other hand, we do know the fiscal record Walker inherited — a $2.9 billion GAAP deficit, and GAAP deficits in every year in the 2000s, and sinking bond ratings.

Protecting Property Taxpayers

Schools and local governments across Wisconsin are saving money. Unlike other states that balanced their budgets with massive layoffs or tax increases, Governor Walker’s reforms protect middle class jobs and property taxpayers.

All across Wisconsin, local officials are able to hold the line on property taxes.

In order to balance the budget, without the reforms in Act 10 and the property tax controls in the budget, the average homeowner could have seen their property taxes rise by hundreds of dollars.

Some governments are even seeing a decrease in the tax rate. …

Being a Fond du Lac County resident, I checked the county on the interactive map, and I find:

Fond du Lac County

Taxpayers will save $300,000 due to Act 10 reforms, according to media reports.

Moraine Park Technical College

Taxpayers will save $670,000 due to Act 10 reforms, according to media reports.

Ripon Area School District

Taxpayers will save $600,000 due to Act 10 reforms, according to media reports.

The proof of that will be in the property tax bills arriving in the next month or so. We do know, however, that the only places where extensive layoffs occurred were in municipalities and school districts where public employees were not required to contribute more to their benefits, most notably the Milwaukee Public Schools. I’m not quite clear why large-scale layoffs are preferable to making everyone pay more for benefits like the people who pay their salaries have had to do for several years, but I’m not a supporter of teacher unions, you might say.

Improve Government

Schools and local governments can now hire and fire based on merit. They can pay for performance. They can put our best and brightest in the classrooms and workplaces. They can change insurance companies and adjust health plans to save money.  Without reforms, none of these were options for most school districts. …

These reforms allow government to improve customer service. They allow government to do the things it should do – and do them well.

What a novel concept — hiring and firing based on performance. (However, I will believe that when I see stories about teachers being fired for poor performance.)

Meanwhile, the  Democratic Party, the party of grotesque fiscal failure in the first decade of the 2000s, isn’t happy, reports their People’s Republic of Madison mouthpiece, The Capital Times:

The Party plans to file a complaint with the state Government Accountability Board Tuesday, claiming Walker is using taxpayer money for political purposes, according to party spokesman, Graeme Zielinski.

“It is political propaganda,” Zielinski says. “And for taxpayers to shoulder the burden for what is clearly a campaign website is ridiculous.”

The “campaign website” doesn’t refer to Walker’s 2014 reelection campaign, of course; it refers to the stupid effort to undo the Nov. 2 election, which didn’t treat Zielinski’s party very well.

This is where I claim to be shocked — shocked! — that politics is going on. Zielinski apparently didn’t see the state website when Walker’s predecessor, James Doyle, was governor. The entire governor’s website was a paean to the brilliance of Doyle and his lieutenant governor, Barbara Lawton. For that matter, check out the Department of Public Instruction‘s website, which reminds you:

Last fall, the DPI proposed “Fair Funding for Our Future,” to reform school finance in Wisconsin. The plan would move away from property wealth being the primary determiner for aid, instead providing a base level of state aid for every student. The “Fair Funding for Our Future” school finance reform package was not included in the 2011-13 state budget.

Nothing political in that paragraph, right? Right down to the bullet points, except that the bullet point “screw the taxpayer” is strangely missing.

Let’s recall as well that the Democrats’ response to the fiscal crisis they created was to (1) deny that there was a fiscal crisis and (2) propose fixing it by raising taxes. The Democrats’ response to Walker’s doing what he said he was going to do well before the election is to attempt to recall him. That, taxpayers, is what the Democratic Party and its apparatchiks think of you.

One thought on “You can look it up

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