What Wisconsin Democrats seek to undo

Tony Evers’ campaign for governor and every Democrat’s campaign for the Legislature is an effort to undo everything that has happened in this state since the 2010 election.

First (not necessarily in chronological order), Act 10, of which M.D. Kittle writes:

Gov. Scott Walker knows he has a tough campaign battle ahead against Democrat opponent Tony Evers, superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction. 

But Walker, a two-term Republican who has survived three gubernatorial contests in nearly eight years (including his unprecedented victory in the 2012 recall election), says he can beat Evers and the predicted “Blue Wave” if his campaign focuses on the success stories of his tenure. 

The campaign will surely point out the positive impacts Walker’s landmark Act 10 reforms of 2011 have had on Wisconsin taxpayers. 

As MacIver News Service has reported, the public sector collective bargaining reforms have saved local and state governments well north of $5 billion. Most recently, MacIver News reported on new numbers from the state Department of Administration that show Wisconsin school districts alone have saved more than $3.2 billion in benefits costs, thanks to Act 10. 

What hasn’t been as widely known or appreciated – until now – is how much money taxpayers in Wisconsin’s 422 public school districts have saved through a key Act 10 provision that opened up bidding to new insurers for the first time in years.

Once effectively locked into no-competition contracts, districts have largely moved to more taxpayer-friendly health plans, ultimately freeing up more money for education.

Act 10 also changed expectations. No longer would the entire burden of ever-escalating premiums be placed solely on the backs of taxpayers. 

Public employees are required to contribute at least 12 percent of wages to their health care costs. That provision has delivered huge cost savings to taxpayers.

Before Act 10, 43 percent of all school districts in the state paid their employees’ entire premium on single plans. That number has dropped to 6.4 percent, according to the latest data. 

“(School Districts) were able to use our reforms in bidding on health care insurance and making other changes, and asking for reasonable contributions for health care premiums for insurance that is far better, more generous for these employees than many employers have in the state,” Walker told MacIver News Service this week on the Vicki McKenna Show. “Our reforms put more actual dollars into state aid to our schools than ever before.”

Evers last year joined a crowded field of Democrats running for governor promising to work toward repealing Act 10.

The Republican-led biennial budget for 2017-19 includes record education spending, including a $639 million increase. Evers early on called the budget a “pro-kid budget.” He stopped calling it that after he declared his campaign for governor. The superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction doesn’t much care for Walker referring to himself as the “education governor.” 

Evers has pledged to make the “largest investment in early childhood education that our state has ever seen.” He also wants to see the state pick up a larger share of education funding. Such pledges, it appears, would require a huge infusion of tax dollars. 

Walker said results-driven education budgeting isn’t just about spending, it’s how you spend. 

“We do believe in education. That’s why I am the education governor,” he said. “I just believe it should go in the classroom to generate positive results for our students because they are the ones who are going to help us build the workforce of the 21st century.” 

One of the biggest things “the education governor” did was expand private school choice, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported earlier this year:

Private schools, most of them faith-based, continue to flock to Wisconsin’s taxpayer-funded statewide voucher program that serves students outside of the Racine and Milwaukee school districts, according to new state data.

According to the state Department of Public Instruction, 222 schools have signed up to take part in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, an increase of 68 schools from this year and nine times the 25 that enrolled when the program debuted in 2013-’14.

School choice advocates celebrated the numbers, saying demand for the program remains strong.

“The more people find out about the program, the more popular it becomes,” Jim Bender, School Choice Wisconsin, said in a statement responding to the data.

The Journal Sentinel story then said:

Public education proponents voiced concerns that the program diverts funding from public schools, many of which are already strained by declining enrollments, which limit state funding, and revenue caps that control how much they can levy from taxpayers.

“The more schools are added to the Choice program, the more it continues to shrink the overall piece of the funding pie everyone gets,” said Kim Kaul, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance of Rural Schools.

“We are now funding around 700 schools out of the same pot of money we used to fund 424 schools.”

Maybe Kaul and said alliance should ask themselves why parents are choosing to not educate their children in public schools. (Some are doing something about that, such as creating new programs, in response to private schools’ opening within their school district boundaries.) Kaul’s argument could also be made for every other case of government spending, as in spending for schools insteadf of health care, or schools instead of roads, or schools instead of environmental protection, or anything else favored by some interest group. The goal should be to educate kids, not educate kids only in public schools and make their parents pay twice for their education.

Speaking of paying, there are the several tax cuts passed since Walker has been in office. None were supported by Democrats. Apparently Evers must have figured out he was behind in the race because he came out magically with his 10 percent “middle class” tax cut, of which no specifics have been forthcoming. Anyway, what Evers says about taxes is not believable given that he has laid out plans to increase taxes by between $4.5 million and $7.2 billion.

(Evers claims he can increase school spending by $1 billion and not increase taxes. He has not said what he plans to cut to reach that $1 billion.)

There was also the $100-per-child tax rebate early this year and the sales tax holiday in early August, neither of which were supported by Democrats.

Walker also made Wisconsin the next to last state in the U.S. to approve concealed-carry. Evers claims he doesn’t want to change the law, but his party has a difference of opinion, and there is no doubt a Democratic governor and Democrat-controlled Legislature would not change CCW, but end CCW.

There is also Foxconn, about which Democrats have been lying for months even though they’d be dislocating their shoulders patting themselves on the back had they gotten Foxconn. Foxconn, remember, receives no money from the state until those 13,000 jobs get created. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either mistaken or lying.

These and other things have happened to benefit this state (like record low unemployment and, finally, wage growth) during the past eight years. Voting for Democrats means that everything you have read here goes away in the next four years, replaced by, once again, the tyranny and thuggery of teacher unions and the destruction of this state’s economy by the environmentalist left. That is the bottom line of Nov. 6.

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