The state of the state, including the truth

M.D. Kittle reports on what Tony Evers said Tuesday night:

In his first state of the state address Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers painted a bleak picture of a Wisconsin floundering in failure, a state gripped by poverty, and hopelessness plaguing the average home.

In other words, the Democrat created an alternative universe.

He had to. The reality — record-low unemployment for the better part of a year, surgingpersonal income, more good-paying jobs than there are people to fill them — wouldn’t do for a liberal governor pushing a grow-government agenda.

Evers certainly wasn’t going to give his predecessor, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, or the Republican-controlled Legislature any credit for the state’s prosperity and manifold successes.

And while he preached cooperation and bipartisanship, he did so with a noticeable it’s-my-way-or-the-highway tone that turned off a lot of the people across the aisle he’ll have to work with if he wants to accomplish anything but saying no.

“…(T)he state of our state is that we’ve got work to do, and we’re ready for bipartisan solutions,” Evers told the joint session of the Assembly and Senate.

Missing from his progress report was the fact that the new governor has inherited an economy that has created eight straight surpluses, including the latest coming in at $588 million.

“Governor Evers takes over at one of the most prosperous times in state history. Thanks to Governor Walker and Republicans, Wisconsin is in a better place than it was the last time a Democrat controlled the Governor’s Mansion. No matter how he spins it, our economy is in great shape,” said state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) in a press release following Evers’ speech.

“Our economy doesn’t need fixing, it needs fanning,” Darling added.

Glossing over those positive facts, Evers plunged headlong into the despair narrative, lamenting a state that is among the “worst to raise a black family,” a state that spends more on corrections than “the entire UW system” (he forgets to note, however,that the higher education budget in Wisconsin from all funding sources is four times more than corrections).

He poo-pooed the surplus, and the fact that said surpluses have been created even as Republicans have cut state taxes by a combined $8.5 billion over the past eight years.

“The strength of our success is not found solely in fiscal surplus; it’s defined, too, by the number of our kids who will go to school hungry tomorrow,” Evers said, adding to his too-many-left-behind narrative.

And then he went beyond spin into fuzzy math.

“We are a state that was the birthplace of BadgerCare, and we’ve been a laboratory for democracy. But today, we are also a state where it’s become cheaper to get health care by driving across the Mississippi River,” Evers said.

It appears the governor is hanging on to the left’s blind love for all things Minnesota, and a key talking point from his campaign. It’s all part of Evers’ lambasting of Republicans for refusing to take the many-strings-attached federal money to expand Medicaid in the Badger State. Talk is cheap, but Minnesota’s Affordable Care Act bills aren’t.

The Minnesota myth, promoted by left-wing groups, fails to take into account how much taxpayer cash the Gopher State had to pump into the system to prop up Minnesota liberals’ full embrace of Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion.

Minnesota faced the fourth-highest premium spikes in 2017,expected to increase by a staggering 59 percent, as opposed to Wisconsin’s 16 percent hike. As a result, Minnesota was forced to come up with $300 million to bail out 123,000 struggling Minnesotans who did not qualify for federal Obamacare subsidies.

But Evers used the old Minnesota chestnut to make the case for a signature piece of his agenda and upcoming biennial budget proposal: Medicaid expansion.

“This would also save Wisconsin taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, allowing us to reallocate those cost savings to other critical programs,” Evers said, skipping past the mandated 10 percent the Badger State will have to kick in for all that “free money” and the connected red tape that has driven up health care costs in so many states.

Declaring that it’s time to “stop playing politics with our health care,” Evers announced he would play politics with health care, instructing liberal Attorney General Josh Kaul to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. Former Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel helped lead the 20-state suit. Last month a federal judge declared Obamacare unconstitutional, a ruling that was immediately challenged.

While he hammered home the need for the political players in Madison to find common ground, Evers laid out an agenda long on liberal policy and payoffs to political pals.

The new governor pitched another task force to deal with Wisconsin’s “transportation funding crisis,” a “crisis” bought and paid for by the road-building lobby. Evers pointed to his Department of Transportation secretary nominee, top road lobbyist Craig Thompson,who has suggested increased gas taxes are on the table, allowing his old friends to grab a bigger share of taxpayer cash.

“I appointed Secretary-designee Craig Thompson because I know that he will work on both sides of the aisle for a solution that works for Wisconsin,” Evers said. “I fully expect that he will be approved with consent of the Senate.” A number of fiscal hawks in the Senate have concerns about the lobbyist at the helm of the state transportation budget.

There appears to be lots of spending ahead in the first Evers budget, which the governor says he’d like to roll out in early March (Republicans are giving him a deadline extension to the end of February). There’s a proposed five-fold increase in mental health programs for K-12 students; an “unprecedented $600 million” increase in special education funding; the return of two-thirds state funding committed to K-12 schools.

It’s all about connecting the dots, the Democrat said.

Darling said there’s a disconnect in the governor’s message.

“The governor talked a lot about connecting the dots, but didn’t connect his ideas to how he will pay for them. He talked a lot about bipartisanship, but so far, his only answer to the legislature has been ‘no,’” the senator said.

Evers eschewed bipartisanship again when he outright rejected an Assembly Republican middle-class tax cut plan. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) dubbed it the “Tony Evers Middle-Class Tax Cut” plan because it closely resembles a proposal the governor campaigned on. But while the Republican plan would deliver targeted tax relief to the middle class using $340 million of the state’s surplus, Evers’ proposal calls for paying for his tax cut by getting rid of the popular manufacturing and agriculture tax credit.

“So instead, we’re going to fund tax relief for hard-working families by capping a corporate tax credit, 80 percent of which goes to filers making more than $1 million a year,” Evers said, spinning the facts once again.

The tax credit led to the creation of 42,000 jobs between 2013 and 2016, according to a University of Wisconsin study. More than 88 percent of tax credit recipients in 2017 were small businesses with incomes of less than $1 million — not the kind of big corporate interests the left would lead taxpayers to believe.

“More than 10,000 employees of all different sizes took advantage of the MAC (in 2017), and that has allowed them to invest more in their businesses, their workers and their communities,” Scott Manley, senior vice president of government relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, said in a statement last year.

Neither Evers’ plan nor the Assembly Republican tax relief package talks about trimming government expenses to help fund the tax cut.

After all that, the new governor said he expects legislation arriving on his desk passed with “broad support and in the spirit of bipartisanship.”

State Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) said Wisconsin is in great shape thanks to Republican reforms over the past eight years. It’s now the Legislature’s job, he said, to continue to make good fiscal decisions and remain a “watchdog.”

In other words, the battle lines are being drawn in divided government in the Badger State.

“I was hopeful Governor Evers would come to his senses and work with the legislature to return this surplus to the hardworking taxpayers,” Kapenga said in a press release. “However, after his address tonight, it’s pretty clear that he is more interested in returning to the failed tax and spend policies of the past.”

Now the reality, from Dan O’Donnell:

My fellow Wisconsinites, the state of our state is strong. Not because of anything the man delivering this year’s State of the State address did, mind you.

It’s quite the opposite, actually.

The state of our state is strong because of the man he defeated and the men and women he is now pledging to oppose. The state of our state is strong because of the policies that he is promising to undo.

In fact, my fellow Wisconsinites, the best thing Governor Tony Evers can do to keep the state of our state strong is absolutely nothing. If he wants to keep Wisconsin moving forward, he can take a backseat to a Republican State Legislature that has presided over unprecedented growth.

Naturally, he won’t, but it will behoove him to at least consider how strong Wisconsin has grown over the past eight years.

The state ended the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year with a $588.5 million budget surplus and a whopping $1.53 billion in its General Fund. By way of contrast, Wisconsin ended the final year of Democratic Governor Jim Doyle’s tenure in 2010 facing a $3.6 billion budget shortfall and ended the 2009-2010 Fiscal Year with only $71.0 million in the General Fund.

Doyle’s policies were so disastrous for Wisconsin that what had been $835.7 million in the General Fund at the end of the long tenure of Republican Governor Tommy Thompson dropped a staggering 82 percent in just ten years.

When Governor Walker and the Republican Legislature took over in 2011, though, the state’s financial picture immediately brightened. Wisconsin had a budget surplus in each of the past eight years, and after eight years of Republican rule the state now has $320.1 million in its “rainy day” fund—190 times higher than the $1.68 million with which Governor Doyle and the Democratic Legislature left it.

Negligent mismanagement of Wisconsin’s finances forced the Democrats to hike taxes by $3 billion in Governor Doyle’s final biennial budget, but after eight years of Walker and a Republican Legislature, the tax burden on Wisconsinites has declined by a staggering $8 billion.

Not coincidentally, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate rose from 5.5 percent in December of 2002 (the month before Doyle took office) to 8.2 percent in December of 2010 (his last full month in office) and then dropped to 3.0 percent in Governor Walker’s last full month in office this past December.

That was the fifth straight month of 3.0 percent unemployment after state-record lows of 2.8 percent in April and May.

At no point during Doyle’s governorship did unemployment drop below 4.3 percent.

Because so many more people are working than when Doyle left office, Wisconsin’s total general purpose revenueshit $8.48 billion in 2018, compared with $6.09 billion in 2010 (even though the tax burden on individual Wisconsinites was much higher).

In 2010, Wisconsin’s poverty rate was 13.0 percent and approximately 733,000 people lived below the state’s poverty line while an additional 983,000 lived close to it. By 2018, though, the poverty rate was down to 11.3 percent and the total number of people living in poverty dropped to 639,564.

And not only are more people out of poverty after eight years of Republican reforms, people are making more money.

New MacIver Institute research finds that “Wisconsin’s private-sector wages grew on average by 5.7 percent in the first five months of 2018, according to Census Bureau data. That compares to 2.7 percent for the entire U.S. Last year alone Wisconsin median household income rose more than $1,000 to about $59,300, according to the Census Bureau. The state averaged a 3.6 percent increase in earnings, compared to the national average of 2.8 percent.”

By literally every indicator, the state of our state is infinitely stronger today than the last time a Democratic Governor was in office. And our state can remain strong if its new Democratic Governor recognizes what has worked for the past eight years and what failed for the eight years before that.

Governor Evers is now calling for what amounts to a return to the Doyle economy as he proposes the same bloated spending that will lead to the same confiscatory tax hikes that already led Wisconsin to the brink of ruin.

Yet today, the state of our state is strong, and if Evers wants to keep it that way, the best thing he can do is simply step back and let Republican policies strengthen it even further.

Evers got bad news Wednesday, reported by The Cap Times:

A legal analysis prepared Wednesday by a legislative attorney says Gov. Tony Evers does not have the authority to order the state’s attorney general to withdraw from a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, despite Evers’ declaration on Tuesday that he would do so.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, requested the memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau after Evers announced in his State of the State address that he had sent Attorney General Josh Kaul a letter directing him to pull Wisconsin out of the multi-state lawsuit.

According to the memo, Kaul can only withdraw the state from the lawsuit with the approval of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

Last year, then-Gov. Scott Walker authorized then-Attorney General Brad Schimel to join a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Obama-era health care law.

Evers and Kaul both campaigned on a promise to remove the state from the lawsuit, but Evers’ power to do so without legislative approval was removed in a set of laws passed by the Republican-led Legislature after he was elected. A federal judge in Texas ruled the ACA unconstitutional in December, but it is still being enforced as the lawsuit is appealed.

Addressing the Legislature Tuesday evening, Evers said he had sent Kaul a letter instructing him to pull out of the lawsuit.

“I cannot continue to allow the use of taxpayer resources toward a lawsuit that could undermine the health security of the people of the state,” Evers wrote in a letter that was hand-delivered to Kaul on Tuesday.

In the letter, Evers said he is “immediately withdrawing the authority provided” by a section of state law that previously allowed Wisconsin to enter the case.

According to the LRB analysis provided to Fitzgerald, the statute Evers cited addresses the governor’s ability to request the attorney general join a lawsuit, but not the authority to withdraw. A separate statute — changed in the recent lame-duck session — previously allowed a governor to authorize such a withdrawal, but under the changes approved in December, the attorney general can only exit a lawsuit with the approval of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

Asked about the memo Wednesday afternoon, an Evers spokeswoman said she had not seen it yet.

When said spokeswoman did, the Wisconsin State Journal reported:

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers Wednesday walked back a vow he made to withdraw the state from the Affordable Care Act lawsuit less than 24 hours after making the commitment in his first State of the State address.

“The governor has not directed the attorney general to take any specific course of action, he has simply withdrawn his authority for this lawsuit,” Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in a statement.

Evers’ reversal comes after the release Wednesday of a memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau that splashed cold water on Evers’ plans to withdraw Wisconsin from an ongoing multi-state lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ACA.

The memo, sent to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, states there is no legal way for the new governor to fulfill his campaign promise to withdraw the state from the suit.

“There is thus no provision … allowing the governor to request, require or approve the attorney general to compromise or discontinue an action,” LRB attorney Sarah Walkenhorst wrote. “It is only the Joint Committee on Finance that has the authority to approve any compromise or discontinuance of an action in which the attorney general’s participation was requested.” …

Under previous law, Evers would have had the authority to withdraw the state from the suit. But that all changed after Republicans in December passed their controversial lame-duck law, which eliminated the governor’s ability to remove the state from lawsuits without legislative approval. …

Kaul after the State of the State address declined to provide detail on if and how he would withdraw the state from the lawsuit, except to say that the Department of Justice would remain consistent with the law.

 

Ejecting the Axis of Evil

Two years ago, the Washington Times reported on New York and New York:

State secessionist movements are long shots at best, but New Yorkers pushing for a breakup between the Big Apple and upstate are counting on the very real possibility of a constitutional convention to boost their odds.

Voters will decide in November whether to hold a statewide constitutional convention in 2019, thanks to the New York State Constitution, which allows for such an event every 20 years.

It’s a rare opportunity that the Divide NYS Caucus hopes to seize.

“It’s time to cease fantasizing that NYS legislators have the best interests of the people in mind,” the caucus said in a statement. “If we vote YES on the NYS convention, the first step in our plan to form autonomous regions is complete.”

The caucus wants to lift upstate New York’s struggling economy by reorganizing the state into two or even three independent regions. Such a division could be accomplished at the convention without the approval of the governor or the state Legislature.

“It’s the only thing they can’t control,” said Divide NYS Caucus chairman …

A Siena College poll released May 24 found 62 percent of those polled favor the convention, while 22 percent oppose it, although two-thirds have heard “nothing at all” about it.

Even so, convention supporter Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor at State University of New York at New Paltz, described “con con” advocates as “underdogs.”

“The issue right now is whether the advocates can finance a serious campaign,” Mr. Benjamin said. “They’re getting their resources together. Right now I think we’re the underdogs on this. I think we have a chance, but we’re underdogs.”

That’s because the opposition is formidable. Organized labor and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans already have launched campaigns urging voters to nix the convention, warning that delegates would have the power to gut public pension benefits and collective bargaining rights.

“Delegates to a possible convention can essentially blow up the way of life New Yorkers enjoy and the expectations and priorities each of us have,” said Paul Pecorale, vice president of New York State United Teachers. “Whether it’s public education, collective bargaining, our retirement security, environmental protections, spending caps in the budget or any other issue one cares about, it’s all at risk.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he supports a constitutional convention while also expressing reservations about how it might look in practice.

“I think the governor has calculated the political consequences of his ability to influence the Legislature, his ability to stay in a positive relationship with the organized labor movement and also his presidential ambitions, and he’s decided to back away,” said Mr. Benjamin. “He hasn’t denounced the idea, but he hasn’t given it the emphasis that, in the past, he has done.”

If voters approve the convention in November, a year later they would select three delegates from each of the state’s 63 senatorial districts and 15 at-large delegates. Any amendments passed at the convention would go before the voters for final approval in November 2019.

Even though the constitution allows for a regular convention, New York has not held one since 1967, when the state Legislature called it. The last one called by voters was in 1938.

For upstate advocates of a split state, the convention may come as their best chance to pull off a Brexit-style departure from New York City.

The Divide NYS Caucus several years ago hit on the idea of forming autonomous regions within the state that would be led by their own governors and legislators instead of seeking approval from the Legislature and Congress to form a new state.

“It could be a model for other states, too, to go to the regional-districts method,” said Mr. Bergener, the Divide NYS Caucus chairman. “This way you only need an amendment to your state constitution.”

The goal is to improve the economic prospects of upstaters, who complain that the state’s high taxes and onerous regulations have scared away jobs as companies flee to states with more business-friendly climates.

In December 2014, Mr. Cuomo declared a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, effectively halting any natural gas development stemming from the rich Marcellus Shale in the state’s southern tier and fueling secession talk, including calls for the region to split off and join Pennsylvania.

“What it amounts to now is more taxes are gained in New York City and that money is sent upstate, but they put so many strings attached to it that it hasn’t been helping,” said Mr. Bergener. “So it’s a ‘Catch-22.’ If we were run more like Pennsylvania or Vermont, we’d be a lot better off.”

Wisconsin has a constitutional convention provision that requires approval of the Legislature and then a statewide referendum. So it seems possible for Wisconsin to do what New York may do and, say, eject Milwaukee and Madison from this state.

As with New York, neither Madison or Milwaukee represents this state. Milwaukee and Madison are the reason the unqualified Tony Evers is governor and not Scott Walker. Without the Axis of Evil, Walker would have been reelected with 56 percent of the vote, which is a larger margin than Walker ever got in getting elected once and reelected twice.

Does this mean that everyone who lives in Milwaukee or the People’s Republic of Madison is an idiot liberal? No. But those people who aren’t have zero say in government in Dane County or the city of Milwaukee. They are victims of taxation without representation because their representatives don’t agree with them. And I must say that those from Madison and Milwaukee who will oppose being seceded are perfectly happy being represented by Democrats and liberals, and have zero interests in the contrary views of their few non-liberal neighbors.

The priorities of those elected by voters in Madison and Milwaukee have rarely matched the views of voters in the rest of the state, but with time those differences have done nothing but expand. Evers and his attorney general are about to embark on an unconstitutional crusade to take guns away from people without due process or the least consideration of their constitutional rights, and that’s just the start. The rest of the state may be fine with Democrats’ ruining Madison and Milwaukee as they have in Milwaukee’s case and they are doing in Madison’s case. They should not be allowed to ruin the part of the state where real Wisconsinites live.

 

A red-flag-law red flag

Dan O’Donnell:

There is perhaps no more significant power of government than its power to imprison individual citizens and deprive them of their personal property, and thus there should be no power more closely scrutinized.

It’s fitting, then, that a new proposal to seize property is termed a “red flag law” since it raises so many red flags.

Wisconsin’s new Attorney General Josh Kaul proposed such legislation in his inaugural address, calling for the passage of a bill “that will allow law enforcement or family members to go before a judge and ensure that someone who is a threat to themselves or others is temporarily disarmed.”

Governor Evers signaled support for this, as did Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who cautioned that while he is “open to the idea,” he is concerned about “the scope being too broad.”

That may be an understatement.

Red flag laws, which have been passed in six states—most recently in Florida last year—pose substantial risks to both Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights (to say nothing of Second Amendment rights), as they allow for the confiscation of firearms without the protection of due process as it has been traditionally understood.

The Fourth Amendment provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

Probable cause generally exists only when “there is a reasonable basis that a crime may have been committed (for an arrest) or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched (for a search).”

Under a red flag law, however, a family member may request that a judge confiscate an individual’s firearm based on the mere suspicion that he is mentally unfit to own one. Even if there is no evidence that a crime has been committed or is even likely to be committed, the judge can order guns seized.

Even more troublingly, the subject of the seizure might not have an opportunity to defend himself or even know of the allegations against him until law enforcement officers show up at his door to confiscate his weapons.

This Kafkaesque nightmare isn’t just an overwrought hypothetical; it’s actually happening.

Just two months after Florida passed a red flag law in the wake of the Parkland shooting, Broward County Sheriff’s Department bailiff Frank Joseph Pinter was accused of making threatening remarks to a colleague that allegedly included “all you rats should be exterminated.”

Six months earlier, The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reported, Pinter was spotted leaning over a courthouse atrium and pretending to shoot at people below him. Another bailiff accused Pinter of saying to him, “I’m going to exterminate you.”

In May, the Sheriff’s Department had had enough from what it deemed to be a dangerous employee and sought what is known as a “risk protection order” under Florida’s new law. Without granting Pinter an opportunity to defend himself or explain his conduct in court, a judge determined that “there is reasonable cause to believe the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or others in the near future” and ordered his guns to be confiscated.

That afternoon, deputies took all of Pinter’s guns, ammunition, and even his concealed carry permit. He had no idea that there had been a judgement against him (or even that an action had been filed against him) until his guns were being confiscated.

Needless to say, this is antithetical to constitutional protections against what is rather obviously an unreasonable seizure. Pinter may well have been mentally disturbed, but there was no probable cause that he had committed a crime that would warrant government repossession of his personal property.

That he was not offered a chance to defend himself against the allegations against him compounds the issue by presenting a rather clear violation of Pinter’s Fifth Amendment right to protection against deprivation “of…property, without due process of law.”

When the only standard for seizure of property is a vague determination of risk to self or others based on evidence presented only by those who are seeking to seize property, what chance does the individual possibly have of keeping said property?

And what chance does he have if he doesn’t know an adjudicative proceeding against him is taking place?

Under Florida’s red flag law, Pinter was finally afforded the opportunity to challenge the seizure of his weapons several weeks after they had been seized. Only then—weeks after punitive action was taken against him—was he allowed to defend himself against the allegations that led to that punitive action.

Now Wisconsin’s Attorney General and Governor are proposing a nearly identical law, apparently unbothered by the radical infringements on individual civil liberties. The stated end—ostensibly lowering gun deaths—is a noble one, but even it cannot justify such unconstitutional means.

Quite simply, the power of government to seize property—even potentially dangerous property like firearms—is too significant to leave citizens—even potentially unstable ones—unprotected.

Suggestions Evers will ignore

Brett Healy of the MacIver Institute:

We believe, in general, you should pursue a pro-growth agenda that will sustain Wisconsin’s momentum and keep us heading in the right direction.

Taxes are still too high in Wisconsin. Despite $8 billion in recently passed tax relief, the Badger State ranks 32nd on the Tax Foundation’s Business Tax Climate Index. Worse, we still rank a disappointing 39th in the nation for individual taxes.

If Wisconsin wants to remain competitive, if we want to keep our friends and neighbors from moving to more tax-friendly states, and if we want to attract new businesses and all the family-supporting jobs that come with those new businesses, we need to continue our move to a flatter and more fair tax structure.

Wisconsin’s tax code forces even the lowest-income earners to pay the fourth highest tax rate of any state with a progressive income tax. A 3 percent flat tax would lower the tax rate for the working poor and stop punishing success.

A systematic and meaningful tax overhaul would also be an invaluable opportunity to examine what the fundamental role of government should be, determine the critical services that our citizens deserve and reduce government spending on all unnecessary and extraneous programs. We can save Wisconsin taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars if we exercise fiscal prudence. If government can exercise some restraint and discipline, our citizens will have more money in their checkbooks and they will then have the ability to make their lives better on their own.

Gov. Evers, let’s make the 2019-2021 budget about the taxpayer, not bureaucrats or the special interests.

We agree with you that the escalating cost of health care in the Affordable Care Act era is a big concern going forward. One way to increase access to affordable care and foster innovation is to protect the nascent direct primary care movement in our state. New regulations would quickly kill direct primary care before it has an opportunity to re-establish the doctor-patient relationship and solve our health-care woes.

Direct primary care also holds promise for taxpayers. Lawmakers are attempting to introduce direct primary care into the state’s vast and expensive Medical Assistance programs. A similar reform in Michigan is projected to save taxpayers $3.4 billion—with a B—if fully implemented there.

Price transparency is also critical to keeping health-care costs in check. We hope you will work to give patients all of the information they need in real-time to make smart health-care decisions. If health-care consumers are treated with respect and allowed access to legitimate pricing information, they will make decisions on their own that will drive down the cost of health care.

In your inaugural speech, you said you want to ensure “every kid in our state has access to a quality education — no matter what their zip code.” We could not agree more.

We all know that the education system here in Wisconsin is facing some long-term challenges and immediate emergencies. We have too many kids stuck in a failing school, our achievement gap remains a crisis and the amount of money our parents spend on remedial classes in college so their kids can learn what they should have been taught in high school is embarrassing.

Instead of turning to a tired and predictable solution that gives more power to bureaucrats, we should empower parents to fix all of this. Let’s move to a Super Education Savings Account system where parents are in charge of their kids’ education funding and can “bank” any unused K-12 funding for their child’s college or technical school education. You could kill two birds with one stone — allow parents to make the K-12 system more accountable and give parents a real opportunity to save money for college.

We also believe, governor, that you should stay the course on welfare reform. With the state’s economy roaring, a rock-bottom unemployment rate, and more job openings than workers, it is more important than ever to help our fellow citizens to move their way off taxpayer assistance and find meaningful, family-supporting work. The jobs are out there, governor. Repealing training and job-search requirements will prevent welfare recipients from taking that critical but scary first step toward self-reliance and freedom.

Wisconsin is heading in the right direction, governor. Let’s work together to keep our state moving forward. Good luck.

Your taking a few minutes to read this is more than Evers will do.

Democratic cowardice with guns

Facebook Friend Michael Smith:

Democrats’ mission to ban certain guns has very little to do with the Second Amendment or public safety – the American Psychiatric Association revealed the true purpose – to eliminate masculinity in society.

If you read through the list of weapons in the Feinstein Fantasy Ban Bill, the thing that jumps to the forefront is how much these weapons appear to be masculine and of military design – her list reads like the prop inventory from a John Wick movie – even though these weapons are no more deadly than their non-military looking ones that are not banned (and the bulk of the list have non-scary looking variants).

It should be pointed out that in 2017, the greatest increase (111%) in applications for concealed carry permits came from women, not men.

Feinstein lists “Mass shootings that took place last year using military-style assault rifles” but with mistakes and omissions – along with Parkland (illegally purchased weapon due to federal and local law enforcement failures), she lists the Vegas (legally purchased weapons) and Sutherland Springs (illegally possessed weapon due to a government information sharing issue) shootings that happened in 2017, not in 2018 – and she omits other shootings like the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks, California that involved legally purchased semi-automatic pistols.

I’m not excusing those shootings, I’m merely pointing out that Feinstein and the Democrats lack the courage of their convictions to ban all guns and choose to go after a certain style of weapon for purely political purposes.

Not that I need to tell you that.

The new guy

Dan O’Donnell:

Wisconsin got a bold new leader on Monday; a young, dynamic, charismatic figure who is as innovative as he is likeable and who promises fundamental change through sheer force of will.

To say that the Packers hiring Matt LaFleur to be their new head coach overshadowed Tony Evers’ inauguration would be the understatement of the new year. After news broke late Monday afternoon that the former Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator would be Green Bay’s coach, Evers’ inauguration became an afterthought.

That’s not a dig at a state or a media far too obsessed with football, mind you; it’s an acknowledgement of the reality that LaFleur is likelier to make a more lasting impact than is Evers.

LaFleur, after all, has a mandate to make dramatic change that Evers simply doesn’t and LaFleur, unlike Evers, won’t be rendered politically impotent by a State Legislature and Judiciary unlikely to approve of his more radical instincts.

As different as Wisconsin’s two new leaders may appear—LaFleur is a good-looking 39 year-old with a reputation as a forward thinker while the 67 year-old Evers is a self-described bore—their fates may well be inextricably linked to the same basic theory of management.

The Peter Principle, as defined in Laurence J. Peter’s 1969 book of the same name, is the idea that “every employee tends to rise to the level of his incompetence.” In other words, in a given organization (be it a football team or a state government), an individual who succeeds in—or is merely adequate in—his job, he will be promoted. If he succeeds again, he will be promoted again, and this cycle will continue…until it doesn’t. The Peter Principle dictates that everyone has a level of core competency and, once it is exceeded, failure will result.

Rise one level above your competence, the Peter Principle holds, and the results would be disastrous.

This is why many Packer fans breathed a sigh of relief that Green Bay hired LaFleur instead of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. A very highly regarded young coordinator in 2009, he was hired as head coach of the Denver Broncos and failed miserably. Almost immediately, he so alienated starting quarterback Jay Cutler that Cutler said he could no longer trust the organization and demanded a trade.

Josh McDaniels thus stands as a grave warning for NFL teams like the Packers who hire first-time head coaches. So too should the people of Wisconsin be leery of a new Governor who seems to have just been sworn in to exactly one level above his abilities.
After a lackluster 8-8 season in 2009, the Broncos cratered in 2010, and McDaniels was fired after they dropped to 3-9 and were fined for illegally taping an opponent’s practice.

The next season, McDaniels returned to his core competency—serving as an offensive coordinator—and he has remained one of the best in football ever since, winning five Super Bowls as the leader of the Patriots’ offense.

According to the Peter Principle, this is where McDaniels should remain since a promotion to head coach exceeded his level of aptitude.

Josh McDaniels thus stands as a grave warning for NFL teams like the Packers who hire first-time head coaches.

So too should the people of Wisconsin be leery of a new Governor who seems to have just been sworn in to exactly one level above his abilities.

If one is a believer in omens, Evers flubbing his Oath of Office—literally the very first thing he did in office—is an ominous one, especially since it seems as though State Superintendent was above Evers’ core competency.

After all, he was wholly unable to perform what is perhaps the primary function of that role—making requests for funding—without resorting to plagiarism. Will he similarly resort to stealing others’ ideas when he presents his State Budget next month? Will he have a staffer swipe an old Obama speech when he delivers his first State of the State Address?

Even before he took office, Evers showed signs that he was not up to the job of Governor. In an embarrassing backtrack last week, he was forced to meekly promise to follow Wisconsin’s laws just a day after defiantly proclaiming that he would have to be sued in order to abide by legislation Republicans passed in extraordinary session last month.

This dithering, combined with Evers’ apparent inability to provide any sort of policy specifics or even articulate a coherent vision for Wisconsin, reveals him to be just as much of a disaster-in-waiting for the state as Josh McDaniels might have been.

There is, after all, a reason Wisconsin rejected him as State Superintendent twice—even relegating him to a third-place finish in the 2001 primary—and there is a reason he has been wholly unremarkable since finally winning the position that the Peter Principle had long denied him.

Even Evers’ most diehard supporters would be hard-pressed to name Evers’ most significant (or, for that matter, any) accomplishments as Superintendent, forcing a serious examination of whether that role, too, eluded his highest level of job skills.

His primary qualification for election, though, was that he is not Scott Walker and thus, despite his rather obvious shortcomings, the people of Wisconsin promoted Evers to Governor.

No wonder the state tuned out his inauguration as soon as the Packers hired a new coach: At least Matt LaFleur offers a glimmer of hope.

Governor Flippy Floppy

Chris Rochester:

Last week, Gov.-Elect Tony Evers reversed course on a handful of issues that were cornerstones of his campaign.

The incoming governor already has a well-documented record of changing his story on whether he plans to increase taxes on Wisconsinites. But as he made the rounds in the media, Evers went on the record discussing a slate of hot button campaign issues – and, in several cases, directly contradicting his own previous statements.

When it comes to taxes, Evers has gone from “everything’s on the table” to an 11th-hour campaign promise to “raise no taxes” and, remarkably, back again.

Evers has changed his tune on key policy issues like school choice, Foxconn, abolishing the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC), the minimum wage, and Act 10. While his rapid 180 on whether, as a constitutional office holder, he will follow the laws passed in last month’s extraordinary session received some notice in the mainstream media, we have assembled a comprehensive list of every issue on which Gov. Evers’ has changed his position.

TAXES

When it comes to taxes, Evers has gone from “everything’s on the table” to an 11th-hour campaign promise to “raise no taxes” and, remarkably, back again.

During the campaign, Evers talked about cutting middle class taxes and paying for it by scrapping or scaling back the state’s manufacturing and agriculture tax credit. But in the final days of the campaign, on Nov. 1, Evers reversed course, telling The Washington Post that,”I’m planning to raise no taxes.” Some speculated that the Governor’s change was a last-minute attempt to keep the support of voting taxpayers.

Now, he has reverted to his earlier position. In a round of interviews last week, Gov. Evers said he wants to cap the state’s manufacturing and agriculture tax credit at $300,000 a year in income.

That would amount to a significant tax hike on Wisconsin businesses and farmers, many of whom file business income on their personal income tax forms.

Evers also said last week that his first budget will roll back protections for local property taxpayers, breaking his campaign pledge “to raise no taxes.” It would also overturn one of Gov. Walker’s hallmark accomplishments – the statewide property tax freeze.

The governor-elect also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he’s open to the idea of allowing local governments to raise their sales tax.

EXTRAORDINARY SESSION LAWS

Evers quickly changed his mind about whether he’d follow, or ignore, a slate of laws passed in the Legislature’s extraordinary session last month.

He told reporters during a series of interviews on Wednesday that he would refuse to follow some of the laws, signed by Walker in December, that restrict certain powers of the governor’s office. By ignoring some of the laws, he was hoping to draw lawsuits from his foes.

“Tony Evers says it will take a lawsuit to get him to go along with lame-duck legislation,” read a headline in the Journal Sentinel published Wednesday.

He slept on it, and changed his mind by the next day. At a Thursday news conference, he again reversed course.

“I have no intent of breaking the law,” he told reporters.

SCHOOL CHOICE

While Evers’ change of tune on the extraordinary session laws was his fastest, maybe his most significant is his new position on abolishing school choice.

The state’s school choice programs offer state support for families who want to opt out of the public education system and send their children to private schools. On the campaign trail, Evers made his stance clear: he wants to abolish the program.

“As governor, I would work with the legislature to phase out vouchers,” he said in a School Administrators Alliance survey. “I’ve spent the last 20 years fighting back against vouchers and privatizers. On my watch, we’ve removed more than 30 schools from the voucher program and prevented dozens from joining,” Evers said.

But he reversed course in an interview with WisconsinEye. Ending the state’s school choice program “can’t happen,” he said. “We have 30,000 plus kids in there … that can’t happen, and I’ve never said that can happen.”

Faced with a Republican Legislature unlikely to go along with any effort to abolish school choice, Evers now offers vague promises of “transparency.” Among them, he will push to include the cost of school choice on property tax bills in hopes it sparks a “conversation” about the program.

Evers’ choice of advisers suggests a conflict in his incoming administration’s stance on school choice. Heather Dubois Bourenane, director of the Wisconsin Public Education Network, was named to Evers’ “What’s Best for Kids” Advisory Council. Bourenane is a top-flight foe of Wisconsin’s school choice program and a persistent advocate for the public education industry.

Bourenane has described the popular school voucher program as a “laundering scheme.”

Evers’ new, unequivocal statement rejecting the dismantling of the choice programs isn’t likely to sit well with Bourenane and those in her corner. Something to watch as Gov. Evers puts together his first budget.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

“I’m not going to be proposing anything in the budget about WEDC,” Evers said in Wednesday’s WisconsinEye interview.

That stands in stark contrast to his campaign pledge to abolish the quasi-public economic development agency championed by Walker as a replacement for the state’s old Commerce Department.

He’s also backing off his criticism of WEDC’s top achievement over the past eight years, Foxconn. While he never went as far as his primary opponents who called for the wholesale cancellation of the milestone economic development deal with the Taiwan-based electronics giant, he was highly critical of the project.

During the campaign, Evers said he would hold Foxconn’s feet to the fire, saying just enough to placate the far left that hates the deal and the tens of thousands of private sector jobs it promises to bring. But Evers recently backed off much of that rhetoric.

“We have to have good working relationships with them (Foxconn),” Evers told WisconsinEye’s Steve Walters. While he repeated the vague assertion that he would “hold their feet to the fire,” Evers also admitted that the company is “making some proactive steps” in how the company is handling wetlands as construction proceeds.

Construction is currently underway on Foxconn’s massive, $10 billion manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant that promises to create 13,000 high-tech jobs – the largest economic development deal of its kind in U.S. history.

MINIMUM WAGE

During the campaign, Evers’ vision for a minimum wage increase was pretty clear: “We’re going to $15 an hour minimum. Minimum,” he said at a rally at UW-Milwaukee to roaring applause from the crowd of Bernie Sanders supporters.

But in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Evers seemingly backed off the $15-at-a-minimum promise, declining to give a specific figure. While his first budget will offer a “clear pathway” to raising the wage, “Evers declined to say how, or how much, his budget would propose to increase the state’s minimum wage,” the newspaper reported.

A stalled drive toward a higher minimum wage would be good news for the Badger State. Such a drastic increase might sound good to the Bernie Sanders crowd, but it would likely backfire on those it’s ostensibly supposed to help.

As a growing body of research shows, the forced $15 is coming with some ugly consequences. A new study from the University of Washington found Seattle’s path to a $15 minimum wage to date appears to have caused employers in the Emerald City to trim low-wage worker hours by 9 percent on average. They earned $125 less each month following the most recent increase, according to the study, funded in part by the city of Seattle.

A 2014 MacIver Institute study found 91,000 Wisconsinites would lose their jobs if the minimum wage was raised to $15. Considering that many of those are entry level jobs, a “living wage” mandate would eliminate countless opportunities for young workers just getting started in their careers.

ACT 10 AND RIGHT-TO-WORK

During the primary, Evers backed repealing Act 10, Walker’s signature collective bargaining reform law that’s saved taxpayers more than $5 billion.

“Tony is supportive of returning collective bargaining rights to public employees,” said campaign manager Maggie Gau in a statement.

If Republicans were to maintain control of the Legislature, Evers said at the time, he’d still work toward a compromise giving government employees more bargaining power and tipping the scales of government away from taxpayers and back in favor of state workers.

Now that he’s the incoming governor with a Republican-controlled Legislature, Evers is telling the media he hasn’t made decisions about Act 10 yet.

“[T]hat’s part of the budget we haven’t made any determinations on,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal. Indeed, any significant changes to either Act 10 or the state’s right-to-work law would need to go through the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Instead, he’s looking for ways to circumvent the Legislature.

“[I]n a nod to the improbability of passing such a change through the GOP Legislature, Evers said he has considered non-legislative moves such as hiring Cabinet secretaries ‘that value input of employees,’” the paper reported.

 

Axis of Evil values

Jerry Bader:

The group Milwaukee rapper WebsterX was to have performed with has been pulled from Governor-elect Tony Evers’ inaugural gala after the Evers organization was informed by Media Trackers of offensive tweets by the artist, whose real name is Sam Ahmed. In tweets from 2011 and 2012, Ahmed jokes about killing police, Republicans, and committing rape.

Media Trackers sent the tweets to Evers organization spokesman Brandon Weathersby, who told us late Friday afternoon that the group New Age Narcissism had been pulled from the lineup: “Upon the discovery of offensive statements made by a member of New Age Narcissism the group will no longer be performing at the Inaugural Gala. These statements are not reflective of our values.”

Here are some of the tweets:

You can view more tweets here: WebsterX Tweets

The Cap Times reported on Ahmed’s inclusion in the line up Wednesday:

Also on the lineup is New Age Narcissism, a musical collective that includes some of the city’s biggest ambassadors of hip-hop and R&B. Among them is Lex Allen, an R&B singer who was recently featured this year as a performer at Summerfest, and WebsterX, a rapper who has had his music featured on NPR and whose single “Feels” was highlighted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as one of the year’s best.

Because, you see, in Milwaukee and Madison joking about killing cops and Republicans is not merely OK, but applauded and expected. This is what a majority of this state’s voters voted to have for the next four years.

 

The year in stupid

I didn’t get around to writing my usual That Was the Year That Was 2018 because I was too busy at the end of 2018 to do it.

It would be hard to improve, however, on the opinion of James Wigderson:

It was the worst of times, it was the dumbest of times. Wisconsin politics can get pretty stupid, and politicians and voters in Wisconsin just seemed determined to prove how stupid they could be in 2018. Unfortunately, in the stupidity contest between voters and politicians, everyone lost.

There was so much stupidity in 2018, the decision by the Shorewood School District to cancel a play production of To Kill a Mockingbird only rates an honorable mention. Putting false signatures on nomination petitions doesn’t even come close. School administrators allowing students to just walk out of class to make a political point is just another forgotten note of folly. GOP Senate candidates going full-tilt Trump when his popularity tanked in Wisconsin? Hah! Even “The Hop” hops on by without making our list. We would hope that 2019 will be better but, so far, we haven’t been given too many reasons for confidence in the future.

Here is the list of the dozen dumbest events in Wisconsin politics in 2018:

12. Stormy Daniels’ Strip Bar Tour Through Wisconsin.

A porn star was treated like a hero by Wisconsin’s political left as she made appearances at strip clubs in Milwaukee and Madison because she once (allegedly) had sex with President Donald Trump.

“Look what she’s doing for women in this country,” 70-year-old Linda Nelson told the Capital Times. Nelson had never been to a strip club before Daniels’ appearance. “She’s suing our president. What could be stronger than that?”

Daniels would later lose her defamation law suit and has been ordered to pay the president’s legal fees.

After a Stormy stop in Madison, Dylan Brogan wrote in Isthmus, “Stormy sign{ed} my Constitution on a stack of topless portraits of herself.” At least she didn’t give the Constitution a lap dance.

11. Leah Vukmir’s pop up ad has funny looking union thugs.

We could create an entire list of the stupidity that occurred during the Republican primary for U.S. Senate last year, but the decision by state Sen. Leah Vukmir’s campaign to find some very blue collar-looking actors and call them union thugs was one of the dumbest ideas of 2018. It even knocked the Vukmir campaign’s press release calling Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) a “member of team terrorist” off our list.

Additional note of stupidity: everyone on the left that accused Vukmir of racism because they thought the actors looked Hispanic. Really? Just by looking at someone you can tell they’re Hispanic? And that’s not racist?

10. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers compares abortion to a tonsillectomy. 

There was a lot of stupidity in the Evers campaign for governor. Evers promised to reduce the prison population by half, and then backed away from it. Evers said he won’t raise taxes when he’s planning on raising taxes. When asked about raising the gas tax $1 a gallon, Evers said everything is on the table. Evers even defended plagiarism found in the Department of Public Instruction budget.

But it takes a special kind of stupid to compare an abortion to a tonsillectomy and then say taxpayers should pay for abortions. So much for “the party of science.” We should be grateful that Evers spent most of his “education career” as a bureaucrat rather than in a science classroom.

9. The tuba that shook the walls of the GOP.

Judge Michael Screnock’s one and only television ad for his campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court showed him playing a tuba. His campaign probably could have gotten away with it if he wasn’t being crushed on the airwaves by Judge Rebecca Dallet, who was busy falsely portraying herself as a moderate. Screnock deserved a better commercial, a better campaign plan, and more financial support from conservatives.

8. Kevin Nicholson decides to attack his fellow Republicans.

When the national Club for Growth attacked Governor Scott Walker’s record to attack state Sen. Leah Vukmir in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, that was pretty stupid. Nicholson’s campaign compounded the error by refusing to repudiate the attack.

Nicholson then attacked Republican Party activists, inventing the term “Madison swamp” to describe the GOP just prior to the Republican Party of Wisconsin state convention. Apparently Nicholson missed the fact that Republicans controlled nearly everything in Madison prior to the last election and that a lot of grass roots Republicans worked hard to make that happen.

Nicholson even decided to accuse Vukmir of not respecting his military service, a false attack that resulted in Nicholson then saying in an interview that everyone who served in the military should be a conservative. If they weren’t conservatives, Nicholson said he had to question their “cognitive thought process.” That disaster prompted criticism from everybody.

Finally, there was Nicholson’s odd decision to have someone like Brandon Moody as his spokesman so he could alienate even more conservatives by picking a stupid fight with RightWisconsin. We’re still waiting on the explanation behind that stupid decision.

7. Rep. Rob Swearingen’s war on wedding barns.

Republicans are supposed to support free enterprise and the free market. Apparently that support stops when a committee chairman is a former president of the Tavern League of Wisconsin. Swearingen is determined to squash potential banquet competition from “wedding barns” even though they bring more tourists to Wisconsin and more business to Tavern League members.

Swearingen and the Tavern League even pushed a bill that would have eliminated tailgating at most major sporting events in their zeal to kill the wedding barn industry. While the bill passed the Assembly, it (thankfully) died in the Senate after the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty did an analysis.

Swearingen’s response to opposition to his economic protectionism was to label his critics “the far right.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) should put an end to Swearingen’s stupid little war lest Republicans completely alienate an entire class of entrepreneurs.

6. The Democrats nominated Randy Bryce in the 1st Congressional District, wasting millions of dollars on a losing candidate for an open seat.

This is how stupid Wisconsin politics got. How is nominating Bryce to run for Congress not number one on our list?

Let us list the reasons this was a stupid decision by the Democratic voters of the 1st Congressional District:

Bryce had a record of being arrested nine times. He couldn’t explain his back child support getting paid after declaring his candidacy. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s political gossip columnist helped another person owed money by Bryce get in touch with the candidate so that debt could be mysteriously settled by an unknown Democratic Party lawyer. Bryce had to buy a rifle with campaign funds just so he could be seen shooting it in a commercial. His brother campaigned against him after Bryce called the police “terrorists.” Bryce claimed he wasn’t a politician (after losing three other political races) but was getting paid to be a political consultant by former Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate. (Proof that anything Tate touches – dies.) His campaign spokesman left to go work for Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon’s quixotic campaign for governor. Bryce compared his drunk driving arrest and conviction to the arrests of civil rights icon John Lewis for civil disobedience during the civil rights struggle.

In addition to all of that, Bryce was a pretty typical leftist with no understanding of economics who looked pretty stupid on CNN when he was asked how he was going to pay for Medicare-for-all. (Okay, so did every other Democrat who didn’t lie through their teeth.) Bryce’s understanding of the issues was so bad, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI02) had to be a babysitter for Bryce at interviews.

Despite the Hollywood millions spent on Bryce’s candidacy, despite campaign appearances by Sen. Bernie Sanders to fire up the Democratic base, despite all of the national attention, Bryce got a lower percentage of the vote than Rob Zerban received in 2012.

5. Jeremy “Segway Boy” Ryan was arrested for allegedly trying to buy radioactive material.

Guess what? That person who is offering to sell radioactive material on the Internet so you can allegedly commit murder with it might be an FBI agent. Who would’ve thunk it?

By the way, for those media outlets that called Ryan a Republican without mentioning that he was just running for Congress as a prank and that he was actually a die-hard leftist protester? You’re pretty stupid, too.

4. Hey Leah, where are you going with that gun in your ad?

Vukmir’s campaign might have had the worst political ad this century in Wisconsin politics. The worst. When the Republican National Committee runs its seminars on political campaign management, this ad will be used as an example of what campaigns should never, ever do. From putting their own candidate in scary lighting, to the unfired gun just sitting on the table, to the manufactured threatening call, this ad was a disaster. That somebody looked at it before it was aired and said, “We gotta run this,” is a sad commentary on the IQ level of some political consultants.

If there was one, just one, fence-sitting suburban mom who saw this ad and said, “I’m going to vote Republican in November,” we can guarantee it had the opposite effect on many more.

3. Kevin Nicholson, the $11 Million Dollar Man.

Richard Uihlein invested $11 million, according to Politico, in Nicholson’s campaign to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, only to watch him lose to state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) in the August primary. Uihlein spent that money through various Political Action Committees, including: Club for Growth, an alleged scam PAC called the Tea Party Patriots, Solutions for Wisconsin, Restoration PAC, the Great America PAC (no roller coasters), and the John Bolton Super PAC (buying his endorsement).

According to OpenSecrets.org, only $1,468,523 was spent by outside groups on Vukmir’s behalf during the Republican primary.

The next time Uihlein wants to spend $11 million on one race in Wisconsin, he should give us a call. Not because we will help him spend his money more wisely, but we will happily help him spend it.

2. Wisconsin voters decided to keep the state treasurer.

It’s literally a job with almost no duties except answer the phone and attend a committee meeting occasionally. That’s it. Yet Wisconsin voters were dumb enough to believe that the job is some sort of “watchdog” on the state’s finances. Worse, some Republicans even bought into the idea and even contributed financially to the effort to keep the position on state treasurer.

Instead of shrinking state government with a constitutional amendment to eliminate the state treasurer, we still have a no-work, full-pay job on the state payroll. Worse, the voters put a Democrat in the position in November. This means Secretary of State Doug La Follette will get to go on more taxpayer-funded trips thanks to the additional Democratic vote on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

That’s democracy for you. Sometimes the voters are stupid. And this time they were really, really stupid.

And the number one stupid thing that happened in Wisconsin politics in 2018 is…

WISCONSIN VOTERS CHOSE TONY EVERS OVER SCOTT WALKER.

Record low unemployment. Budget surpluses every year. Lower taxes. A complete structural change in state government to keep state and local governments financially stable (if they choose to use the tools offered by Act 10). A friendly business climate. More economic freedom. A modest expansion of school choice. Even more money invested than ever before in public schools, if that’s what you wanted. All thanks to Governor Scott Walker.

The voters threw it all away in favor of a governor who wants to raise taxes through the roof, release prisoners from jail, and return us to the days of Governor Jim Doyle.

Evers can’t even admit that voucher schools and independent charter schools are outperforming their legacy public school counterparts when his own Department of Public Instruction is supplying the evidence. Meanwhile, Evers did almost nothing to fix the failing schools in our state.

How stupid can Wisconsin get?

No, really, Wisconsin chose this guy?

If you don’t like prosperity, I guarantee there won’t be any in Wisconsin by the end of this year, thanks to Evers and his left-wing toadies.
The MacIver Institute contributes another 10:

There were many sins of omission committed by the Fourth Estate’s usual suspects. Sometimes they left important pieces out of the story. Sometimes they bypassed the story altogether. 

There are more, many more, but MacIver News Service has narrowed down the Top 10 most underreported stories by the mainstream media in 2018. And here they are.

#10 – John Doe raids forgotten 

An important anniversary came and went in October without so much as a back-page note from most members of the mainstream media. That’s probably because they don’t want to be reminded that the John Doe investigation, one of the darkest chapters in Wisconsin history, was replete with prosecutorial and bureaucratic abuses. 

They forgot that five years ago, on Oct. 3, 2013, armed officers stormed the homes of conservative citizens before the break of day to conduct unconstitutional raids. Among the victims, Republican strategist Deb Jordahl. Her children awoke to armed deputies standing over their beds. For hours, officers searched their home. The family was forced to watch investigators root through their possessions — all in the name of a bogus, secret investigation into alleged campaign finance violations. What it was, according to stacks of court documents, was a sinister probe into the left’s enemies. Sound familiar? 

#9 – Extraordinary narrative 

This month’s extraordinary legislative session possessed no shortage of coverage. In fact, it may have been over-covered. It’s how the mainstream players told the story, helping the left paint a picture of a Republican “power grab,” that poisoned the well, so to speak. They’re stifling poor Tony before he even takes the oath of office, went the Democratic Party talking points regurgitated by the legacy press.

There’s no doubt that the Republican majority, seeing the writing on the wall, pushed some legislation that will restrain Evers’ executive power, the power that the GOP had no problem allowing Gov. Scott Walker to wield. What was often missing from the overheated narrative, though, was that Democrats attempted to tie the hands of then-Gov.-elect Walker in late 2010 when they hastily tried to cram through expensive union contracts. 

Also missing in the din of discontent is the fact that many of the measures Republicans eventually passed had previously been taken up in one house or the other but failed to make it off the floor. That’s important, because the narrative throughout the session was that Republicans were trying to swiftly push through legislation with little debate.  

But who needs context when you’ve got a good, half-reported narrative. 

#8 – Act 10 savings 

It seems whenever the mainstream media report on Act 10 it’s always about how rough Walker’s cornerstone reform has been on public employees. When it comes to the savings the law has wrought, well, crickets. 

Such was the case in August, when MacIver News Service reported that Act 10 has saved Wisconsin school districts more than $3.2 billion in benefits costs. 

The 2011 law that launched massive union-led protests and a recall campaign against Walker holds public employee pay increases to the rate of inflation and requires them to contribute more — or something — to their taxpayer-funded health insurance and pension plans. 

Districts found savings by opening up bidding to new insurers for the first time in years, while others increased required employee contributions toward insurance plans. Overall, since 2011, districts have largely moved to more taxpayer-friendly health plans – freeing up more money for the classroom.

That’s big news, important news, for the people paying for schools and education in this state. So, of course, the mainstream media mostly ignored it. 

#7 – Direct primary care dies in silence

What if health care were much more transparent, much more affordable, and much more direct? That would be a pretty big deal, right?

Direct primary care is delivering on that promise in half the country. Not in Wisconsin, though. While debate over legislation codifying direct primary care in the Badger State did receive some love from the mainstream press early on, the love was scant and fleeting. 

Direct primary care, a method of delivering health care in which patients pay their primary care doctors directly via a monthly fee, bypasses health insurance and the morass of red tape, inflated costs, and financial uncertainty that plague the traditional system of financing health care. A bill in the last session of the Legislature looked like it was moving until special interests choked it dead. It pretty much died in silence. 

#6 – $907,000 question 

While most news outlets didn’t seem to care that some government retirees are banking hundreds of thousands of dollars in unused sick pay, MacIver News did — and so did some lawmakers. 

Thanks to Wisconsin’s generous sick leave conversion system, some retirees will have mountains of cash they can use to pay for post-retirement health insurance premiums in the Wisconsin Group Health Insurance Program.  

As MacIver News Service first reported in its series, “Bureaucrat Benefits,” the highest sick leave balance in 2017 topped $907,000 for a 69-year-old public employee with 27 years creditable service at a top annual salary of $290,000. That’s equal to more than three years of the retiree’s peak salary. 

Following the investigative report, lawmakers said reforms to a state employee benefits system that includes “golden health care parachutes” for some retirees are long overdue. 

“These stories are certainly getting my attention,” said Sen. David Craig (R-Big Bend). “It’s another situation where state government is on another planet than the private sector. You have spiraling health care costs and you have these government workers immune to a certain extent.” 

#5 – Buffering

When the city of Madison rolled out it’s big-government, broadband-for-all proposal, the legacy media was there. When the city launched an ill-fated pilot broadband project in some of Madison’s poorest neighborhoods, the mainstream media were back again. When the whole thing fell apart on cue, they were nowhere to be found. 

The costly plan to build a government-owned fiber optic broadband network in Madison finally died in late summer. It went out “with a whimper and not with a bang,” according to a city official overseeing the process.

The city’s Digital Technology Committee in September approved a motion to not pursue a Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) network that had been in the works — mostly behind the scenes — for years. MacIver was there all along exposing the astronomical cost of the proposal, while nary a member of the mainstream media was to be found at most of the consequential committee meetings.

#4 –  Broad brush 

In the fever-pitch election year, the mainstream media and the Democratic Party political machine hammered Attorney General Brad Schimel, accusing him of being slow to respond to a pileup of untested sexual assault kits. They painted the Republican AG as a skinflint who put taxpayer savings ahead of swiftly clearing the backlog of some 4,100 untested rape kits. 

They painted with a very broad brush. 

MacIver News Service review of the record found Schimel’s state Department of Justice had worked assiduously for three years solving a problem 30 years in the making. As of September, all of the untested kits had been tested. More so, the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (WiSAKI), is changing attitudes, ideas, an entire culture of how law enforcement officials deal with survivors. In fact, the Republican-led DOJ was lauded by the Obama administration for its victim-centered approach to what is a national decades-old problem – a problem, experts say, that is much more complicated than the media investigative reports and partisan press releases like to admit.

That kind of context meant nothing to liberal Attorney-General-elect Josh Kaul, who defeated Schimel in November, arguably in part on the rape kit narrative the mainstream press created. 

#3 – Double standard 

For the past eight years, mainstream outlets have feverishly reported on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s conservative and pro-business allies. It’s funny how silent they have been so far on the far left, big-government types Democrat Gov.-elect Tony Evers has surrounded himself with. 

As MacIver News Service first reported earlier this month, Evers liked to talk about compromise and bipartisanship following his election win, but his picks for policy advisers suggest he’s playing politics to the far left. The incoming governor has quietly assembled advisory committees packed with some of the most left-leaning people from some of the more left-wing organizations in the state. Nary a conservative to be found, of course, and even truly moderate Republicans are missing from the far left-heavy advisory committees. 

The lineup includes big labor bosses, extreme environmentalists, social justice warriors, and espousers of socialism.

None of that seems to matter to the mainstreamers that have fed the Evers-as-moderating-force narrative.  

#2 -Radical plans exposed

Liberals typically aren’t furtive creatures. They generally tell you they want more tax increases, more government programs, more government. But the mainstream news outlets opted to turn a blind eye to the Legislature’s left wing socialism-lite manifesto last spring. 

Assembly Democrats, led by Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) released a roadmap that includes 18 policy changes ranging from gutting the Second Amendment to guaranteeing a “right to a living wage.” 

MacIver News Service exposed the Democrats’ radical plans. Much of the rest of the media yawned or looked away, perhaps because they share the same vision of big government as the liberals do. 

#1 – Good times get no respect, or coverage

With apologies to Frank Sinatra, 2018 was a very good year for Wisconsin’s economy. But the Badger State boom — in an election year — didn’t seem all that compelling to many of the traditional news outlets in the state. 

Wisconsin’s jobless rate fell to as low as 2.8 percent, and has stood at 3 percent or lower for nine straight months. More people are working in the Badger State than anytime in the state’s history. Initial unemployment claims are at 30-year lows. Pretty much crickets from the mainstream media.  

 

From the governor of the Axis of Evil

State tourism secretary Stephanie Klett posted this on Facebook Wednesday:

Thank you Everyone!! I wanted to send this out so you hear it from me. I have been so touched by the out-pouring of support to keep me as Secretary of Tourism. The newspaper editorials, the petition, the letters of support and calls to Governor-elect Tony Evers. It has touched me to the core. The Governor-elect did not reach out to me though, and just named the new Secretary. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her but know she must be awesome. With the team in place and a state like no other, Wisconsin Tourism will continue to be marvelous! As for me – I am launching our 2019 Travel Wisconsin commercials for television & print at a press conference tomorrow, starring Donald Driver! And yes, Double D will be here! Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything. And remember – Long, Live Limburger!

Klett is only the best tourism secretary and one of the best promoters of this state in its history. And Evers threw her in the garbage, despite her never having done anything remotely partisan that I’m aware of, because Gaia forbid a Republican serve in a Democratic administration.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports on the first four toadies of the governor of Milwaukee and Madison:

Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers drew heavily from the state’s largest city in his first round of Cabinet appointees, a group of four prominent Milwaukee leaders he says will “connect the dots” and bring people together throughout the state.

“I’m seeking talent and I’m seeking people that can connect the dots and people that will work with the civil servants and others in their agency to provide the best services possible, and I’ll have a Cabinet that looks like the people of Wisconsin,” Evers told reporters and local officials gathered in the library of the MacDowell Montessori School. “We have a great start here.”
Joel Brennan, CEO of Milwaukee’s Discovery World Science and Technology Museum, was chosen to serve as secretary of the Department of Administration — one of state government’s most powerful roles. He served previously as executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of Milwaukee and as vice president of the Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Brennan, who has campaign experience with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, praised Evers as someone who will restore faith in state government after years of citizens being “conditioned to expect too little from leaders in Madison.”
To lead the Department of Corrections, Evers has chosen U.S. Marshal Kevin Carr, a 30-year veteran of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.
Carr pledged to bring a “smart on crime” approach to the state’s criminal justice system, which ranks among the worst in the nation in racial disparities in incarceration. Carr said he and Evers share a commitment to maintaining public safety and offering effective, responsive resources to communities.
Carr also applauded the U.S. Senate’s passage this week of legislation that would overhaul the country’s criminal justice system and revise some sentencing laws, a move he said gives Wisconsin an “unprecedented opportunity” to move in a similar direction.
“Smart on crime” is Democrat-speak for letting criminals out of prison so they can reoffend, but gun owners are the real criminals.
In a move he said would “bring science back” to the Department of Natural Resources, Evers tapped Preston Cole, commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services, to head the agency.
Cole, who previously served as director of operations for Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works, was appointed to the state’s Natural Resources Board by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle in 2007 and was reappointed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker and elected chairman in 2013. He was the first African-American forester hired by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“I’d like to double down on science in the epicenter of natural resource management,” Cole said Wednesday, referencing decisions under Walker’s administration to remove references to climate change from the DNR website. “Can I get an amen?”
Cole applauded Evers’ connection with Milwaukee, a city that voted overwhelmingly in his favor, and said his actions send a message “to everybody that resides in this state that Milwaukee continues to be important to this governor.”
Cole’s job is to return the DNR to what it previously was called — Damn Near Russia — and make sure no employer can add jobs in this state, because jobs harm the environment.
Evers also emphasized the importance of Milwaukee in his comments.
“The survival and the well-being of the city of Milwaukee absolutely drives what happens in the state of Wisconsin. It’s not that the rest of Wisconsin is irrelevant, but if we have a sound largest city in the state, class one city, we’ll have a sound, class one Wisconsin,” Evers said.
Put another way, if you live outside Milwaukee or Madison, Evers doesn’t give a damn about you, except for your tax dollars.

To lead the state’s tourism efforts, Evers has selected Sarah Meaney, chief marketing and development officer for Milwaukee Film. Meaney also recently served as managing director at the advertising agency BVK.
Evers’ choice for Secretary of Tourism comes after several Republican lawmakers and one Democrat sent the governor-elect a letter urging him to keep current secretary Stephanie Klett in the position.
“I look forward to working collaboratively with the leaders of our Legislature to make sure that all people of all walks of life feel welcomed, with the warm Wisconsin enthusiasm that we are so well-known for,” Meaney said.
And who is Meaney? Another left wing idiot about to start sucking up your tax dollars.

The next four years will be worse than you can possibly imagine.

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