Why Wisconsin Republican state senators might say ‘no’ to Walker’s budget

Recent facebook update:
CALL ALL THREE ASAP! High level sources say these three are considering a “NO” vote on tomorrow’s budget bill. WE HAVE A SHOT! CALL, CALL, CALL!!!! URGE THEM TO VOTE NO. Luther Olsen – (608) 266-0751 Mike Ellis – (608) 266-0718 Robert Cowles – (608) 266-0484

Will we see three Republicans vote NO on Walker’s budget?
Technically, I should refer to it as the budget that passed out of the Assembly yesterday.

Sen. Dale Schultz is a “no”. But…?
I thought I might give you a solid prediction. But after reviewing the factors, I really don’t know.

I see 2 reasons for their refusal:
1) They see the budget as flat out wrong
or
2) They need to believe that their seats are truly at risk if they vote for it.

Option 1 may seem unlikely since they’ve walked down the road THIS far. Why turn back now?

The answers are many for those who’ve watched closely, but, I believe these are the top three:

* It continues Walker’s degradation of public schools: The current situation is already causing damage to rural schools. The next stage is even worse and can’t be easily be hidden by Walker press releases when parents and grandparents see it for themselves.

Public education funding does not even keep up with inflation in this budget. “The increase in school aid is $289 million over two years, which amounts to a 1.5% increase in 2014 and a 2.8% increase in 2015.” The state-imposed revenue cap that Walker put on local funding barely budges with this bill. And this budget opens the door to publicly funded voucher schools which will become barely regulated parasites on the current K-12 system. No matter how you slice it now and into the decades to come, the voucher schools compete for public ed dollars in the state’s general fund and at the local level since they create a new publicly funded K-12 education system and something can not come of nothing.

Given the national trend, and the trend in Milwaukee/Racine it’s also very safe to say that at least half of those voucher schools will be religious. Wisconsinites do not like the idea of their public dollars funding religious schools.

* Medicaid refusal: It will be a work of public relations art if the Republicans can sell this bullheaded ideology to their constituents on a local level. Rejecting the additional monies the fed. gov’t wants to give for poor working Wisconsinites and using state tax dollars to cover only some of the difference means we’ll spend more state tax dollars to help fewer people. Those estimated 80,000+ poor people who don’t make it in Walker’s threadbare system will clog up our emergency rooms and that impacts us all. Dems will crow about the hypocrisy since Walker’s plan relies on the Obamacare healthcare exchange system [which has copays that I keep on hearing are NOT affordable for the people getting kicked off Badgercare].

* Putting WI in debt for road building and expecting asset sales to pay it off: Those who are reading about the budget understand the serious implications of taking money out of the general fund – which also funds education K-12 – and shifting it to the transportation fund to build new roads that Wisconsin doesn’t need. It’s more complicated than “just roads”, but I see excessive road building as a main culprit in a budget that will deliver a 1/2 billion dollar structural deficit shortly. Walker proposes that added bonding [debt] and also selling assets [power plants] will make it all balance out in the end. However what he’s really doing is putting the state over a barrel each time those plants renegotiate with their new owners (utilities) for power prices.

An example of this special sell-lease-back arrangement is right now functioning south of Milwaukee where We Energies owns a coal-fired plant and earns a profit of 12.7% – – a rate that is “outrageous” according to Charlie Higley of Citizens Utility Board. What else could we be forced to sell and lease back at high prices forever? Roads? Parks? University buildings?

When the dust settles and Wisconsin is left with the monthly payments, it won’t go down well. Whether Walker will still be here or in DC when it does hit a fan is another unknown. That’s uncertainty for state senate Republicans and expensive, radical, and uncharted territory for Wisconsin’s citizens.

Let’s now ponder option 2.

If state senate Republicans don’t vote for Walker’s budget, they face the real risk of facing a Tea Party primary challenger, as Senator Dale Schultz is expected to.

And if they don’t vote for Walker’s budget, the Dem Party won’t suddenly embrace them with open arms. The state senate Republicans need to believe that there are still enough thinking, engaged, moderate Republicans and independents out there who watch policy and are getting really turned off by Walker’s extremism.

They also have to believe that the Wisconsin Democratic Party is still strong enough to present a real risk at election time even with weakened unions – and weakened union-funding for politics.

I have to say the Dems needed to spit and polish their image in time for this budget wrangling and they simply did not do it.

Mike Tate keeping his seat as chair at the convention counts for nothing. He and the top dogs of the WI Dem Party couldn’t figure out how to put 30,000 grassroots members to work from January 18th 2012 to June 5th 2012 when they were needed to recall Walker. Tate chose control of the party over all else, cutting his nose to spite his own face and the state party’s. If you’re saying “but oh look here: WI helped Obama win and … and.. Tammy Baldwin..” That’s very nice for DC and I did my part to help. That does nothing for us at the state level unless Tammy herself turns around and her team of election experts [which she brought in – did you notice that she didn’t rely on WI’s party?] in 72 counties to help – and that is not how things happen here.

Speaking of the 72, Tate vows to implement a “72 county strategy” which in theory vows Dem support to red areas of the state that may have been given short shrift in the past. Alright. That’s in the future – if it happens. Meanwhile the party still seems to lack a communications director and its web site is recycling content from other outlets. (While some may say it’s better to have zero Zielinski rather than any Zielinski in the party at all…) But there is an expensive billboard in Waukesha County, you might be thinking. Nice. And how is this helpful right now with the budget?

Yesterday when the Assembly members said they were taking their message against Walker ‘to the people’ I found no “This is what we’re talking about” press release floating around.

Paging Tate: Are you even communicating with the Assembly? Are you on vacation?
Bueller? Bueller?

Sorry to have to note these things, Dem Loyals. Consider this friendly and helpful fire. Now’s the time when you needed those ducks in a row, even if they’re just web sites ‘n’ window dressing. The slip-ups aren’t just showing. They’re glaring.

And It Could Go This Way

The state senate could also amend the Assembly’s budget and then it would have to go back to the Assembly for the Assembly’s approval before reaching Walker’s desk, where the budget could be altered yet again with Walker’s line item veto.

We’ll see.

Resources used for this post:
Jake’s blog
http://jakehasablog.blogspot.com/2013/06/media-catching-up-to-funhouse.html?m=1

How the Amended 2013-15 Wisconsin Budget Affects K-12 Education – Wisconsin Budget Project

Walker’s Massive Borrowing Scheme – Urban Milwaukee

Gov. Scott Walker embraces Obamacare – MJS Opinion Piece

Critics: Scott Walker’s plan to sell heating plants will cost taxpayers – Cap Times, Steven Elbow

Got 4% in cash? Bankruptcy in process? NO PROBLEM. You TOO can operate your own voucher school in Wisconsin! – blue cheddar

Will religious schools bring our public education system to its knees? On Grothman’s private school tax credit and other repugnancies – blue cheddar – dated April 5, 2013

Footnote:
This came attached to that facebook note:
Attached was this advice:
From Rep. Christine Sinicki – “I’ve heard that they are not answering phone calls. Here’s a trick I learned during act 10 (actually my son, Jim Sinicki figured it out) call a democratic office and ask to be transfered to the republican office. It will appear on caller ID as a call coming from within the building.”

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