Across the country, the economy is slowly but steadily improving. More companies are hiring, consumers are spending again, the stock market is tickling record highs and many Americans say they are feeling more optimistic about the future.

But Wisconsin stands somewhat apart from this trend, consistently and stubbornly lagging in job creation and finding itself near the bottom of many measures of economic health.

Sam Breidenbach knows that uneasy feeling. Before the Great Recession, when most people were feeling pretty flush, he had 20 employees working for him at TDS Custom Construction. The home repair and remodeling business was doing well.

Today, Breidenbach counts 14 employees at his east-side Madison firm, and while things seem to be picking up a bit of steam in early 2013, he’s still not in a position to hire more staff.

“No way I could go back to where I was,,” he says. “I’d like to add guys but we just don’t have the business right now.”

It’s a familiar story across Wisconsin. While fewer businesses are cutting jobs these days, they sure aren’t adding a lot of new employees either. And for those with a job — whether in the private or public sector — the pay raises have been few and far between.

So what gives? Some observers point to Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature. They say the drastic spending cuts in the 2011-2013 state budget, just as the economy was beginning to recover from the recession, have actually made things worse.

“Wisconsin did absolutely the wrong thing at the wrong time,” says Kenneth Thomas, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and author of the popular Middle Class Political Economist blog. “You want to practice austerity when things are going well, not the other way around.”

In some ways, Wisconsin lawmakers had little choice since the state constitution requires a balanced budget. The national recession that officially began in December 2007 and didn’t lift until the summer of 2009 resulted in dwindling tax collections, leaving the state with more than a $3 billion hole in a roughly $30 billion annual budget.

Former Gov. Jim Doyle attempted to close the gap through a combination of a hiring freeze and furloughs for state workers along with a tax increase on upper-income earners.

But Walker went a step further, slashing spending for schools and local governments while requiring public employees to contribute more toward their health insurance and pensions. For some 230,000 workers across Wisconsin it amounted to an average 12 percent cut in their take-home pay — money not being spent today on new clothes, fixing up the house or a trip to the North Woods.

“They had to balance the budget one way or another,” says Dale Knapp, researcher with the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. “If they had used tax increases to balance the budget, then maybe public employees would have had more money in their pockets. But other taxpayers would have had less.”

Walker touted the cuts as showing the rest of the country that Wisconsin was serious about getting its fiscal house in order. The thinking was that private businesses would relocate to or expand in a state that was looking to cut taxes and relax regulations on so-called “job creators.”

“Now is the time for leaders in Illinois and across the nation to take on these tough choices,” Walker wrote in an opinion column in the Chicago Tribune last summer after that state’s Legislature voted to raise taxes.

Still, despite new highway signs touting Wisconsin as “Open for Business” the state has continued to sputter. It ranked 42nd in overall job creation for the one-year period ending June 2012, according to the federal Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), a statistically accurate survey of 96 percent of state employers.

Walker has blamed last June’s recall election for creating uncertainty for the private sector, saying businesses were afraid to hire workers or invest in new equipment. Others have pointed to the budget cuts, including reductions to the Earned Income Tax Credit and other programs that boost the buying power of lower-income consumers.

Steven Deller, an economist with the University of Wisconsin Extension, had warned in 2011 that the cuts in the Walker budget would have a major negative impact on the state economy, reducing consumer spending by nearly $2 billion at a time when the private sector was just starting to regain its footing.

“My fear is that the Republicans put their plan into place, it’s not working, and now they don’t know what to do,” Deller said in an interview last week.

As state politicians of all stripes continue to debate how to reverse the slide, much of the emphasis has been on the manufacturing sector, not surprising given the state’s proud tradition of making everything from paper products to military vehicles.

But Wisconsin has actually been outperforming the rest of the country in manufacturing, with those jobs up 6.2 percent here vs. 3.9 percent nationally over the last two years.

Where the state is badly lagging is in the retail trade, food service, transportation and business services sectors — areas related more directly to consumer spending.

“People are still eating out but where we’ve felt it is in the banquet business,” says Ed Lump, president of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. “Things like weddings or corporate parties, things that are easy to cut or downsize, haven’t really recovered.”

New estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Wisconsin ranking a dismal 49th in the growth of its service sector last year. Only West Virginia and New Mexico were worse. The numbers appear more dire when you consider that the service sector — everything from retail and health care to insurance and information technology — represents nearly half the Wisconsin economy. (That data is available here. Select "Wisconsin"under state profiles at the top of the page and click "All Tables")

Take American Family Insurance for example. The Madison-based giant has seen its Dane County employment fall from 3,759 a year ago to fewer than 3,500 today. Those cuts, through layoffs and attrition, are directly related to a soft economy, especially in Wisconsin where American Family is the leading home and auto insurer.

“It’s a ripple effect,” says company spokesman Steve Witmer. “As the economy continues to drag, people aren’t stepping up into new homes or cars.”

The question for lawmakers is where to go at this point.

As the Legislature’s new session gets under way, with both sides saying they’re focused on expanding jobs, Republicans are pinning their hopes on a bill that would relax regulations for iron ore mining in the state. A Florida-based coal company has an option on a vast iron ore deposit south of Ashland and says it could invest $1.5 billion into the project if Wisconsin can streamline the permit approval process. The payoff: an estimated 2,100 short-term construction jobs and another 700 jobs over the estimated 30-year lifespan of the mine project.

But critics have noted that even the most optimistic projections on job creation from a new mine would barely make a dent in the state’s current 243,000 “jobs deficit.” That figure, from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy at UW-Madison, represents the 153,000 jobs lost since the recession ended in 2009 — plus another 90,000 needed to keep up with population growth.

Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing a package of proposals they say will create jobs more quickly, close the skills gap and help the middle class. They include delivering grants or loans to new businesses rather than tax credits, which are of little value to a company just getting off the ground with no profits to report.

“There is nothing more important right now than trying to put people back to work immediately,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, during a news conference last week.

Two of the Democratic proposals on angel investing and grants for start-ups were actually floated by Walker during his special session on jobs two years ago but were taken out by spending-averse Republican lawmakers.

And given that Republicans control both houses of the Legislature, the Democrats will have trouble moving their ideas forward.

“The Democrats have zero credibility when it comes to job creation, and their ‘new’ ideas are the same as their old ideas,” said Tom Evenson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in dismissing them last week.

One economy-stimulating item sure to gather support from Republican leaders is Walker’s proposal for a middle-class income tax cut, estimated at about $200 for the average taxpayer.

“We’re going to put more money in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers,” Walker said during his State of the State address in January, where he also doubled down on his pledge to create 250,000 jobs by 2015. The governor remains more than 200,000 jobs short of his goal, according to most estimates.

Factory and farm owners in Wisconsin are also due to start collecting from a new tax credit that kicks in this year. The credit, which practically eliminates taxes for those business owners or shareholders, will cost the state $360 million in revenue over the next four years and some $130 million each year thereafter, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Critics warn the impact could be even greater, since it allows the credit to be applied to other incomes such as stock dividends or capital gains.

But Jon Peacock of the liberal-leaning Wisconsin Budget Project argues that income tax cuts and credits always skew toward upper-income earners and have little documented trickle-down effect. He adds that 40 percent of Wisconsin residents are now making so little money that they pay no state income tax, so any cut will do nothing to help them.

If economic stimulus is the goal, Peacock says, restoring the cuts that were made to the Earned Income Credit or Homestead Credit would go a lot further. The last state budget cut by some $70 million those two programs that benefit low-income residents.

“When you’re trying to balance the budget, the question should be how do you minimize the effect on jobs and local economies?” he says. “You don’t do that by taking money out of the pockets of low- and middle-income people and giving it to the wealthy, which is what the last budget did.”

National pundits like Paul Krugman of the New York Times have been debating the question of budget cutting vs. government stimulus, noting that the austerity measures in Europe have actually led to higher unemployment and a double-dip recession. They have warned that spending cuts in the U.S. could send the economy back into a tailspin just as it’s regaining its footing.

But John Koskinen, economist with the state Department of Revenue, contends the only alternative to spending cuts in Wisconsin is higher taxes.

“The state of Wisconsin and its local governments cannot engage in deficit spending, unlike the federal government,” he says.

Going forward, many are focusing on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the quasi-private agency created by Walker to jump-start job creation efforts. But the agency that replaced the stimulus-delivering functions of the former Department of Commerce has been fraught with problems, including losing track of millions in loans and state subsidies.

Walker has since retained former Marshfield Clinic executive Reed Hall to head WEDC after a nationwide search failed to turn up any better-qualified candidates willing to cast their fortunes with the embattled agency. Hall’s resume includes serving on the executive committee of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the board of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

Wisconsin has long struggled to retain leaders of its job-creation efforts. Former Gov. Jim Doyle went through multiple Commerce secretaries during his two terms, including Cory Nettles, Mary Burke, Jack Fischer, Dick Leinenkugel and Aaron Olver.

“Reed is a good guy and a smart guy,” says Tom Hefty, a long-time advocate for growing Wisconsin’s new economy. “More importantly, although he’s from north-central Wisconsin, he brings important connections to the UW-Madison, a key link to that engine of economic development.”

But University of Missouri economist Thomas is skeptical of government subsidies to private business in general. He notes that for the $600 million Wisconsin handed out to private business in 2011, it could have hired more than 9,500 state workers, each at an average salary and benefit package of $63,000.

“What Wisconsin needs to do is invest more in education and infrastructure and less in subsidies to business,” he says. “That is the path to long-term growth.” 

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(132) comments

AllAmerican11B
AllAmerican11B

After wading through all the "stuff" in this thread I've come to the conclusion that most of you are completely closed minded, nothing is going to change your partisan viewpoints, I'm no expert but you are less of an expert than I am, my economist is better than your economist, some speak as if their blind assumptions of others are fact, and some are just here to do nothing but smear others!

I keep going straight back to the comment made by RichardSRussell on February 06, 2013 1:00 pm:

"In my experience, you can make pretty much any declarative statement you want — "deficits don't matter", "minimum-wage laws cost jobs", "the gold standard works best", "the sun rises in the west" — and safely follow it with the phrase "Some economists think so.""

Richard's comment is the only comment in this tread that is 100% undeniably COMPLETELY true. Anyone in this thread claiming that their personal interruption of the in's and out's of the economy is any better than someone else's in this thread is a bold faced liar. Spew all of the useless partisan "I'm right, you're wrong" nonsense you want, you're accomplishing nothing.

Everyone really needs to remember that every rational blogger posting here operates with the understanding that they are not required to respond to arguments and questions.

Those of you that intentionally smear others for not addressing every single one of your personal arguments and questions, get a life.

The thread should have ended with Richard's comment.

gkmoynihan
gkmoynihan

The "there is no truth! Shut up!" argument is the progressives last line of defense.

Look. It's not like we can't see with our own eyes the economic consequences of different policy choices. States that choose to resolve deficits through the revenue approach like New York, Illinois and California are fighting a losing battle as more and more high earners leave their states, tax revenue doesn't meet expectations and the cost for them to borrow gets ever higher. This isn't "opinion". For christsakes open a newspaper.

AllAmerican11B
AllAmerican11B

gkmoynihan,
So let me get this right; you are telling me that all this "stuff" I am reading is NOT opinion and I should open a newspaper based on what I stated in my comment?

You, sir, are no better than those you are swapping mud with; you are also "part" of the problem.

Have a "nice" day.

gkmoynihan
gkmoynihan

AllAmerican,

Nice attempt to move the goalposts. What I said is that Richard's contention that economics is just opinion and that making qualitative assessments of economic policy is just "swapping mud" is just an attempt to avoid having to concede his and your policy preferences are clearly and objectively not working very well in states like Illinois and California.

AllAmerican11B
AllAmerican11B

gkmoynihan,
"Nice attempt to move the goalposts. What I said is that Richard's contention that economics is just opinion and that making qualitative assessments of economic policy is just "swapping mud" is just an attempt to avoid having to concede his and your policy preferences are clearly and objectively not working very well in states like Illinois and California."

Don't reach around and pat yourself on the back just yet. Did you or did you not direct your comment "This isn't "opinion". For christsakes open a newspaper." at me?

Also you just stated "What I said is that Richard's contention..." Well that's just a line of nonsense. Your comment was directed to me NOT Richard, maybe you should have posted your smear under his comment.

You do realize that even the opinion of a respected economist is just that, an OPINION! Their opinion may be based on factual information that they choose to include in their opinion, what about the information that they choose to leave out of their opinion?

Today I think I'll blame all the economic problems we have in the United States on economic subversion tactics of al-Qaeda and none of the problems we are having have ANYTHING to do with any politician within the USA, prove me wrong!

Maybe tomorrow I'll blame the entire economy on you and Fartinthewind.

gkmoynihan
gkmoynihan

The "analysis" by FITW below fails to explain where the money that was saved due to Act 10 would have come from. The author and his sources leave that out because the answer is tax increases. Conveniently we have the outcome that approach readily available to us in the state of Illinois and California.

Want to trade in your fluffy WI pension for Illinois' or California's FITW?

Didn't think so.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

GK:

You are just plain wrong about almost everything you've posted this evening.

First off, I will acknowledge I am no government finance guru. That being said I am definitely not financially illiterate. I'm a pragmatist willing to look at all sides of an issue. While I don't like Walker, I don't have the same vested interest in bringing Walker down that conservatives have in propping Walker up.

To prop Walker up, conservatives have set up a series of false dialectics so they can hedge their bets.

Conservatives argue that Act 10 hasn't had a negative impact because tax savings for the rest of us have offset the economic losses suffered by public sector employees. It's all been a zero sum game according to conservatives. Public sector employees lost expendable income, but those losses were offset by tax savings. Well folks, this just isn't true. There isn't a single source out there (credible or otherwise) that has provided any kind of definitive data supporting this argument.

That's why conservatives love to trot out another false narrative. Instead of admitting that Walker's austerity plans have contributed to Wisconsin's economic malaise conservatives argue that Walker was faced with but two choices He could raise taxes which would have devastated the economy or he could take money from those evil public sector workers. You've got to love the irony behind the logic of this conservative argument.

Taking money from public sector employees doesn't hurt the economy because it's a zero sum game but taking exactly the same amount of money out of the economy in the form of a tax increase would devastate the economy because it wouldn't be a zero sum game. It's a great meme, and it hits a lot of conservative talking points, but it's just plain nonsense. It's also bad math.

Another false dialectic conservatives push is this notion that conservatives alone understand economics and the rest of us are just leaches. This is why conservatives like GK says anyone criticizing Walker won't talk about the tax issue.

I'm not familiar with your pseudonym du jour GK, so maybe you aren't aware that I am all over these threads advocating for shared sacrifice. I'm not afraid of talking about raising taxes. Personally, I think a mix of public sector compensation cuts and broad tax increases could have yielded the same results with fewer economic disruptions.

Assuming you wanted to close the structural deficit as quickly as Walker did, you could have done this strictly by enacting a tax increase that cost on average $517 per job. That's a little less than $10 per week and a little more than $1.40 a day on average. Would that kind of tax increase have an impact on our economy? Yes, of course! But, because it would be spread around it would have less of an impact than taking nearly $11 a day from 350k public sector employees.

On top of that I wouldn't have done it through tax increases alone. I'd have looked at phasing in public sector benefit contributions and phasing out the structural deficit, not eliminating it in one budge cycle.

tomtom33
tomtom33

"Public sector employees lost expendable income, but those losses were offset by tax savings. Well folks, this just isn't true. There isn't a single source out there (credible or otherwise) that has provided any kind of definitive data supporting this argument."

Whatever is not taken from the pot, we don't have to contribute to the pot. It doesn't matter whether there is a tax reduction or less of an increase. While Act 10 has negatively impacted public employees, the net effect has been positive. Public employee unions have lost the public relations battle. Walker winning the recall is all the data you need.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Nice deflection tomtom. This thread isn't about public relations battles and public sector unions.

No doubt there is a kernel of truth in this oft repeated and oft denied Republican talking point. But remember the argument you make here this morning tomtom. Try not to sound like a hypocrite when Democrats use the same argument down the road when talking about cuts to the federal government. I

As a have stated in several posts here. the 4k lost each year by public sector employees probably had a far greater impact on the states economy than a 500 dollar tax increase on every job. The economic impacts could have been further mitigated by phasing in the costs.

But again, I get why you don't address the issue directly. Doing so would tarnish Walker's image and debunk republican memes.

tomtom33
tomtom33

I will be happy to address the issue directly. Walker's decisions did not harm the economy. I can find economists to say anything that I want them to say.

And I did address your point directly. You raise it. I address it.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

If the net effect had been positive we wouldn't be hovering near the bottom in all economic indicators.

gkmoynihan
gkmoynihan

FITW,

Let me restate where we are at in this exchange.

I state the obvious that any entity with revenue and expenditure has two options to bring them into balance: increase revenue and/or decrease spending.

You say that this is wrong and part of the "false dialectics" of Walker supporters. You again want to suggest Walker had some choice other than raise taxes or cut spending.

But in your next breath you then advocate a new tax that amounts to evenly dividing the amount saved by Act 10 evenly across all employed people in the state and decrease spending through more gradual benefit cuts.

So yes FITW you're either financially illiterate for just really dishonest.

If it's the latter stop insulting our intelligence and just say that you don't believe public workers should have to share in the "sacrifice" in the same way that private sector workers have experienced in this state over the last 15 years. This is all your argument amounts to.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

There are other ways to raise revenues GK, that's why yours is a false dichotomy. It's called a structural deficit. Or you could borrow.

I did not advocate the tax increase I said it was a possibility. What I advocated was a mix. Bring the structural debt down slowly, phase in public sector benefit contributions, and increase taxes.

You twist what I say so you can focus on debunked conservative memes and ignore the damage austerity plans have done. Keep that head firmly buried in the sand GK.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Freddiebell and Pete have been throwing around some numbers on this thread. Let's clear up a few of them. I am sorry for the length of this post, but rather than dealing with conjecture I thought I would take the time to lay out the case. If you want to ignore the details of how I come up with the numbers just scroll down to the bottom of the post to see what I came up with.

What percentage of Wisconsin's workforce is theoretically covered by Act 10 (2011-2012) and how did Act 10 impact Wisconsin's economy? The numbers aren't 't as easy to determine as you would think or hope.

Some public sector employees had contracts and are just now coming under the provisions of Act 10. Some of the employees have voluntarily accepted the provisions of Act 10 even though they aren't covered by Act 10.

Best I can tell is in 2011, there were 2,663,596 jobs in the state of Wisconsin. 352,157 of those jobs were occupied by state and local public sector employees. 2,282,068 were private sector jobs. The rest were federal jobs and not pertinent to the discussion.

Average annual wages for private sector employees was $40,641. State workers had average annual wages of $53,025 while local workers averaged $38,815 annually. The average annual wages of all employees was $40,012. The combined average wage for state and local workers was $41,858.

For the sake of argument let's just take the average annual wages for all employees and multiply that times the number of jobs. Do this and we get annual wages of $106,575,803,152. Annual wages for state and local employees is $14,740,436,375.

What percentage of the state workforce is made up of public sector (state and local) jobs? 13.22% of Wisconsin's jobs are held by public sector employees either subject to Act 10 or otherwise likely impacted by Act 10. Their annual wages make up about 13.83% of Wisconsin's total wages for 2011.

How much money did Walker's austerity measures take out the state's economy?

Again that's hard to determine. It's going to depend on how many public sector employees were impacted by Act 10, how many escaped the law's wrath, and what the wage distribution of those two groups looks like. Again, for the sake of argument I'm going to take the whole pool of state and local workers and apply the percentage quoted in the article. The article says that Act 10 had the affect of lowering take-home pay 12%.

Well it turns out 12% of total wages for state and local employees amounts to $1,768,852,365. That would amount to about 1.66% of lost total wages. I figure that number is on the high side. So I tried to figure what the average take home pay would be for state and local workers.

The average pay for state and local workers is $41,858. I found a website with on online calculator for determining take home pay. For s&g's I calculated it as follows: workers claiming single filing status and a withholding allowance of 2 and a 5% state tax rate of 5%. I didn't put in any other deductions. This allowed me to calculate an average annual take home rate $32,561/employee. Apply the 12% lost income to this figure and Walker only took $1,375,990,089 out of the economy.

As a percentage of wages this amount to 1.29% of total wages. But that isn't a fair percentage to look at. We should be comparing apples to apples. So I had to calculate the total take home wages for the state. I did that by going back to the tax tables and plugging in the average annual wages for the state and determined that average annual take home pay is $30,902. This means Walker's Act 10 had the affect of reducing statewide take home pay by 1.67%. This is only slightly higher than the initial calculation.

So here is what I come up with:

13.22% of all jobs in the state of Wisconsin are public sector jobs (state and local)

Act 10 reduced total expendable income by approximately 1.67%

Act 10 reduced expendable income by approximately $1,375,990,089 dollars.


Here are the links I used for my data and calculations.
http://worknet.wisconsin.gov/worknet/daindustry.aspx?menuselection=da
http://www.free-online-calculator-use.com/free-online-paycheck-calculator.html#calculator

If anyone still wants to argue that taxpayers saw an equivalent reduction in their taxes that effectively replaced this number, please feel free to lay out your case. Personally I think you are going to have a very difficult time doing that. The data is hard to come by and you are going to have to be able to show that any tax savings actually flowed through Wisconsin's economy and didn't end up in the bank or somewhere out of state. But again feel free to try and do so.

And we haven't even begun to look at effect depressing the compensation of public sector workers had on other sectors of the economy yet.

Interesting side note: The department of workforce development no longer provides easy access to employment data pre-dating Walker. I wonder why?

gkmoynihan
gkmoynihan

"How much money did Walker's austerity measures take out the state's economy?"

This is a misleading question. Walker didn't take any money out of the economy. The money was never there to begin with. Walker simply opted to not further increase the slice of the economy that goes towards state revenue.

Now we can debate whether money in the pockets of public workers is better for the economy than it being in the hands of private sector workers but please stop pretending that some grand alternative existed that Walker didn't choose.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

GK

With all due respect, you are trying to spin the issues rather than discuss the issues. Why not take a minute and tells how much the state spent in the fiscal year preceding Act 10's implementation hand how much the state spent after the implementation. Please include your sources.

Do make sure to add back in the contributions public sector employees are making towards their retirement and healthcare benefits so that we can compare apples to apples.

Thanks.

gkmoynihan
gkmoynihan

With all due respect I think you're financially illiterate.

Again, Wisconsin is required to have a balanced budget. FITW that means that future liabilities must not exceed expected revenues. Doyle achieved this through accounting tricks that mortgaged the state's future and future liabilities exceeded 3 billion dollars by the time Walker was elected. In fact when Walker was elected Wisconsin's budget was in such bad shape that many credit agencies put it among the bottom 10 states in the nation. (http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/69771807.html)

This situation left Walker with 2 options:

A.) Raise Taxes in the attempt to acquire more revenue
B.) Cut spending so existing revenues were sufficient

He chose B and passed Act 10 to give state and local governments greater flexibility in enacting these spending cuts.

Again, if you would have preferred A then please explain why the circumstances Illinois and California face are preferable.

196ski
196ski

With all due respect FITW, aren't you putting the same spin on the issues by treating Wisconsin as a closed economy?

Your assumption ignores Federal contributions to State programs. I have shown you multiple times that the end of the Stimulus funding for Wisconsin's Medicaid program left a 1 billion dollar two year hole in the programs funding. That billion dollars certainly had an economic impact on the State which you have not factored into your equations.

Wisconsin could not just extend the 09-11 budget into the 11-13 budget. Negating reduced tax revenue from the recession, the loss of that Medicaid funding required that if Medicaid was to be preserved, either a tax increase or budget cuts were required. Walker and the Legislature chose ACT 10.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Actually ski you are proving my point in a round about way.

It doesn't matter how you parse it. The expendable income public sector employees lost either went to pay for Walker's austerity or the Federal Government's austerity. Take your pick. It couldn't pay for both. That's why there haven't been tax cuts that correspond to the economic cost of implementing Act 10.

So which austerity plan has led to Wisconsin's economic malaise? Reasonable people would have to say that both have contributed to Wisconsin's economic malaise. But let's not forget that the rest of the states faced the same federal austerity. They're arguably doing better than Wisconsin, at least in the short-term.

In the long-term it's all going to be conjecture. As you indicate it's not a closed economy. It's very complicated. In the end it's going to be difficult to ascertain what's going to be responsible for Wisconsin's growth or lack there of.

BTW: I would venture to say that's why Walker's big tax breaks are phased in and haven't really started yet. My guess is the brains behind Walker knew his austerity plans were going to cause short term problems. By delaying the tax cuts conservative think tanks will be able to spin a future uptick in the normal business cycle as having been caused by the tax cuts.

Oh well, it's past midnight and should be out plowing by 5am.

notakers
notakers

Good work fart, but you must consider more than tax reductions when looking at tax relief. The Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research at Suffolk University in Boston concluded,"The cost saving measures prevented painful tax increses that would have damaged the states private economy resulting in slower job and income growth" and "avoided furthur layoffs of teachers."

In addition to public education, municipalities saved another $775 million to $1.2 billion, and 11,500 to 14,000 private sector jobs were saved because of the reduced tax burden according to the institute.

When Walker took office, Wisconsin was $3.6 billion short. Without Act10, there would have been two choices, raise taxes or layoff employees.

So when figuring tax savings, add the reduction in taxes to the increase in taxes that were avoided.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

I will look at your source material when I get done shoveling. In the mean time I want to point out that that when you talk about education savings and other savings, you need to be careful to double count savings. As I understand it, Walker cut but he provided tools to help offset the cost of the cuts.

While I don't have an exact figure at my fingertips the majority of savings have come from cost shifting. What was once paid for by the whole of taxpayers is now being paid for by public sector employees. To this extent I think you will this to be pretty much a zero sum gain. That is not to say that there weren't substantial savings on insurance costs, it's just to say that the employees picked up much of this cost through fees and co pays on top of their premium contributions.

I am toying with an analysis of how much it would have cost to spread around tax increases rather than pushing it all on to a small group of people. No doubt a broadly based tax increase would have some kind of economic impact. We are going to have to isolate the number of public sector jobs that were lost as well.

Got any figures on tax reductions that actually flowed back into consumer spending? It's pretty obvious that the tax reductions that flowed to the so called job creators hasn't really done it's job.

notakers
notakers

There is an organization, whose name I canot remember, that compiled all the newpaper reported savings for schools and local governmentts and came up with an impressive sum. That included the savings resulting in opening health insurace bids.

notakers
notakers

I found it. MacdIver Institute, "It's Working", Oct. 10, 2012 They came up with $2,273,357,069.77 through Oct., 2012

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Notakers:

The MacIver Institute study has been roundly criticized for for it's preposterous methodology. The study clearly overstated reality and it has never been duplicated (only quoted) by any other study I am aware of.

On top of that, the figure you quote involves nearly two years of overstated savings. The figures I provided were single year economic losses. Since those "income losses" carry over year after year, if we want to compare apples to apples, we'd still be close to a 500 million dollar difference.

In the end we are left to acknowledge that Act 10 blew a huge hole in the economy.

If conservatives should stick to arguing that "Walker didn't have a choice."

Arguing that Act 10 didn't have an extremely negative short-term impact defies reality.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

So no takers.

You gotta love a supposedly scholarly analysis that promotes a particular candidate and then produces projections of how much that candidate has saved taxpayers. Top that off by noticing that the projected savings have a range of 400 million dollars.

"Sloppy and unpersuasive, more interested in publicity than crafting a solid analysis, the Beacon Hill Institute is losing its credibility." That's what the Boston Herald says about the Beacon Hill Institute.

I haven't finished reading the entire report yet. I think if you look at the first half of the report you will find it doesn't contradict anything I have said.

I'll look more at it tomorrow night.

pete
pete

fitw, did every public employee face the same "reduction" in take home pay?

Weren't some of the public employees spared from ACT 10 initially?

So, you did the math and you came up with 13.22% of the workers are paid by the state. That of course means that 86.78% are private sector workers. Where do you think the focus should be? Which segment do you think drives the state's economic engine?

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Really pete?

All of your questions are addressed in my posts above and below.

The issue on this thread isn't which drives the economic engine. The thread is about whether or not Walker's budget cuts hurt the states economy.

My position remains that screwing public sector workers (which you remain fond of) hurt the economy. Shared sacrifice, screwing everybody if you will, would have done less damage to our economy.

pete
pete

fitw, let's presume you answered my questions, which you didn't, let me ask something from a different angle.

Do you know what the percentage of the avg pension earners contribution vs what they receive? I don't and would love to know. Ex: When Christie was elected in NJ, he pointed out a stat that the avg retired worker receives $1 million in pension, health care, etc. During the time they worked for the state they contributed slightly more than $100k, or roughly 10%. Is that sustainable? I know our system is much more sound, but how much?

Even if WI is 50% let's say, doesn't that make retirement and the pensions more sustainable if people have to contribute more? Isn't a more sustainable pension fund better for the economy over the long haul? This so-called pay cut is going into a person's pension, won't they someday reap the rewards of that investment?

Won't contributing to a health care system help maintain a certain level of medical care for a person when they need it most? School districts across the state saved millions by being able to shop their health ins package, should we just discount those savings?

Isn't this 12% paycut actually more like an investment into our future?

btw, I'm not sure where I ever said I was fond of screwing the public sector. My position has always been, if the money isn't there and won't be there look inside your own house before knocking down the door on the 86.78% of us who live outside the public bubble.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Boy you love deflecting and dissembling Pete.

Here are some facts for you Pete. 80% of the pension a WRS participant receives comes from interest gained on contributions So even if the participant contributed 100% of the seed money directly from wages conservatives could still offer up the ridiculous anecdote you provided from Christie. So yours is an absolutely meaningless point.

Your point is made even more meaningless because the WRS is not the poorly funded program offered by NJ and few public sector workers in WI receive post retirement health insurance. (FTR I have never supported the concept of employer funded health care unless it was pre-funded which is pretty much impossible to do given the volatility of healthcare expenditures and the inability of employers to contain costs.)

For years I warned friends who were public sector workers about the need to contribute towards their health care costs. We live in dual realities. The public sector workers were right on the economics (one reality) but they blew in the arena of public opinion (a second reality). In the end they reaped what they sowed.

But having reaped what they sowed, doesn't make Walker's austerity plans economically responsible. Quite to the contrary, the vindictiveness and economic surreality necessary to support Walker's austerity plans kind a prove that point.

notakers
notakers

Fart, you, the Boston Herald, Weac and Afscme may not like the MacIver report but the institute was very open as to how they arrived at their over $2 billion in savings. They used the reports of school superintendents, county executives and municipal adminstrators as printed in local newspapers and added them all up to come up with their total. They did not guess or fudge their numbers but took them as is. If you had valid criticisms, you should detail them rather than relying on others' jaundiced views.

This is my last post and I conclude as follows. Under Doyle there were yearly tax increases and despite this, he left a $3.6 billion deficit. Walker not only eliminated that deficit but will end this biennium with a surplus. You can argue that the cuts were borne on the backs of public employees but private sector employees and business owners had suffered cuts in income due to the recession.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Being open about how you arrived an numbers that have since been debunked doesn't make the debunked numbers more meaningful.

Just think about that commercial where the girl says everything on the internet is true.

Reporting numbers that were thrown out by individuals with an agenda without analyzing those numbers isn't research.

As for your last paragraph, I think it says a lot about the emotional nature of your reasoning. Just because the latter is true that doesn't mean the former makes good economic sense.

Truth is austerity measures, whether tax increases or spending cuts, are a drag on the economy. Walker owns this one and the record shows it isn't working.

DriveThru
DriveThru

As GOP policies destroy the state economy, the best move for residents is to go to a more rational state, one were jobs are growing and their families have a brighter future. This state is pathetic!

tomtom33
tomtom33

Enjoy your trip.

pete
pete

don't let the door in Beloit hit you in the ars on your way to the liberal Eutopia that is Illinois!!!

GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN
GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN

@DriveThru,

Here's you hat. Here's your coat. There's the door.

What's your hurry?

I love our Badger State!

Good Dog, Happy Man.


pete
pete

@freddiebell - in regards to your follow up to my comment. I was not insinuating that public workers are lazy or aren't deserved of a fair wage. My contention is that the govt checks are written from one checkbook so to speak. If there is waste and fraud happening there is less in the checking account for those who deserve it, namely public employees.

Where people like me get protective/defensive is when you hear story after story of abuse and fraud. You hear story after story about rotten teachers keeping their jobs because of tenure. You hear story after story about people living on their pension almost as long as they worked at their job and yet the only solution EVER put forth is to punish the private sector, there will never be enough money so it has to come from somewhere. The gov't can't keep track of the money they already have but by god if anyone questions them wanting more then it can only mean you hate teachers and are anti-education and kids.

What's wrong with asking the gov't to get their checkbook in order before feeling entitled to mine?

notakers
notakers

Did Walker's budget cuts affect the economy of Madison and Dane county? Well of course it did, but Dane's loss has been a gain for the rest of the state. We have seen a slight decline in property taxes and may see the same for state income taxes which, hopefully, has improved the economies of the other 71 counties. The State JOurnal needs to get out of Madison and do some reporting.

DriveThru
DriveThru

If its such a gain for other counties, then why are jobs lagging statewide? The entire state has suffered from the GOP's mindless ideology, except for his millionaire cronies and donors.

notakers
notakers

We have the highest maufacturing per capita in the state. With the economy lagging world wide and especially the recession in Europe, Wisconsin manufacturing has taken a hit.

notakers
notakers

.....per capita in the nation.

Gierahn
Gierahn

For our family, ACT 10 cut my husband's take-home pay total almost 17%. Multiply that around our poor, rural county, and it makes a difference. Wisconsin once had a proud tradition of progressive good will. Now we;re starting to look like the right-to-be-poor southern states that have low-paying jobs, poorly-funded schools and rising poverty. That Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal are the poster children of the GOP speaks volumes. Recent news revealed that Wisconsin's economy began losing ground in the 90's. Let's see, who was the governor then? The so-called job creators are false gods.

pete
pete

here's a snippet from that article:

"Specifically, Wisconsin has outperformed the U.S. in only 28 of the past 102 months. That is a major change from 1986 to 1993 when, mainly under Gov. Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin added jobs faster than the national average for 87 consecutive months."

hmmmm.

You said your husband has given up 17% of his pay, how many private sector workers in your area lost 17% of their pay or worse, their jobs?

notakers
notakers

Yes Pete, public employees are not aware that the recession affected people in the private sector before Act10.

notakers
notakers

For every dollar a public employee lost, a taxpayer was able to keep. Net effect on the state economy=0, but while Dane may feel an economic negative, the rest of the state is getting an economic plus.

DriveThru
DriveThru

Bunk. Tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit Walkers millionaire cronies, while the wage cuts affect middle class families. The millionaires move most of the money to off shore hideouts, while the pay cuts kill demand for goods and services throughout the state. Walker's welfare for the rich schemes have huge negative consequences on the state, which we are seeing in the net destruction of jobs state wide. Simpletons like you are what allow predators like Walker to prosper!

tomtom33
tomtom33

Every dollar spent by the State comes from the pockets of the taxpayer. Money not spent is money we do not have to pay.

notakers
notakers

You do realize your post is just a rant; not a rebuttal to my post. If you can show me that Walker has not been good for the private sector, do so. In the meantime, I will let rational readers decide who the simpleton is.

notakers
notakers

If the home remodeler from Madison is concerned about the effect of Act 10 on his business, he should get ready for the effect of the gas and food price increases, a direct result of Obama's loose money policies.

Warren G Harding
Warren G Harding

Governor Walker had to privatize the Wisconsin Commerce Dept. to keep it out of the hands of the libruls. He put $56 million of his own money into jobs creation. He created about 200,000 new jobs, mostly good-paying non-union jobs with health insurance. Even the most simple-minded of the librul simpletons ought to be able to understand this, but they don't. Because the legislative districts have been optimized it'll be a long time, if ever, before the libruls can get back into power and ruin the economic juggernaut Wisconsin has become under Governor Walker's fearless leadership. He described it as "divide and conquer" to the billionaire Diane Hendricks. Kill off the unions, cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations and our economy grows and grows, as simple reality-based observation shows. The problem is libruls don't live in reality.

DriveThru
DriveThru

"Economic juggernaut." What a pathetic joke! A net loss of jobs, while nearly every other state is improving. We need look no further than fools like you to see why WI is becoming the Mississippi of the north.

IndependentinWis
IndependentinWis

Wisconsin is seen as a state in decline. Walker's budget cuts did nothing to stop the decline, infact incresed the speed of the decline. Businesses look at our state and see a drop in the quality of the schools system from K-12 to the university system, once a huge selling point for the state. The political atmoshpere also does not help. I am sure the GOP and Walker would lay this at the feet of the Dems, but the way Walker and the GOP has gone about making the changes they have are a major factor. And then changing the very department that works with business from a govenment progra to a private concerna dn having it become a laughing stock hasn't helped. So, yes, Walker's budget cuts and the actions of the GOP in concert with Walker have led to the decline in the state and its prospects for attacting new business.

pete
pete

because you say so...?

Nav
Nav

Pete, do you ever read all the comments on here? Are most of them supportive of what the Governor has done? My guess is that comments on here reflect the general sentiment in Wisconsin.

tomtom33
tomtom33

The comments posted on this website in Madison are not reflective of the whole State. Try leaving Madison some time. Do you really suppose that, if the whole State felt like Madison, we would have GOP control of the Governorship and both Houses?

pete
pete

as a matter a fact I read almost all of them. Did you also guess that the comments during the recall reflected the general sentiment of the state as well? How did that work out for ya?

Just because one "newspaper/blog" agrees with your point of view does not make it fact. Just because you choose to ignore some of the positive indicators across the state does not make them untrue.

We get it nav, the cap times is your end all, be all for news, many of us choose to be more objective. That doesn't make us wrong.

pete
pete

hey nav, I just came across this about two other news outlets that maybe you've heard of: New York Times and Washington Post:

From the UK Guardian:

"US news organisations are facing accusations of complicity after it emerged that they bowed to pressure from the Obama administration not to disclose the existence of a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia despite knowing about it for a year."

So if you don't read it in your favorite newspaper, is it still not true?

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg

@pete;

C'mon; we all know Lefty media is in the tank for Owebama in an insidiously blatant manner. Yet Lefty media does have a *code* and *protocol* to which it will still adhere; gutless and predictably weak-minded as it may be.

That code, such as it is, holds that revealing military secrets are only allowed if they serve to put conservatives in a poor light. If they meet that lily-livered trigger, they then become the sole province of Lefty heroes Julian Assange & Bradley Manning.

The Gotch

Warren G Harding
Warren G Harding

The true heroes are Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby and the U.S. House when they changed french fries to freedom fries. They stopped Iraq's WMDs just in the nick of time; they'd stockpiled enough sarin, aluminum tubes, yellow cake, mushroom clouds and smoking guns to level every Walmart in the U.S. They also taught Iraq a hard lesson after Iraq pulled off Sept.11. At the cost of about $2 trillion and counting the whole war paid for itself once the oil fields were captured, as Paul Wolfowitz had predicted before the invasion. Cheney also went over to the "dark side", as he put it, to torture the prisoners and find out just in time what they were going to blow up next. It's just like on t.v. or movies. Cheney kept the terrorists from blowing up the Brooklyn Bridge, among other things and made the U.S. respected once again.

bob3
bob3

warren,
Glad you are no-where close to being in a governmental position...

bookman21
bookman21

The core of the right wing ideology is cheap labor.
Cheap labor means that the middle class has less money to spend to drive the economy and create jobs. What part don't the teabaggers understand?

gkmoynihan
gkmoynihan

Steven Deller is this you posting under a pseudonym?

I suppose your progressive solution is the same tired one tried in Russia, China and your precious Coooba: bleed the rich to nourish the proletariat. Well half-wit, I again encourage you to see how that's working in Illinois and California. You see the thing about money is that it buys options and rich people have more options than any of us. You probably hid away the knowledge of the fact that 40,000 out of 20,000,000 people account for 50% of the state of New York's tax revenue in that little red shame box in your mind where all your poseur's doubt lives but why don't you tell us how to replace all that revenue when the rich people decide to move. Seriously, tell us. Jerry Brown, the homophobe Cuomo and Pat Quinn really want to know because they're all dealing with an exodus of high earners.

The reality is that things change. The skilled/semi-skilled manufacturing labor pool that once powered this state cannot command the compensation that it once did. Between the CNC machine and the Chinese labor force the market cannot pay middle class wages to people to perform repetitive tasks all day. You can advocate punishing wealthy people for that but there are many other beautiful places to live in the world than Wisconsin.

gkmoynihan
gkmoynihan

This Kenneth Thomas (who is not an economist Mike Ivey so your headline is misleading) and Steven Deller use the same intellectually dishonest tactics academics in the social sciences used in the 80s to attack western capitalism: seek to discredit real world policy outcomes with an idealistic straw man they never fully define. They refuse to compare apples to apples. This article clearly states that the only alternative to Walkers budget cuts was to attempt to increase revenue through higher taxation. This is the approach that was taken by Illinois and California. In both cases the revenue generated by the tax increases failed to meet projections, massive budget holes remain and both states debt ratings are close to junk status further exacerbating their budget holes.

Only in academia can someone make such a good living while being so perennially wrong.

patricko
patricko

If you ask 4 economists what will happen given a particular action, you will get four different answers, five if one of them is from Harvard.

Nav
Nav

As most bloggers, those who are regulars and new ones can see, the vast majority of comments are SUPPORT what the article states. If you look at who is in opposition, it is no more than a couple of people making several posts to make it look as if there are lot of them. There aren't!

The truth is that our economy, as a whole, is worse off than when Governor Walker took office. The voters of Wisconsin need to know that and not be fooled by the Governor again.

It is the responsibility of newspapers to report what is going o in the state, and a reputable paper like the Cap times has done a good job of trying to educate the voters that several actions taken by Governor Walker have seriously damaged the state's economy. The question is what will they do about it when Governor Walker asks for their vote in 2014? I know what I will do.

pete
pete

geez nav, are you telling us you aren't going to vote for walker? You didn't the first two times why would you change now?

Nav
Nav

I am telling you that more voters will vote against Governor Walker if and when he decides to run for re-election because they will see through his gimmicks.

AllAmerican11B
AllAmerican11B

Nav,
"I am telling you that more voters will vote against Governor Walker if and when he decides to run for re-election because they will see through his gimmicks."

Now you're talking like Dave Dave Zweifel and John Nichols, of course anything YOU tell us should be considered the only "truth" available to mankind! You're logic-less crystal ball is cloudy and cracked!

tomtom33
tomtom33

The vast majority of comments in Madison mean little.

196ski
196ski

Do you honestly think they will elect someone who pledges to raise taxes?
That was the choice right, raise taxes or cut spending? Walker did not raise taxes.

pete
pete

freddie, you asked me: "Please tell us precisely how taking money out of the pockets of good, hard working people who will spend it and foster economic prosperity across the spectrum will benefit us all, while under Act 10 others take it out of circulation and/or give it to "job creators"

Let me ask you this, under obama middle class take home pay has dropped $3500. So if you take 100 middle class families in WI, 8 of them are public employees and lost 8-10% of take home pay but 92 of them lost $3500, which do you think would have a bigger impact on the economy. in other words, taking 10% of the pay from 8% of the people results in less than 1% less revenue. Why don't you show me your empirical evidence that shows that businesses are shutting down because of the <1% drop in revenue.

We are now spending more of our take home pay on gas, heating bills, electricity, etc. Maybe you could explain how making all of these things more expensive helps a middle class family?

freddiebell
freddiebell

pete: How much can one really blame on Obama? That is a convenient target, and an easy talking point, for the right, but by no means the only one. Let's stay on topic. It is about Scott Walker's impact upon Wisconsin. For my part I can only speak for myself. I am materially much worse off under Scott Walker than I was under Jim Doyle, even though he imposed furloughs. It impacts how much (er, little) disposable income I have to spend -- especially when there has been no raise whatsoever, not even a cost of living adjustment, in well over half a decade. As other writers here have noted, you can't spend money you don't have, and that hurts the bottom line of ALL Wisconsin businesses. It is less to do with businesses closing down than with them not hiring additional or replacement workers, providing fewer services and of less quality, and generally reducing what they have to offer when we continue to pay the same or more for their goods and services.

I enjoy our occasional interaction in this forum. Thanks for your participation.

pete
pete

I'm not doubting that the impact Walker's budget has had on the public sector. But again, aren't we talking 5-8% of the total work force that were affected to date? So if you take 10% away from 5% of the people you're talking a really small percentage of revenue being taken out of the stream. for people to claim that everything that ails WI is because of <1% of revenue taken out wreaks of a partisan cop out to me.

I know you don't want to look at this nationally but it does come into play. I know business owners in several states and no one wants to hire right now for fear of where we are headed. The attitude from the left that "we are entitled to your money if your rich and successful" along with obamacare has shut hiring down on many fronts. So yes, the slow recovery does ultimately have to do with obama and does affect WI

freddiebell
freddiebell

pete: I would opine the following:

1) I'll take your numbers at face value that the public sector comprises maybe eight percent of the workplace. Even so, what business is there in a competitive marketplace and with low profit margins that can afford to write off upward of ten percent of its potential business? None that I know of. That's not smart commerce. It is in their best interests to promote policies that put money in the pockets of every consumer who can/will walk through their door and acquire their good and services. That eight to ten percent can make the difference in marginal operations staying open vs. closing, between hiring an extra employee or more or none at all, of paying more into local and state tax coffers than less or none at all. We all benefit from that.

2) The <1% argument is well and good for statistical purposes. But it is real people who are impacted by this, not just cold statistics in the abstract. They are just like you and me and with the same life goals and aspirations. It is not insignificant to them, statistically or otherwise. Big, unanticipated cuts make huge differences in their ability to care for their families and have a quality of life we say we desire for one and all in this "greatest country on earth." If we can do better than that, why shouldn't we try?

3) The national issue cuts in both directions. If you are willing to blame Obama for what you feel he has done wrong, will you also give him credit for what he has done right? If economic indicators are up generally, hiring is on the rise, and consumer confidence is growing, does he get any credit for that? If not, then who does? They say a rising tide floats all boats. Well, then, one can easily surmise that any gains registered on Scott Walker's watch can be attributed in part, whether large or small, to whatever success and prosperity Obama has fostered. We need to be consistent here. None of us can have it both ways.

pete
pete

freddiebell - I believe you are off on your numbers. If we can agree that the number is around 10% for number of employees and they have given up 10% then it's a total of 1%.

Ex: 100 people make $100/yr. Total revenue is $10,000. ACT 10 comes along now you have 90 people making $100/yr for $9000 + 10 people making $90/yr. Total revenue now is $9,900. The lost revenue is $100 or 1% of 10,000. I may be over simplifying it, but that's where my math takes me.

Also, you said: ".... have a quality of life we say we desire for one and all in this "greatest country on earth." If we can do better than that, why shouldn't we try?"

While I agree with much of what you said, it's the avenue to get there where we likely disagree. The opportunity is there for each and everyone of us to have a quality life and to fulfill our dreams. Some are willing to work for that life and some feel entitled to it

freddiebell
freddiebell

pete: It is high time we all move away from the mindset -- stereotype, actually -- that public sector workers are lazy people looking for handouts, striving to vacuum the pockets of the private sector with a sense of entitlement; and that by working hard, people magically will realize their dreams and goals. It's not nearly that simple. Lots of public sector workers -- the vast majority of them -- work quite hard and play by the rules. There is plenty of dead wood in the private sector, underworking and underachieving for disproportionately high wages relative to their contributions. The cost of their own laziness and incompetence ultimately is passed on to consumers. There should be accountability. Nevertheless, most private sector workers, too, are good, honest people who do their fair share and more and deserve more and better opportunities. The two sides are not so far apart as some of the hyperpartisan posters try to portray it. It's not really "us vs. them." It is "we." Somebody has to teach the K-12 and university classes. Somebody has to work at DMV. They all are vital services. We all benefit from them, whether directly or indirectly. Job searches and replacements cost valuable time and money. We might as well make it worth their while such that we get the best and brightest to do those jobs and so that they have an incentive to stay if they truly are good at what they do. Good workers always will have other options elsewhere -- those in the public sector no less than in the private.

For my part I don't see public sector workers begrudging the private sector for seeking and getting raises and promotions when they are earned. Or for getting free parking at work. Or annual bonuses. Or fitness center privileges. Or any other perks that some (many?) in the private sector receive and take for granted, but that the public sector usually does not get. But every time there is even a hint of bettering the lot of the public sector, people here come out of the woodwork, screaming that the public sector already is overpaid and underworked, has it too good, that private sector workers are the "taxpayers" and nothing should come out of "their" dime, etc. etc. etc. It is a disingenuous argument. Public sector workers provide needed products and services, from which everyone in society benefits directly and/or indirectly -- including those "taxpayers." Beyond compensation for work performed, it is an investment in the future of the public good, to the benefit of ourselves and, importantly, future generations. It is not a gift, much less a handout. Let's not lose sight of that.

pete
pete

freddiebell said: "However, public sector workers will be locked in at a low rate and without the same potential for advancement. They will have no incentive to strive for excellence, so they will tend not to do so. Mediocrity will be the rule rather than the exception, and Wisconsin will suffer a loss of productivity as a result, with the best and brightest workers leaving for other states and better opportunities elsewhere."

so freddie, if the teachers and other public employees are motivated by the almighty $ (you said it, not me) then why not come up with a merit pay structure like the private sector?

freddiebell
freddiebell

pete: I cannot speak for all public sector employers. But I do know that the UW system has a merit pay plan in place for faculty. The problem is: 1) not all employees are eligible for it (including instructional academic staff, who teach many of the same classes, do unpaid committee and other non-required service, and otherwise regularly perform above their pay grade); and 2) the money is not there for it at present, not after all of the budget cuts and especially the $250 million reduction recently mandated by Scott Walker. What exactly is a merit pay plan when there is no money to pay, and when some of the best employees are not eligible for it? Regarding the latter, UW needs to step up and do the right thing. That is on them. Regarding the former, quite obviously the state needs to raise its game and reward those who do excellent work there, by offering adequate funding to make it possible. Are you willing to hold them accountable in that regard?

pete
pete

If they could find a system that was equitable for both the employees and taxpayers then I'm all in.

ggth
ggth

Why is Walker touting the Recall as a reason for poor economic performance? Money flooded into the State for advertising. And if we were to assume his thesis there should have been a post-election employment surge relative to neighboring States since "We're open for business." Is there any doubt Walker will suddenly find a new jobs performance formula magically showing an increase in employment, and that fiscal austerity helped?

MD505
MD505

Cut in net pay to state and municipal workers no doubt has an effect on local businesses in Wisconsin. If the assumptions in this article is true it highlights the precarious state of Wisconsin Economics (based on old thinking) - relying on (WI) government employees spending money to local businesses. Government employees spending money on service oriented businesses is not an economic model that is sustainable. Think of a circle: state govt pays employee - employee spends money in local economy - local business sends some money back to government. In the circle money drops off with each exchange until nothing is left - or just deficits. Now inject a company that manufactures products sold world wide, or a retail chain that is in half the US. These companies benefit from local spending but also are bringing money from outside Wisconsin borders. Wisconsin needs companies with the ability to make money from outside the states borders (and I am not talking tourism). Wisconsin's problems did not occur overnight - were talking generational. The fixes will not come overnight either.

ggth
ggth

This is a childish (and wrong) way to look at it. In your "circle" the resultant end is money eventually being returned to the government at an eroded fraction of original capital after X circles. This of course ignores the multiplication effect of invested capital. So at a time our State needed an infusion of stimulus (HSR, technology) Walker not only ignored this gift but also went one illogical step further by reducing customer demand.

Instead, Walker opted for corporate tax breaks at a time when companies are operating under capacity. Any company with access to cheap capital (they all do) would already be investing in further capacity if it was financially beneficial. Any kickback or horse trading across State lines is usually destructive, since demand is low and companies are under no obligation to return capital to the local economy.

So it's not hard to see where we're going with this. Walker will "lower taxes on hard working people" even though he just financed tax breaks with long term credit, while almost simultaneously rejecting medicaid funds for poor people. He'll then induce demand for the single most financially eroding form of transportation....the single occupant vehicle. Compounding the problem will be using general funds with no increase in user costs which is just horrific subsidy for awful economics.

MD505
MD505

@ ggth. What is childish and wrong is that you brought emotion into a set of problems that need no further emotions. Your assumption of a multiplication effect of local capital spent at local businesses is text book but, one can easily make the opposite assumption that years of dwindling returns has led the local service business owner to not make 'investment' but simply trying to service years of previous capital investment (debt payments to the bank) Even if we entertained the capital multiplication effect it would have to assume the service business, for example restaurant, is buying kitchen equipment, tables, etc from Wisconsin companies to even remotely come close to my main point.

The problem with a blanket statement against 'horse trading' and assuming ALL companies have all the means necessary to expand where they want is we Wisconsin have to compete against other states offering the same goods. In the 1950s IBM approached Madison Wi and Rochester MN for establishing a 500K sq ft manufacturing facility. Madison told IBM to basically F' off and Rochester gave IBM a small package. OVer 50 years IBM has provided Rochester MN with high paying technical jobs. Do you think Rochester had a net effect from IBM? I think so. The example with IBM and Madison WI is the specific mentality I am talking about.

Wisconsin needs to foster private enterprise whether existing or future development and the mentality of take it or leave it - we are the best doesn't work.

pete
pete

if the hsr would have provided a jolt during construction it would have certainly become an anchor around the necks of the WI taxpayers in the long run. CA is having buyers remorse and their tracks aren't even finished.

At some point a gov't needs an influx from the private sector, much bigger and more robust than the discretionary spending of public employees. If it were so easy to float an economy on stimulus projects and printing more money, why are we currently experiencing the worst recovery to date for a recession? Why do we see the unemployment rate ticking back up towards 8%? Inflating public sector workers pay only devalues the private sector dollar.

Let me ask this, can we agree that proportionately there are more public employees in southern WI? Since Walker took office, car and truck sales have increased by double digits in the southern portion of the state. If consumer demand has been reduced, how do you explain this anomaly?

tomtom33
tomtom33

The net cut was distributed to all taxpayers. The net result was zero.

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

"Some economists think so."
 
In my experience, you can make pretty much any declarative statement you want — "deficits don't matter", "minimum-wage laws cost jobs", "the gold standard works best", "the sun rises in the west" — and safely follow it with the phrase "Some economists think so."

AllAmerican11B
AllAmerican11B

ROFL!!!!!!!!!!

Very well said!

truegangsteroflove
truegangsteroflove

It is rare to see such a detailed analysis in either of Madison's newspapers, and nonexistent in the State Journal. Most telling is at the very end, where economist Kenneth Thomas mentioned Walker's gifts of $600 million to private businesses in 2011, money that could have been used to hire much needed state workers and teachers. His estimate is 9500 workers, at an average salary and benefit package of $63,000.

This is evidence, along with looking at sources of Walker's campaign finances, of crony capitalism - a pay-for-play system of rewarding campaign donors with many times more than what they paid from Wisconsin taxpayers. You won't hear this from the supposed "Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance."

Like Watergate, something will break the dam of demagoguery and propaganda, holding back an expanding lake of corruption. A scandal, an accomplice who "sings," the economy sinking further, or something completely accidental. Walker's scheme is a house of cards. If one card falls, the entire house falls. It will likely be a windy spring.

Muffi
Muffi

The right is spinning furiously, claiming that Walker's "making Wisconsin take its needed budget medicine" to fill the "$30 million hole in the budget" that he himself created with his political payback to his contributors by giving massively greater tax cuts to corporations, farms, and high income taxpayers.

There was no hole in the budget. Wisconsin, like all states, must balance its budget every year, so Walker didn't inherit any hole in the budget.

The pro-Walker right has been posting repeatedly, crowing about how much their property taxes went down. It's just Walker income redistribution at the expense of low-income taxpayers, to the benefit of high-income taxpayers.

The Homestead Credit, which was created to allow fixed-income people to stay in their homes, was slashed by Walker.

I pay around $7,500 in rent and Walker slashed my Homestead Credit by $270. I lost about 25% of my Homestead Credit. In other words, my property taxes paid as part of my rent went up by $270.

That's $270 that I won't be able to spend in the Wisconsin economy. As a fixed income resident, I spend almost everything I make on essentials and bills.

As usual, voodoo economics runs the republican party. Cutting taxes for corporations and high income individuals doesn't lead to increased employment and higher incomes for low income earners. Trickle down economics don't work. The rich and corporations don't spend money and hire unless they can sell their products and services.

Slashing funds out of the state economy slashes consumer spending for goods and services.

If I were an out of state business owner, I wouldn't consider moving to a state with no respect for its workers or public education.

"Open for business?" Hardly. More like driving business away.

Acapitalidea
Acapitalidea

High speed rail would have been a monumental boost for Wisconsin's economy and avoided an expensive law suit by Talgo the train maker. "A hole big enough to drive a high speed train through it" is the way Scott Walker's head was described after he gave $800 million back to the federal government. What a self-motivated simpleton we have for a governor.

Barb10242
Barb10242

Amen to that Acap! Much better to have trains than pinning our hopes on the fewer than 25 jobs per year the mine will provide!

tomtom33
tomtom33

Ask California how well the HSR is going. Walker clearly campaigned on killing HSR. The voters agreed.

Acapitalidea
Acapitalidea

But we're talking about Wisconsin's economy, not California's. If the money would have come from a Republican administration, we'd have HSR.

ggth
ggth

This is not complicated. WI does not have the customers to move the economy. Providing tax incentives to large corporations does nothing when they are already running efficiently with weak demand. Walker missed some generational stimulus opportunities in HSR and wind technologies. His ideologies prevented him from accepting over a $1 billion that would help transform the State.

So, now his formula will be to build highways "without raising taxes." Which of course is a joke. His pound of highway flesh will be extracted from the poor through further service cuts, combined with yet another round of long-term financing and legacy costs.

Harvey
Harvey

When the Republicans say they have to put more money into the rich job creators, I think to myself "How many jobs did Paris Hilton and Donald Trump create last year?"

A dUb
A dUb

"New estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Wisconsin ranking a dismal 49th in the growth of its service sector last year. Only West Virginia and New Mexico were worse." What industry is WV known for? Oh yeah, mining...

Barb10242
Barb10242

Good point A dUb!

Comment deleted.
AllAmerican11B
AllAmerican11B

LOL!!!!!!!

It's new math!

freddiebell
freddiebell

"Where the state is badly lagging is in the retail trade, food service, transportation and business services sectors — areas related more directly to consumer spending."

True enough. But the impact goes well beyond that. In the wake of Act 10, how many public sector workers have had to put off plans to do home improvements and remodeling? Opted out of lawn care and snow removal services? Postponed auto purchases and needed repairs/maintenance? The list could go on and on.

These adjustments have a direct impact upon the bottom line of small businesses all over the state -- so many of which embrace the Walker reforms as necessary for their economic best interests. It is not that simple. The reality of the situation is, we are all in an economic symbiotic relationship. We all rely upon each other for prosperity, progress, and growth. By placing a disproportionate financial burden upon one class of people for problems they largely did not create in the first place, it inevitably has a ripple effect elsewhere. Choices have consequences, for better or for worse. Based on the evidence at hand, it is reasonable to conclude that Scott Walker made the fast choice, rather than the smart choice, at the time. The impact will be felt for years to come.

Ken from Mineral Point
Ken from Mineral Point

"True enough. But the impact goes well beyond that. In the wake of Act 10, how many public sector workers have had to put off plans to do home improvements and remodeling? Opted out of lawn care and snow removal services? Postponed auto purchases and needed repairs/maintenance? The list could go on and on."

Was there a trade-off in this, with more money being available to the non-public-sector-worker-taxpayers due to the cuts?

freddiebell
freddiebell

Ken:

The better question is, what have those private sector "taxpayers" (lest we forget: public sector workers are taxpayers too) done with the proceeds of Act 10 to offset the losses to public sector workers and their spending power/consumerism, and how is the state better off for it? And, what is the "trade off" for giving disincentives for public sector workers to do their best and most productive work, driving their morale into the ground, and encouraging the best and brightest of them to move to other states for employment when they have freedom of choice? Please tell us. As I've done elsewhere here, I invite you to share with us how we are better off for taking money from them when they would spend it on us all, to give to others who are not spending it at the same rate or, worse, are simply sitting on it and taking it out of circulation.

Ken from Mineral Point
Ken from Mineral Point

freddie:

Far from forgetting that public employees are taxpayers too, my wording was deliberately chosen to point that fact out. But, that point made, public employees are only a small part of Wisconsin's taxpayer base - which was actually the basis for my question.

Which, by the way, was meant as a question. Not a loaded question, a rhetorical question nor a partisan one. I was merely wondering what others thought and why they thought it.

Thank you for your response. While I might've hoped for a somewhat less partisan and condescending reply, your response does lay your position out quite well.

freddiebell
freddiebell

Ken: re your comment below ... no offense intended. If I misunderstood your premise, then I apologize for that. But I don't see it as "partisan and condescending." I call it "defensive." I don't know how much of these discussions you have monitored over time, but what some people have said in these pages about public sector workers over the last two years has been absolutely shameful. Someone needs to have their back. They are good, honest, hard-working people who by and large did not create the economic mess we all are in. They do not deserve to be vilified for something they did not do, and for trying to make ends meet like everybody else with the same basic needs. For the record, the same holds true of many private sector workers, who have done much well and right and also have been disproportionately impacted compared with upper management in the corporate structure, among others more shielded from the downturn. They, too, deserve better. I'm not quite as partisan as you might think. But I do think that public sector workers have it worse in this state, and have been held too accountable. That "us vs. them" mindset to me is the worst aspect of what Scott Walker did with his "divide and conquer" (his own words) strategy. It did not have to come to that. Really, we all are in this together.

graefental
graefental

Did you get a tax cut? That money went to the likes of the Koch brothers and Diane Hendricks as payback for their support of Walker.

Ken from Mineral Point
Ken from Mineral Point

This is what I am trying to ascertain. If the money saved by Walkers moves benefited many Wisconsinites or merely business and supporters. Facts are not as easy to come by as I thought they'd be.

tomtom33
tomtom33

Whether we have a cut or less of an increase, 100% of the money comes from us.

196ski
196ski

Ken, to answer your question below, it is not a question of the money Walker saved because in reality he saved very little. What he did do is compensate for the loss of 1 billion dollars in revenue from the Federal Stimulus legislation that was spent on Medicaid. From Wistax:

"Federal Medicaid funding for Wisconsin will be more than $1 billion less in 2011-13 than in 2009-11. As a result, general fund tax dollars are needed just to maintain current spending. In fact, general fund spending at the Department of Health Services—the state’s Medicaid agency—is $1.4 billion (32.5%) more than 2010-11 base spending. With school aids accounting for the biggest chunk of GPR spending (about 40% in 2009-11), lawmakers looked there for money to fund Medicaid."

This is ignored by many but is the key to understanding what Walker did during his development of the 11-13 Budget. ONE BILLION dollars in Federal money was removed from the Wisconsin Economy. That ultimately hurt everyone. Walkers choice, allow the cuts to Medicaid or make the cuts elsewhere in the budget. What ever choice he made the impact would have hurt the Wisconsin economy. He made the choice to protect Medicaid recipients, those hurting the most, and make the cuts in Education and public sector workers thru Act 10.

It should be noted that raising taxes, something Walker said he would not do, would have also hurt the State's economy.

It boils down to this, if you oppose the cuts Walker made in education and thru Act 10 do you think those cuts should have been made to Medicaid? Or should taxes be raised?

Who ever decides to run against Walker is going to have to have to run on a platform that either restores Education and repeals Act 10 by making cuts to programs like Medicaid or raising taxes in an already highly taxed State. This will be a very hard sell to the citizens of the State.

Ken from Mineral Point
Ken from Mineral Point

Thank you for the informative response. I had not heard much of this and it gives me more data to google and glean through.

Fur94
Fur94

Since 2011, I've shared the same concerns of the economists. I thought the cut to the public workers disposable income would have a greater negative effect then the smaller and less visible increase to taxpayers income. While nobody likes taxes, the reality is most people don't compare what they actually paid to a theoretical amount, nor do they pool and increase their spending by the same amount. Most property owners saw a tax bill pretty similar for the past two years, and so they spent at the same rate. The public workers saw smaller checks, and cut back.

I don't buy the arguments that the recall is the main cause of the slow growth. The chart in the article seems to have blanked out the dates on my computer, but based on the date range, it looks like every mark is around the first of the year, and so it looks like Wisconsin's job growth flattened out before the recall election (in early 2011). While I think the recall could have been a concern with some businesses, I don't believe it would have been for most. Plus, if there were recall concerns, they should have been put at ease last summer, and I would expect a sharper increase near the end of the chart.

Finally, I think the quote at the end is the point I agree with strongest. While it is harder to do, a long term approach is the best way to move forward. I think we've lost that focus in our private sector, and some of our problems are due to it. Outsourcing may boost profits for a few years, but it cuts into a customer base, and often results in inferior products that cuts further. Cuts to Research and Development departments may show some savings, but remove the chance to develop the next big it. I don't think a State is going to end that trend, but should learn from it, and not make the same mistakes.

saunaaiti
saunaaiti

I live in a small community in northern Wisconsin. I see the effects of what this governor has done with the amount of businesses that have closed since 2010. Many businesses have cut their hours as well. These businesses managed to stay open through the beginning of the Recession, but not after 2011. Less money in the public sectors' pockets is doing exactly what Mr. Ivey stated--weakening the local economy. As retired public workers, my husband and I rarely go out to eat anymore because our retirement was also affected by the actions of this administration. When we do go out to eat, we now share something. We don't have money to spend on extras like treats at the local bakery, buying an accessory for the house at the gift shop, buying books (the love of my life) at the book store, buying paint, etc. I have quit subscribing to two newspapers--one of them the local paper-- as well. And we see the results: more businesses closing. I also travel to Wausau and St. Paul frequently. Once again, I notice more businesses closing or cutting back on their hours. The economic impact is evident all across the Northwoods of taking $2 billion out of the economy.

Porter
Porter

ditto in SW Wisconsin

freddiebell
freddiebell

Exactly. There is no question that there is a ripple effect to Act 10, and it is enduring. The difference is, when times get better, private sector workers will be able to ask for raises, seek promotions, and have other economic opportunities open to them as the fruit of jobs well done. That is as it should be. However, public sector workers will be locked in at a low rate and without the same potential for advancement. They will have no incentive to strive for excellence, so they will tend not to do so. Mediocrity will be the rule rather than the exception, and Wisconsin will suffer a loss of productivity as a result, with the best and brightest workers leaving for other states and better opportunities elsewhere. Those things will be the lasting legacy of Act 10, and clearly not for better.

snowman2795
snowman2795

A few points to ponder. First, the Walker administration actually increased spending by over a billion dollars. It did so on the backs of the poor and working poor taking real spending out of the economy giving it to the so-called Ayn Rand 'job creators' who took a vacation with their money.

Second, the so-called 'surplus' is due to Walker stealing $100 million the feds gave him to help those who were robbed by the banksters through the mortgage fraud, and then borrowing $558 million to carry his administration through the next two years as revenues are flat. So while not technically a deficit, borrowing money to keep the lights on is not a good plan, as the debt will cost $166 million to service.

Third, the recent Be Bold 2 report notes Phd's and Master's degree folks are fleeing the Walker kingdom in droves. Which means fewer patents and fewer business start-ups leaving "Would you like fries with that?" jobs.

Fer example, Minnesota has a $6 thousand a year per capita higher income than Wisconsin. They have more highly qualified workers, file more patents and create more technology.

Technology companies are more interested in work-force quality than tax breaks or credits. Unfortunately, the Republican attack on education is only making a bad situation all the worse.

At the heart of it, is our drop-out Governor, who in legitimate and prideful ignorance doesn't know what he doesn't know. But he has a supply of square pegs for round holes and that is just fine as far as he knows.

tomtom33
tomtom33

If spending is increased, it is done on the backs of the poor? Should we then cut spending?

AllAmerican11B
AllAmerican11B

Stop it, you're going to confuse them!

Observer5
Observer5

Just wait til the mine is up and running. That will turn everything around - yeah, that's the ticket.

A dUb
A dUb

One of the only states doing worse is WV. It's too bad they don't have any mines there.

uwjeff
uwjeff

What a bunch of biaes BS in this article.......'this' says it all: " But University of Missouri economist Thomas is skeptical of government subsidies to private business in general. He notes that for the $600 million Wisconsin handed out to private business in 2011, it could have hired more than 9,500 state workers, each at an average salary and benefit package of $63,000."

Yeah............just what we need 'MORE' State workers ?!??!??! These policy wonks literally have no clue

I know.....it must be 'me'......if only I could see their wisdom - why can't we be like that great state to our south.......the GREAT and AWESOME State of Illinois ......now there's an example of goverment operation and budgeting at it's finest !!

Fur94
Fur94

I think the point isn't that we need more state workers, but that the money should have some significant and visible effects if it was being used as intended. If the state could created 9,500 jobs (at a pretty good salary/benefit package level), then the private sector businesses should be able to document the same number or even more.

pete
pete

interesting points from ivey's article a few days ago:

"The report shows that job growth in Wisconsin has largely trailed the nation as a whole since 1996.

Specifically, Wisconsin has outperformed the U.S. in only 28 of the past 102 months. That is a major change from 1986 to 1993 when, mainly under Gov. Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin added jobs faster than the national average for 87 consecutive months.

WISTAX says a key factor is simple demographics, with birth rates and population growth in Wisconsin long trailing U.S. averages. The number of residents in the 18-to-64 “working age” bracket grew just 5.9 percent last year vs. 9.3 percent nationally.

But Wisconsin also lags in launching new businesses, with company formation here at 2.2 percent last year, second worst in the nation behind Iowa. The national average was 2.9 percent.

New company creation is vital because all data show the strong correlation with job growth. From 1997-2007, states with the lowest rates of firm creation tended to have the slowest rates of job growth, WISTAX reports."

obama's policies haven't worked in 4+ years but nav and others demand walker's policies work in less than two.

We are in the worst recovery nationally in 70 years folks, the unemployment rate is about to go back to 8%+, again historic. 8.5 million fewer people working than when obama took office but hey, it's all good. We just got word from the White House yesterday that killing American Citizens via drones is not only legal but ethical. Remember how ticked the left was when GW tapped phone lines???? Oh yeah, they can still do that too.

Fur94
Fur94

re:"obama's policies haven't worked in 4+ years but nav and others demand walker's policies work in less than two. "

While I agree that 2 years is too short of a time frame, I think it was an implied part of the Republican's campaigns in 2010. The argument seemed to be along the lines of "Obama's had two years and hasn't fixed it, elect us and we'll show you how it's done." I think the campaign tactic backfired, and that partly explains the 2012 elections, and this economic review.

Rosalie
Rosalie

I don't think Walker's "divide and conquer" strategy which has led to so much animosity among the state's citizens has helped the business climate much either.

mojo
mojo

“They had to balance the budget one way or another,” says Dale Knapp, researcher with the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. “If they had used tax increases to balance the budget, then maybe public employees would have had more money in their pockets. But other taxpayers would have had less.”

But Dale, if public employees had more money in their pockets to spend, wouldn't their spending benefit those in the retail, service and other sectors? And, wouldn't public employees having more money in their pockets to spend -- and increasing the income of those in the aforementioned sectors -- generate more tax income for the state?

pete
pete

How much more? To what end? Give us an amount that would have made you happy because in a year you would have demanded more. (before the cuts the public employees thought they were underpaid) Then what? You can't artificially inflate a sector of the population's salary and not have some sort of inflation to kick in.

That's now our benchmark, restaurant and retail jobs is what we're shooting for?

And for those clamoring for the good ole days of houses being put up on every empty patch of dirt and a new car in every driveway, isn't that precisely what got us here in the first place??? Yea, now I get it, lets go back to that.....

freddiebell
freddiebell

Strawman argument, pete. I'll turn it around on you. How many more cuts to public sector workers, with no corresponding mandatory private sector sacrifice, do we need to get the state back on its feet? If you are worried about inflation if public sector workers get better compensation ... has your cost of living gone down since Act 10 went into effect? Are restaurant and retail jobs any less essential or important to our overall economic engine than other work? Do you never eat out or go shopping? If the housing bubble, banks making bad and irresponsible loans, and corporate corruption had a major hand in creating our shared economic pain, why shouldn't they bear the burden of sacrifice more than public sector workers who had little to no hand in that?

Please tell us precisely how taking money out of the pockets of good, hard working people who will spend it and foster economic prosperity across the spectrum will benefit us all, while under Act 10 others take it out of circulation and/or give it to "job creators" (who aren't really that unless they are, y'know, creating jobs) who underutilize it or simply keep it in their pockets to recoup their earlier losses. Please show us, with empirical evidence, how that is the case. I don't see the logic of it.

tomtom33
tomtom33

It is a wash. Either the taxpayers have more or the public employees have more. The difference is zero.

sherlock
sherlock

Public employees are taxpayers too. We pay federal taxes, medicare taxes, fica taxes, real estate taxes

Liberalsmakesense
Liberalsmakesense

What a colossal mistake Wisconsin voters made electing these Republicans who do not share our values. I hope we will not make the same mistake again. Elections start in 2014 people, so get ready.

Barb10242
Barb10242

Ready, willing and able, Liberal!

Muffi
Muffi

With the FitzWalker redistrictin gerrymander of all the Senatorial and Assembly Districts, I'm not optimistic about restoring balance and Wisconsin values by defeating republicans.

Redistricting has created custom districts that are computer database perfect to within city block accuracy, to ensure republican majority rule for a decade.

Liberalsmakesense
Liberalsmakesense

Muffi, district compositions change. There will not be many safe districts for the Republicans in five years.

spooky tooth
spooky tooth

The cuts to schools had the effect Walker wanted, starve and eventually kill public education. He thinks he's won, WI kids get the shaft.

The other cuts are typical republican, Supply Side (Trickle Down) Economics. TDS Custom Construction would like to hire but, doesn't have the business. There is no Demand Side, people in WI don't have any money.

Nav
Nav

This newspaper has been reporting so accurately. The voters of Wisconsin need to now REALIZE who they voted in office, and start thinking how to get them OUT of office. Our state is being destroyed in so many ways.

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