We’ve heard about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s war on workers.
We’ve heard about Scott Walker’s war on women.
But what about Scott Walker’s war on Illinois?
The governor went to Springfield two weeks ago to tell Illinois business leaders that their state should do it his way. Walker’s argument was that Illinois was getting everything wrong and that Wisconsin was getting everything right when it came to job growth.
As he has for the past year in Florida, Arizona, Texas, California and other states, Walker was trying to export his approach to governing: attacks on public employees, deep cuts in education and training, the undermining of public services, and the rejection of federal support for transportation and broadband Internet development.
That, Walker said, is the way to create jobs.
Then reality set in.
The Bloomberg business news service, not exactly a liberal institution, ran a story headlined, “Republican Whipping-Boy Illinois Beats Wisconsin on Jobs.”
It reported: “Illinois ranked third while Wisconsin placed 42nd in the most recent Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States index, which includes personal income, tax revenue and employment. Illinois gained 32,000 jobs in the 12 months ending in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found. Wisconsin, where Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs with the help of business-tax breaks, lost 16,900.”
Several days later, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over the past year, Wisconsin had the worst job losses in the United States. Indeed, Wisconsin was the only state in the nation to experience “statistically significant” job losses over the period. Wisconsin led the nation with a 0.9 percent decrease in employment.
Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012, according to the BLS study. No other state lost more than 3,500 jobs. In fact, 27 states and the District of Columbia saw significant job increases.
And, of course, Illinois was among the states that were gaining.
As Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn explained on MSNBC’s “Ed Show” on the night the BLS report came out: “Wisconsin is dead last in job growth. Don’t listen to Scott Walker if you want to get jobs in your state.”We sure haven’t listened to him.”
In a recent statement Quinn said, “While Governor Walker might be fond of anti-worker and tea party rhetoric, the facts aren’t on his side.” Describing Walker as “an ideologue,” Quinn said his approach differs from the Walker way.
Quinn’s philosophy is: “You have to honor the workers of our country, whether they work in the private sector or public sector. They’re the heart and soul of America and ‘made in America’ are my favorite words.”
Quinn is right. But with due respect to our friend from Illinois, those are also the favorite words of a lot of Wisconsinites. Our momentary challenge is that Wisconsin has a governor who is busy picking fights with workers, public education, public services and other states — fights that led to last week’s most devastating headline: “State Job Losses Worst in U.S.”
John Nichols is the associate editor of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org