Saturday, December 10, 2016

Jesse Kremer thinks college campuses -- safer than his own hometown -- need concealed carry

Kremer wants guns in campuses, but evidence shows concealed carry doesn't make state safer

State Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) really wants guns to be allowed in college classrooms.

Current policy at university campuses across the state allows students to carry weapons to classes and about campus itself. But universities are granted discretion on whether concealed carry within buildings will be tolerated. Many have opted to place signs outside of their buildings stating that no concealed weapons would be allowed indoors.

This is the right of the universities to do. But Kremer wants to change that. Last year, he introduced a bill that would have done away with the right of campuses to discourage concealed carry inside their buildings, but the bill went nowhere. He intends to submit the bill again this year to an even more conservative state legislature.

He defended his position in a forum recently in Madison. From the Daily Cardinal:
Kremer argues students might face violence within classrooms that they would then be unable to protect themselves against.
Kremer may need to check out the FBI Crime statistics, because campuses are one of the safest places to be on a per capita basis. In fact, the rate of crime on UW-Madison, UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee campuses are safer than the village Kremer hails from.

The violent crime rates listed below demonstrate as much:

The rates above indicate that not only are campuses extremely safe places to be at, but that they’re also safer than Kewaskum is by huge margins. Even the campus at UW-Milwaukee, nestled in a city with high crime rates, is 2.7 times safer than Kewaskum on a per capita basis.

Kremer’s obsession with guns has resulted in his submitting legislation in the past (and likely future) that is, in reality, a solution in search of a problem. The campuses are already safe, and concealed carry won’t suddenly make them safer.

That’s a fact that Kremer won’t likely acknowledge. He continues to peddle concealed carry as a way to reduce crime and make Wisconsinites safer. Does he know that Wisconsin actually saw an increase of crime after concealed carry passed, including a 72 percent increase in the murder rate, debunking the deterrence rationale completely? It’s hard to tell.

One thing we can be certain of, however, is that we don’t need Kremer’s proposal to become law. It’s not needed, it’s not wanted, and his obsession needs to be quelled.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Six years on, Walker’s failed jobs promise should be remembered

State would have created 55,000 additional jobs if it had kept pace with US average

Scott Walker made a very ambitious claim more than six years ago during his first campaign for governor. He claimed that, if elected, his policies would create 250,000 private sector jobs in his first term in office.

It’s important to remember a promise like that because Walker was elected, in large part, because of it. At the time his critics lambasted him for pulling the number out of thin air. Walker chose the number specifically because it had been done in the past, but his six-point plan didn’t explain specifically how he had arrived at the number for himself -- even when it was blown up to size 50-font to make it 68 pages long (yes, that actually happened).

We're six years out from that promise, so Wisconsin should be in pretty good shape by now...right?

The newest quarterly jobs report was released this week, detailing job gains in all fifty states, plus DC, from June 2015 to June 2016. Where does Wisconsin rank?

In officially creating 25,105 private sector jobs during that time, Wisconsin is ranked 31st among the states and DC. Heck, Wisconsin is even behind the U.S. Virgin Islands from June 2015 to June 2016. The territory created jobs at a rate of 1.04 percent from year-to-year; Wisconsin’s rate was 1.02 percent. Overall, the U.S. grew jobs at about 1.5 percent year-over-year.

The second quarter federal jobs report shows that the economy in Wisconsin is still struggling more than six years since Gov. Scott Walker’s promise to make the state a leader in jobs growth. The promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first four years is a failed one, even with two and a half more years to get the job done.

The second quarter jobs report provides an additional advantage for observation: it was in the second quarter of 2011 that Scott Walker’s first Republican rubber-stamped budget went into effect. We can easily see how Wisconsin under Walker’s watch has done, and compare it against the rest of the nation during that five year period.

Since 2011, Wisconsin has grown private sector jobs at a rate of 6.99 percent. That’s an average rate of growth of about 1.4 percent per year.

That sounds pretty decent, but don’t celebrate quite yet: the U.S. rate of private sector jobs growth during that same timeframe was about 9.39 percent, or about 1.88 percent per year. In other words, the rest of the nation has, on average, created jobs at a rate that’s 34 percent faster than Wisconsin.

If we had created jobs at the national average rate, Wisconsin would have created more than 55,000 additional jobs over the past five years. But we didn’t create jobs at the national rate -- and have instead seen 20 consecutive quarters of below-average jobs growth in the state since Walker’s first budget took effect.

Scott Walker said in 2011 that his top three priorities for the state would be “jobs, jobs, and jobs.” Yet Wisconsin has fallen behind the rest of the nation on every private sector jobs metric. It's important to remember his promises from six years ago, because apparently they don't matter to the governor anymore.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Scott Walker is wrong to suggest changes to recount law

The law is meant to give every candidate assurances of a sound and fair election

After attending the Christmas tree lighting at the state Capitol, Scott Walker spoke to reporters on the need to change the recount process in Wisconsin.

“It’s certainly something to look at,” Walker told reporters.

Here we go again.

Walker has, in the past, spoken on the need to change the John Doe law and the Government Accountability Board (though only after he received what he deemed as unfavorable treatment from those respective institutions). Not that’s it’s news to anyone who pays enough attention, but when Walker (or any of his surrogates) says “let’s change something,” it’s expected that his Republican-run legislature will go after it on command.

The bells are ringing, and it’s only a matter of time before GOP legislators react to Walker’s recent calls for changing the recount.

On that issue, Walker added to his comments above, “To me, it seems like a recount is most valuable if you think it was close and you want to challenge it to make sure that all the votes that were legitimate and legal were cast.”

A lot of people may agree with that sentiment, and it’s a reasonable way to look at how one should generally use the recount. But it’s also not a decision for Walker, nor anyone else, to make.

If a candidate believes there’s a need for a recount, they have the right to challenge the results of an election that they’re involved with. It doesn’t matter if that’s Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein, or anyone else -- any and every candidate has the right to receive assurances that the election was sound, conducted fairly for all parties (and voters) involved.

There are conditions to this. A candidate who isn’t within 0.25 percent of the winner doesn’t have the right to request a state-funded recount -- they must provide the funding themselves.

Green Party candidate for president Jill Stein did precisely that. The state bears no expense toward the recount, and she is using the law exactly as it was intended.

Walker is free to gripe about the recount, but he’s wrong to suggest that the law needs changing.