Walker spins facts to make himself loo good, but fails to lead our state towards progressHere’s some fast facts about Gov. Scott Walker:
- Walker’s administration knew about alleged abuses at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys, a juvenile prison in northern Wisconsin, for almost a year. Those abuses were physical and sexual in nature, and the turning point to do anything about it for Walker apparently came earlier this month when guards crushed a kid’s foot in a door, resulting in the youth requiring amputation of his toes.
- Three DA’s in Wisconsin are planning to appeal the John Doe decision delivered by the state Supreme Court that said collusion between third party political interest groups and political candidates in state elections could conspire together to avoid laws regulating donation limits. That’s exactly what Walker did during his recall campaign, when he encouraged millionaire donors to give to third party groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth, which could receive unlimited sums of campaign money, unlike the candidate Walker himself who was bound by campaign limits.
- The Walker administration was caught red-handed in trying to skirt open records laws by encouraging members to text message each other rather than email or use otherwise traceable means of discussing proposed legislation. Two former members of Team Walker admitted they were told to use such means in order to avoid open records requests during their time working for the governor.
- A recent jobs report shows Wisconsin is once again behind the rest of the nation when it comes to jobs growth. In fact, since Walker’s first budget went into effect in June of 2011, we’ve grown jobs slower than 36 other states and DC, and are dead last in the Midwest in jobs growth during that time.
Wisconsin is thankfully starting to realize Walker’s failure as a leader as well -- recent polling from the Marquette Law School shows that less than four in ten residents approve of the way Walker is handling his job in office, and 58 percent of Wisconsinites disapprove of his management skills overall (PDF).
So when bad news dominates the headlines, Walker of course does what comes naturally to him: he spins.
This weekend Walker penned an opinion piece called “The Wisconsin Comeback.” Sound familiar? It’s the same mantra he repeated over and over again during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign against Democratic candidate Mary Burke.
And much like that campaign, Walker again spins the facts into positives, even though they’re not that great to begin with.
On taxes, Walker says, “Middle-class taxpayers are better off in Wisconsin today than we were five years ago.”
But it’s really not that drastic of a change. In 2014, for instance, a middle class married household earning $60,000 paid $3,565.71 to the state on their income taxes. In 2010, they paid a little more (an additional $110), but nothing substantially different in the time span that Walker is talking about. The savings are about $2 per week of work, or about $9 per month.
Meanwhile, the state is facing billions of dollars in budget deficits, and many services that Wisconsin has traditionally provided for citizens are facing drastic cuts.
Walker also brags about jobs growth in his column -- on the same day that the slow jobs report came out, no less. “The 45,100 new private sector jobs added October over October is statistically significant,” he writes.
There's just one problem: those jobs numbers come from a series of monthly estimates that Walker himself has called unreliable in the past. They are frequently revised, and as Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse points out, “we are down 10,000 total jobs from where we thought we were” using Walker’s numbers in his column.
The third strike? Gov. Walker pretends that he’s a friend to college students. “For the first time in University of Wisconsin history, in-state tuition is frozen at all UW campuses for four years in a row. That makes college more affordable for our students and working families.”
But tuition freezes don’t make college more affordable -- in fact, in the long run they make things worse. Even with the freeze in place, the average graduate of a UW System school faces more than $22,000 in debt. Tuition freezes don’t fix the problem -- like stopping a faucet in a clogged sink, there’s still a mess in the pipes to deal with. But Walker won’t call the plumber, calling it “a job well done” without actually fixing things at all.
The Wisconsin Comeback that Walker touts is nothing but spun nonsense. Some will choose to believe Walker’s spin. For the rest of the state, we’re left dealing with Walker’s messes until he leaves office.