1. Governor Walker is a LIAR.
Wisconsin's Pension Fund isn't in trouble.
In fact, Wisconsin's Pension Fund Among Nation's Healthiest
While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has painted a dire picture of his state's pension obligations, Wisconsin's pension fund for public employees is among the nation's strongest, according to a report by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
The Pew report, issued last year, concluded that Wisconsin is a "national leader in managing its long-term liabilities for both pension and retiree health care." Walker has cited the fund's lack of sustainability as grounds for his plan to revoke collective bargaining rights for state employees, but that proposal has sparked outrage among state employees and drawn tens of thousands of protesters to the state's capitol.
"We're going to ask our state and local workers ... to pay a little bit more, to sacrifice, to help to balance this budget," Walker said in a Sunday interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, adding that he would be forced to lay off 5,000 to 6,000 state employees if his budget plan was not approved, as well as a comparable number of local public employees.
But the Wisconsin pension fund is simply not in fiscal trouble. Its managers weren't burned by subprime mortgage assets or mortgage-backed securities as the housing bubble collapsed. The fund also relies on an automated dividend system, which pays out benefits in years the system is making gains while restricting payouts in years when it takes losses. And while the pension fund had a rough year during 2008 due to stock market losses, it remains robust, both in terms of fundamental financial stability and in comparison to other state pension programs.
According to the Pew study, Wisconsin had about $77 billion in total pension liabilities in 2008. But according to that same Pew study, those liabilities were 99.67 percent "funded," giving Wisconsin one of the four-highest of such ratios in the nation. Other states had funding ratios as low as 54 percent. For comparison, expert analysts and the Government Accountability Office consider an 80 percent level to be a good benchmark for pension fund stability, while Fitch Ratings considers 70 percent adequate.
He lied about the budget. He inherited a BUDGET SURPLUS that turned into a budget deficit because of TAX BREAKS that he gave to his friends.
2. He's a paid stooge of the Koch Brothers.
From the NYTimes
Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute
By ERIC LIPTON
Published: February 21, 2011
Among the thousands of demonstrators who jammed the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds this weekend was a well-financed advocate from Washington who was there to voice praise for cutting state spending by slashing union benefits and bargaining rights.
The visitor, Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, told a large group of counterprotesters who had gathered Saturday at one edge of what otherwise was a mostly union crowd that the cuts were not only necessary, but they also represented the start of a much-needed nationwide move to slash public-sector union benefits.
“We are going to bring fiscal sanity back to this great nation,” he said.
What Mr. Phillips did not mention was that his Virginia-based nonprofit group, whose budget surged to $40 million in 2010 from $7 million three years ago, was created and financed in part by the secretive billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch.
State records also show that Koch Industries, their energy and consumer products conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., was one of the biggest contributors to the election campaign of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who has championed the proposed cuts.
Even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown, Mr. Phillips said in an interview on Monday.
More from The Cap Times:
Koch brothers quietly open lobbying office in downtown Madison
The billionaire brothers whose political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker $43,000 and helped fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent during the 2010 gubernatorial election have quietly opened a lobbying office in Madison just off the Capitol Square.
Charles and David Koch, who co-own Koch Industries Inc. and whose combined worth is estimated at $43 billion, have been recently tied with Walker's push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers. The two have long backed conservative causes and groups including Americans for Prosperity, which organized the Tea Party rally Saturday in support of Walker's plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights and recently launched the Stand with Scott Walker website.
The lobbyists for Koch Companies Public Sector registered with the state on January 5, two days after Walker's inauguration.
The expanded lobbying effort by the Koch brothers in Wisconsin raises red flags in particular because of a little discussed provision in Walker's repair bill that would allow Koch Industries and other private companies to purchase state-owned power plants in no-bid contracts.
"It's curious that the Kochs have apparently expanded their lobbying presence just as Walker was sworn into office and immediately before a budget was unveiled that would allow the executive branch unilateral power to sell off public utilities in this state in no-bid contracts," says Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy.
And what do they get in return for their ownership of Walker?
The Less Discussed Part of Walker’s Wisconsin Plan: No-Bid Energy Assets Firesales.
Have you heard about 16.896?
The fight in Wisconsin is over Governor Walker’s 144-page Budget Repair Bill. The parts everyone is focusing on have to do with the right to collectively bargain being stripped from public sector unions (except for the unions that supported Walker running for Governor). Focusing on this misses a large part of what the bill would do. Check out this language, from the same bill (my bold):
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).
The bill would allow for the selling of state-owned heating/cooling/power plants without bids and without concern for the legally-defined public interest. This excellent catch is from Ed at ginandtacos.com (who, speaking of Madison, took me to the Essen Haus on my 21st birthday, where the night began to go sideways). Ed correctly notes:
If this isn’t the best summary of the goals of modern conservatism, I don’t know what is. It’s like a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism. Extra bonus points for the explicit effort to legally redefine the term “public interest” as “whatever the energy industry lobbyists we appoint to these unelected bureaucratic positions say it is.”
In case it isn’t clear where the naked cronyism comes in, remember which large, politically active private interest loves buying up power plants and already has considerable interests in Wisconsin. Then consider their demonstrated eagerness to help Mr. Walker get elected and bus in carpetbaggers to have a sad little pro-Mubarak style “rally” in his honor. There are dots to be connected here, but doing so might not be in the public interest.
It’s important to think of this battle as a larger one over the role of the state. The attempt to break labor is part of the same continuous motion as saying that the crony, corporatist selling of state utilities to the Koch brothers and other energy interests is the new “public interest.”
That's right....NO BID CONTRACTS for utilities.
That's the free market working?
NO BID CONTRACTS?
3. He's a BULLY.
In the beginning, he threatened to sic the National Guard on the protestors.
Then, he threatened to sic the State Troopers on the AWOL Dem State Senators...like they could send Troopers into ANOTHER STATE to bring them back.
Make no mistake....the UNIONS had already given in financial concessions.
This isn't about FINANCIAL CONCESSIONS....he already has that.
This is about STRIPPING THE UNIONS OF THEIR RIGHT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAIN.
But, here's the latest from the bully:
Scott Walker To Democrats: Come Home Or The Workers Get It
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) took to the state airwaves Tuesday evening to offer another defense of his controversial budget package, which includes a provision that would strip many state workers of their collective bargaining rights. Speaking to camera, Walker repeated his threat of layoffs to come, if 14 state Senate Democrats who skipped town to prevent a vote from taking place, don't return to Madison. Walker said the protesters still packed in and around the state Capitol in Madison don't represent the people of Wisconsin.
"As more and more protesters come in from Nevada, Chicago and elsewhere, I'm not going to allow their voices to overwhelm the voices of the millions of taxpayers all across this state who know we're doing the right thing," Walker said. "This is a decision that Wisconsin will make."
Walker warned of "dire consequences" if the AWOL Senate Democrats -- who left the state last week to prevent the Senate from getting the necessary quorum to vote on Walker's budget bill -- don't return to Madison immediately.
The people who will suffer if the Democrats stay away, Walker said, will be the very state workers they say they're trying to protect.
"Failure to act on this budget repair bill means at least 1,500 state workers will be laid off before the end of June," he said. "If there's no agreement by July 1, another 5-6,000 state workers as well as 5-6,000 local government employees would also be laid off."
Walker said that if the Democrats don't come home soon, the responsibility for those potentially 10,000 plus layoffs will fall squarely on their shoulders.
They're already going to get it. That's what this is all about. They know it. And, if the firefighters or policemen have any doubts, let me say this one more time:
Look at what they did to the 9/11 responders..
You don't think he'll do that to you?