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Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author's and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

...to the hard-working taxpayers...

Governor Walker Promises Reduced Role by Government “…of the people, by the people, for the people…” (President Lincoln)

In his second inaugural address on January 5, 2015 Governor Walker quoted this text from the Wisconsin Constitution:

     "All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights;   
      among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to secure these rights, 
      governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." 

Freedom and prosperity come not from the mighty hand of government but from the dignity of work, Governor Walker stated. He outlined his vision of a more limited government that provides economic opportunity to its citizens through access to quality education, skill-levels that enable people to obtain higher-paying jobs, and expanded highways to meet the needs of various industries. These actions by the government will lead to a future of freedom and prosperity for every person who lives in the great state of Wisconsin, he suggested.   

Looking back, Mr. Walker said, “We took the power away from big government special interests and returned it to you, the hard-working taxpayers.” Perhaps he was referring to his action in 2012 to restrict collective bargaining rights for some civil workers. Maybe he was speaking of his rejection of federal funds for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Most certainly he was not considering the benefits that would accrue to Wisconsin’s citizens through an orderly transition from a military industrial economy to a peace economy, an increased investment in renewable energy companies, or the expansion of rail service in Wisconsin. 

During the last four years was power returned to the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin or was it increasingly handed over to corporations through tax reductions on property, income tax credits, sales tax refunds, and reduced regulatory oversight? “Wisconsin is Open for Business” was Governor Walker’s promise in 2012 with a goal of creating jobs, jobs, jobs. Some businesses did seem to benefit mightily; a couple examples come to mind. Gogebic Taconite Mining helped draft State legislation that opened northern WI to its iron mining operations. Expanded frac sand mining in western Wisconsin occurred when the State Legislature reduced local government controls, negatively impacting citizens’ health and their environment.

Did Governor Walker’s first term result in increased freedom and prosperity for all of Wisconsin’s citizens or did his Administration pursue more vigorously a path of corporate welfare over individual welfare? According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel average personal income in WI lagged behind the country as a whole as well as surrounding states except for Illinois (March, 2014). Will all the citizens of Wisconsin experience better outcomes in Governor Walker’s second term when he promises an even leaner State government? Prospects appear bleak, and suggest that every Wisconsin voter remain vigilant and active so that increased freedom and prosperity will accrue to all – especially the most vulnerable among us.

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