RICH GET RICHER: New study says that under Walker, everyone in Wisconsin pays higher taxes than the wealthiest one percent

CLICK TO ENLARGE; last line shows total tax burden by class

Scott Walker frequently gabs about how his tax-cut policies are benefitting many taxpayers when, in reality, Wisconsin's middle class and poor pay are now paying higher tax rates than the wealthiest state residents.

If you're not among the top 20 percent of Wisconsin taxpayers, you're paying a higher, combined state and local tax rate than those wealthiest state residents. And the state's very most wealthy residents -- the top one percent -- pay a measley 6.2% in those taxes, less than everyone else and nearly three points lower than the poorest state taxpayers are made to hand over.

To see the details, click on the table, above left, to enlarge it for easier inspection.

Joel McNally, columnist at Milwaukee's Shepherd Express and Madison's Capital Times, dug out statistics from a new national study released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization. The study refutes the kind of political rhetoric on tax policy that Walker has used to win re-election and run for president.

Former Walker Aide Flashes Big Smile as He's Released from Prison

Tim Russell is back, baby!

After two years in the slammer,* the mastermind behind the criminal scheme** to steal taxpayer dollars to fund Scott Walker's 2010 gubernatorial campaign is no longer prisoner #00597584.

And this isn't the old sourpuss who went into prison two years ago  No, this is Tim Russell version 2.0-- complete with a cocky smile that seems to be letting all the various players in Wisconsin politics know that he's ready to resume his place as Walker's Karl Rove.       

* A cushy minimum security facility on the shores of Lake Winnebago where he was able to leave during the day to go to work for a wealthy Walker donor. 

** Alleged mastermind.  Just because Scott Walker explicitly emailed Russell to ixnay ethay illegalyay ampaigncay orkway inyay ethay overnmentgay officesyay when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal started sniffing around doesn't prove anything. Zero. Zip. Nada!

The planned Milwaukee streetcar system makes another stop, for Alderman Joe Davis and his political ambitions

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Proposed Milwaukee streetcar station at Courture high-rise

Milwaukee Alderman Joe Davis seems like a nice guy, well-educated, and devoted to his north side district, many of whose residents are black and low income. He's worked hard on economic development and appears to genuinely care about the city. But now he seems to care more about becoming Milwaukee's next mayor. And to do that, it looks as if he has decided he should mimic the hard-right, anti-mass transit rhetoric of Scott Walker, now governor and previously Milwaukee County executive.

Specifically, Davis, like Walker before him, has come out swinging against the new streetcar network pushed by Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, a project supported by many other aldermen. Davis has joined forces with Ald. Bob Donovan, another mayoral hopeful, and a panoply of right-wing groups, including the Koch-fueled Americans For Prosperity, among some of the same outfits that backed Walker; strange bedfellows, allied for varying reasons to defeat a key Barrett project.

Sen. Darling's "recovery district" idea mimics the Republican Party's further sell-off of public education

Five years ago, State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) penned an opinion column for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wringing her hands about the condition of public education in Wisconsin, especially the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). But she brightened at the prospect that public schools would soon come under more political control. "I am optimistic on the prospects for real education reform because it's on the minds of leaders of all political stripes. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has ideas for breaking up MPS into more nimble and accountable pieces."

Walker is now governor, of course, and has deeded those ideas about breaking up the public schools to Republican state legislators, Darling included. Following past GOP actions designed to weaken public schools and rob them of revenue, the GOP is now considering a number of even more problematic "reforms," including a trial balloon from suburbanite Darling herself. She would "fix" MPS by enacting a law that would punish underperforming schools in the city. Judging by other GOP initiatives already in the pipeline, "performance" would be measured according to simplistic and self-serving standards. Punishment would range all the way up to a death sentence for targeted schools, judged to be "failing."

“I Don’t Have A Clue” - School Play Mirrors Confusion in Assembly Education Committee

January 21, 2015
 
“I Don’t Have A Clue”
School Play Mirrors Confusion in Assembly Education Committee
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Edgar: All right, everybody; back to the scene of the crime.
“Ella: New clues?
“Carol: What clues?
“Bob: What’s the next clue?
“Carol: I don’t have a clue.
“Norman: (At the window box, dramatically.) Guys, the body’s gone!”
 
So goes the hilarious comedy written by Craig Sodaro and performed by Alma students. The play begins as a murder mystery dinner invitation and ends wrapped up in an international smuggling ring.
 
Students spent the last three and a half months practicing lines and preparing costumes. Play Director Tom Brakke coordinated a cast of roughly a quarter of Alma’s Middle and High Schoolers with precious few resources. He even directed students to buy up half-priced dresses and police uniforms at After-Halloween-Sales.
 
The work shows. The fast-paced comedy pulled in record crowds at the rural high school. Teens of all ages delivered their lines flawlessly and kept everyone entertained.
 
I took in the show on a brief break. I couldn’t help but see parallels between the confusion of the dinner guests and the lines delivered at a recent Assembly Education Committee hearing.

TESTING THE LAWMAKERS: It's not about the schools; it's about poverty. Discuss!

The next time (and it'll be soon) that you hear Wisconsin state legislators talking about problems with our public schools and the need to "reform" them by taking them over, converting them to private schools, swiping their funding to subsidize existing private schools  and punishing poorly performing public schools with cuts in state aid, just remember this:

A majority of public school pupils across the United States now live in poverty. That's true for the first time in 50 years. All past gains in reducing child poverty, made by the "war on poverty" beginning in the 1960s, now have been reversed, arguably because inflation-adjusted wages for the working poor and the middle class have for much of that time remained stagnant, or have declined.

And it's not just that more kids are living in poverty; it's that among those impoverished kids, a growing number are living in extreme poverty.

Wisconsin, it is true, fairs somewhat better than the norm. Here in the Badger state "only" 41 percent of all public school pupils come from impoverished homes. Still, that's worse than the poverty in nearby Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio.

If it isn't obvious why this is important, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University explained it in a nutshell:

Jeff Smith running for Democratic Party Chair

This afternoon I talked to Jeff Smith on the phone about his run for Democratic Party Chair. Jeff is the former representative from the 93rd district, and has worked as an organizer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.  I talked to Jeff about what his plans are, what he would do as party chair, and what makes him different from the other candidates.  Please excuse some of the audio quality here - this was a cell phone interview.

Walker plans to "right-size" -- more accurately right-wing size -- Wisconsin state government. RIGHHHHHHHT.

"Right-sizing" is a slyly meaningless yet onerous term used in the business community to explain cutting staff, outsourcing, reducing reserves of capital and commodities and generallty making everything smaller to boost profits. And it's also used by product marketeers trying to suggest to customers how economical and/or healthy their offerings are.

Now Scott Walker is using the term to justify and explain an obvious Republican move to further cut state social programs, environmental protection, low-income housing programs and other policies that helped build Wisconsin's superior quality of life. Before we started out on Captain Walker's downstream riverboat ride towards Wisconsippi.

Hey, Walker insists, things under his regime have turned out great. Who needs all that state "programmy" stuff, besides of course the citizens of Wisconsin who need all that stuff? Poor people, you see, simply don't deserve a helping hand because that only serves to impoverish them, even though they're already impoverished. Meanwhile, the state's dwindling middle class doesn't need any help either. At least not from your state government.

Rep. Chris Taylor’s statement on the State of the State

For immediate release:                                                        For more information, contact:

January 13, 2015                                                                    Rep. Chris Taylor, 608.266.5342       

                                                                                               

 

Rep. Chris Taylor’s statement on the State of the State

 

MADISON – Tonight, Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) released the following statement about Governor Walker’s State of the State address:

 

“The State of the State address is traditionally reserved for a Governor’s victory lap of their successes. Unfortunately, Governor Walker doesn’t have too much to brag about because he’s failed to put Wisconsin families first.

 

“Governor Walker failed our economy by creating a 2.2 billion dollar deficit. Governor Walker failed our workers by falling short on creating the jobs we desperately need and refusing to give Wisconsin’s working families a needed raise.  And Governor Walker is failing our children by refusing to make the necessary investments in their future.

  

“In contrast, Democrats are focused on restoring economic opportunities, creating opportunities for our children to succeed and protecting our personal freedoms.  That is our vision for the State of the State.” 

Representative Lisa Subeck Response to State of the State

Representative Lisa Subeck Response to State of the State

Madison, WI - Representative Lisa Subeck (D-78) made the following statement in response to Governor Walker’s State of the State Address:

“After four years of putting politics ahead of people, Governor Walker again fails to put Wisconsin families first. In his State of the State address tonight, Walker offered no tangible policy solutions to help struggling families in our state. Instead, he offered a series of gimmicks, claiming to reform state government but offering no real benefit to the public. Walker touted property tax declines, neglecting to mention these decreases have left schools and local governments strapped for dollars needed to provide basic services.

In his address, Governor Walker painted an artificially rosy picture of Wisconsin’s economy and current state of affairs. In reality, the state faces a $2.2 billion structural deficit and consistently lags behind our Midwest neighbors in job creation, wages and other economic indicators. At the same time, Walker’s policies on education and economic development continue to move our state backward.

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