Highlights of last night's Senate budget action

From Jake's Economic TA Funhouse:

Here's a roundup of a few items thrown in to the budget in yesterday’s Senate action. We had been told that the disgraceful gutting of open records law was going to be replaced, but a couple of other awful provisions in the now-notorious 999 proposal that went through the Joint Finance Committee last week also got the ax.

Gordon Hintz: Republicans Debate An Imaginary Budget That Is Good for Wisconsin

For Immediate Release:
July 8, 2015                                                                                                                                              

Contact: Rep. Gordon Hintz                                                                                                                                                  


Republicans Debate An Imaginary Budget That Is Good for Wisconsin

 Madison –In a surprise move, during today’s debate on the 2015-17 State Budget Assembly Republicans chose to make no mention of their original budget proposal recently passed by the Joint Finance Committee.  Instead, Republicans repeatedly attempted to debate what appears to be an imaginary budget, stating ‘this budget is right for everyone in Wisconsin’ and ‘is good for Wisconsin and its families, schools, and property taxpayers’.

In case you missed it - State Capitol evacuated - All Clear now

Update -- the evacuation of the Capitol just ended as the all-clear has been given and legislators are heading back to the building.

The state capitol was evacuated this afternoon due to a "credible bomb threat".  Many legislators were seen crossing the various streets around the capitol to partake of bipartisan drinking in the meantime.  Latest word on social media seems to be that dogs may be brought in to sniff the building, that the square has been more or less closed for the time being, and that it's likely that the budget debate in the Assembly will have to be moved forward to tomorrow.

This afternoon's Concert on the Square is currently "on hold" due to the threat.

Sen. Vinehout: Statement on Budget

July 7, 2015
Sen. Vinehout: Statement on Budget
(MADISON)  State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) released the following statement following the State Senate action on the 2015-17 State Budget bill:
“Budgets are all about choices. Unfortunately, the budget passed by the Senate majority party represents political choices, not the choices of Wisconsin families.”

Motion 999 - Living Wage? Minimum Wage? Either way we're screwin' you - Part 2

Let's continue our trip through Motion 999. Apparently people are making too dang much money to satisfy the JFC, so they have amazingly managed to lower wages by simply substituting the term "minimum wage" for the term "living wage" in all Departmernt of Workforce Development definitions.  We're talking $7.25 per hour if you're lucky and not under 20 and starting a job, or falling into any number of categories who don't necessarily deserve that much. The notion that we can continue to insist on such a small minimum wage when many people are minimum wage employees and trying to support families simply needs to stop. This administration and legislature clearly think making under $15,000 per year is plenty for anybody to live on. This is an easy argment to make when you've never had to live on that much money.

This continual push to punish the poor and make their lot worse needs to stop. But we're just starting - things get worse. More in Part 3. Oh- and if you want to watch the government grinding out more of this sausage, they're currently streaming live at http://www.wiseye.org/Mobile/Stream1.aspx

The Jiggery-Pokery

The Hokey Pokey

Inspired by the colorful language of Justice Scalia and the shenanigans of our Republican legislators during the recent JFC fiasco, I would like to offer the following small contribution to the American Songbook.  It's been truly astounding to watch our Governor finally admit to "putting his right foot in" and to hear Kooyenga apologize for - well you know, not understanding the legislation he votes for. Apparently for this legislature "that's what it's all about".

To the tune of "The Hokey-Pokey".

You put the motion in
You take the motion out
You put the motion in
And your constituents shout

Stop doing the Jiggery-Pokery
Don't be a Republican lout
Or else we'll throw you out!

A Flurry of New Policy Slipped in by Budget Committee

Kathleen Vinehout
A Flurry of New Policy Slipped in by Budget Committee
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget.
Snuck in the end of the Joint Finance Committee’s work is a law change that could affect the safety of rural residents. It had me asking, “What if you picked up the phone to call 911 and heard no dial tone?”
Rural residents rely on small legal protections to keep a dial tone on their landline phones. Thousands of rural residents live in an area where cell phones do not work and cable services do not exist.
We rely on landlines for business, neighborliness, family communication, and emergencies and safety.

Weasel Words


A weasel word (also, anonymous authority) is an informal term for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific and/or meaningful statement has been made, when only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated, enabling the specific meaning to be denied if the statement is challenged.

Example 1: Walker and Republican joint statement

Motion 999 - the devil made me do it - Part 1

Devil in a suit

For those of you who did not take time out from your July 4 holiday weekend to read budget documents (and yes, I AM that much of a nerd, thank you) I wanted to point out that the much-ballyhooed issue with the Leg devastating open records in the state was only part of the last minute Motion 999 surprise. Over the next week or so I'll be bringing up some of the other actions that the Legislature has been taking to make life in Wisconsin less sustainable. But there's way too much to fit in one article, so I'll be dragging this out. 

First off, let's mention that the crazed recanting of the transparency provisions in the motion is a sham. Despite Walker and the other responsible parties saying "nope, didn't mean what you thought, we're all for transparency, nothing to see here", any reasonable reading of the motion makes it clear that what was intended was to gut the transparency laws for the legislature.  Either the English language is a mystery to the authors of this bill, or what we're really seeing here is another example of the Walker camp trying to slip something in, getting caught, and then trying to explain it away by telling us all that we cannot read. I will accept the fact that this is a group of people who have a limited grasp of our language, but still, it's pretty clear it's a matter of getting their hand caught in the cookie jar and acting like a 3-year-old.  "Cookies?  Jar?  Not me mommy.  I was putting cookies IN". 

Action Alert on Legislature's Attack on Open Records Law

From The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council:

The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is issuing an emergency action alert in response to the Joint Finance Committee’s shocking assault on the state’s long and proud tradition of open government.

This cowardly action, passed by the Committee on July 2 just hours after its introduction, is part of an omnibus motion stuck into the state budget. The committee chairs have refused to say which lawmakers asked for these changes, which will effectively free the state Legislature from the state’s Open Records Law.

The changes would exempt legislative communications from the law; shield from release all “deliberative materials” created for the purpose of making law or public policy (including opinions, analyses and briefings prepared at public expense); shut down public access to all records created in the process of drafting legislation; and specify that the Legislature can freely exempt any record from disclosure simply by passing a rule or policy.


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