One Wisconsin Now Blog
January 2010 Archives
“[O]ur businesses are pass-through businesses, that is to say our taxes are paid through the individuals. I and my investors pay taxes individually on behalf of our businesses. The only business that has double taxation, which is a C-corp, is something that’s traded publicly and we’re not public businesses. We don’t pay taxes like a C-corp. We pay them individually.” [WisPolitics interview, November 2009]
One of the more rousing cheers during the State of the Union last night came after President Obama called out the ridiculous ruling from the Supreme Court last week that threw open the door to a new flood of corporate cash into campaigns. The Bush boys, Justices Roberts and Alito, swore up and down during confirmation they werent judicial activists, wouldnt legislate from the bench and then promptly overturned campaign finance legislation already passed in state after state, and essentially halting efforts in Wisconsin to toughen up existing laws.
Some have raised concerns that Rasmussen words its questions in a way that favors Republicans and conservatives. Not to the level of Strategic Vision's fraudulent polling, by any stretch, but noteworthy, nonetheless.
The failed conservative economic policies of giving endless tax breaks to corporations and the rich finally got a full-throated repudiation last night as voters in Oregon passed a tax increase on the wealthy and corporations to fill that states gaping budget hole.
Voters sick and tired of watching corporations get rich while state services and funding for public education are cut endlessly finally stood up and said ENOUGH! Despite the typical crying and scare-tactics from corporate interests that somehow paying their fair share will kill jobs, Oregonians knew better. Many corporations in Oregon have skirted taxes for years, often paying the minimum tax allowed by Oregon law, ten bucks. Ten dollars " yeah cause thats paying a fair share for the state services that corporations so willingly use.
So let me get this straight.
Wisconsin's facing a budget deficit of something like $2-billion, and Scott Walker's idea is to dig the hole deeper with a big corporate tax break? And the news media treat him seriously?
Before criticizing Doyle for statewide job losses during a recession, Walker should pay attention to what's going on in his own backyard.
In 2009 Milwaukee County lost over 30,000 jobs -- with the unemployment rate jumping from 5.5% to 9.2% in just one year. (bls.gov)
And just what sort of "economic development" has Walker been up to as county executive? It's a legacy of mismanagement and shuffled responsibilities. And even budget deficits: "Milwaukee County economic develpment division has $3M deficit," Daily Reporter, 3/30/2007.
When Walker was elected exec he had two divisions under his supervision that managed economic development programs in the county -- the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) Economic & Community Development division (a merger of Economic Development and Housing & Community Development), and directly in the Executive Office was the Office of Community Business Development Partners (initially called Disadvantaged Business Development).
In his 2006 budget Walker moved the Office of Community Business Development Partners out of his office to the County Board after several years of reducing funding (in 2002 the program was funded at $680,454 and by 2005 Walker recommended funding of just $494,688).
After four years of recommending flat funding, Walker reduced funding for the DAS Economic & Community Dvlp department by $3 million (2007 budget), and then followed that up in his 2008 budget by stripping the program down to just real estate management and federal block grant distribution.
In his 2009 budget, introduced right in the midst of the 2008 financial collapse, the division was completely eliminated.
Walker reduced what had been $18-19 million each year in county spending on economic development (2002-2006), to just over $1 million in his proposed 2010 budget.
And so his grand 2010 effort to save face in light of the county's weak record on economic development: Milwaukee Works! A weak marketing ploy that probably had more to do with his gubernatorial campaign than with actually creating jobs in Milwaukee County.
Master Terrence Wall Street simply does not like the Recovery Act. In fact, he dislikes the Recovery Act almost as much as he disdains paying his fair share of taxes that the rest of us pay.
Nine out of ten times isnt just a coincidence; its a pattern of behavior.
And nine out of the last ten years, silver-spoon fed real estate developer Terrence Wall paid no state income tax. Because one of Madisons wealthiest business men didnt make any money in the last ten years. Right.
When T-Walls income tax doge was first revealed, we only new about the last five years, and T-Wall chalked up his non-existent tax payments to the down economy. But that certainly doesnt explain his lack of tax payments over the last 10 years. T-Wall tried to explain it away by claiming he paid his fair share in business taxes, but we havent uncovered any proof of that, nor has T-Wall provided any.
Y'know if we can get the press to write a story about his opposition to job creation measures, maybe tomorrow he'll do an announcement he's going to start trying to create economic opportunity for Wisconsin.
It's worth a shot.
As a side note: although Kapanke advocates for ridiculous tax cuts for the rich and has a baseball team, he is not like George W. Bush.
I had always heard of these faceless corporations so I thought it wouldn’t be very much fun to meet one. But now that the Supreme Court has officially made them persons (sorta like they did with George Bush) I thought maybe I’d do what I’d wanted to for a long time – punch one in the face. So off I went to my local hated corporation.
Paddy Mac’s method: interviewing some joker who at one point shouted an obscenity when talking about Sen. Russ Feingold and letting him claim he’s got non-partisan cred.
(I'm not going to name his source who's in the story.)
The polling project between the UW-Madison Political Science department and the states shrillest right-wing, corporate-friendly think tank has turned out to be as suspicious as we first feared.
Documents obtained by One Wisconsin Now through the states open records law reveal that political considerations were front and center in the decision making surrounding the polling project and the publication of the polls results. The results of the poll showed statewide opposition to private school vouchers, but the press release from both UW and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) played up figures that showed support for school vouchers in Milwaukee.
According to the email we obtained, in the day before the release of materials on the poll, the head of WPRI pushed to have the statewide opposition to vouchers to be removed and to use the Milwaukee County numbers instead. When UW professor Ken Goldstein pushed back, saying the change would go against standard operating procedure, George Lightbourn of WPRI pushed back even harder, saying:
Im not concerned about journalists. Im concerned about the Scott (sic) Ross types who would enjoy being able to portray WPRIs own data as showing lack of support for choice. I know its a pain in the ass but Ive been burned a couple of times and I dont need to be the one holding the gas can.
Take a virtual tour here.
As One Wisconsin Now previously reported, Wall Land Investment, LLC, one of multi-millionaire Madison developer Terrence Wall’s companies, has reclassified $2 million in prime Dane County commercial real estate into “agriculture” property, which allows the company to eliminate $34,000 in local property taxes. Wall was already under criticism for using a Delaware post “office” box to possibly avoid paying Wisconsin business tax.
Wisconsin citizens will have their first chance on Wednesday, Jan. 27, to tell state legislators that making it easier to build more nuclear reactors should not be part of a proposed Clean Energy Jobs bill.
A special State Senate committee considering the bill, (SB 450) will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. in Room 412 East of the State Capitol.
It is critical that people turn out in numbers to register and testify against changing the current law, which protects citizens and the environment by requiring that a federal nuclear waste repository be operating to handle high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power reactors before any new ones can be built.
The proposed new law would eliminate that requirement and open the door to more reactors here.
What's wrong with that? Well, the high-level radioactive waste the reactors produce is dangerous to humans and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years. To put that into some perspective, I like to remind people that 15,000 years ago Wisconsin was covered by glaciers.
Climate change is real, and we must act. But a friend and ally on this issue, Jennifer Nordstrom, likes to say that proposing more nuclear power as a solution to global warming is like telling someone to start smoking in order to lose weight. Bad tradeoff.
We don't need nuclear power to solve our problems, and we don't need to fake the false choice between nukes and coal. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act goes a long way toward putting Wisconsin on the right track toward renewable energy. Probably 90 or 95% of it is good policy. It was recommended by the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming, which worked long and hard to produce a comprehensive bill.
But there were a few too many utility reprersentatives and their allies on the task force, who were able to force the outnumbered environmentalists to accept a deal with the devil and include the provisions that reopen the door to more nuclear reactors.
Groups which participated in the task force, including several organizations with solid anti-nuclear credentials from past battles, are forbidden to seek changes in the bill; they are signed on to support the whole package.
So that leaves it up to the general public, the citizens of Wisconsin, the ones who got the current law passed, to keep it on the books. That sensible law, passed in 1984, is the one that says before you can build another reactor there must be a federal waste repository to handle the waste it produces.
Why did Wisconsin pass that law? Here's what the Legislature said at the time:
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:
SECTION 1 . Legislative findings and purpose. The legislature finds that :
(1) Until there is a facility available for the permanent disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, the present lack of a long-term waste disposal option increases the risk that the insufficiency of interim storage space for spent fuel could lead to power plant shutdowns.
(2) Large cost overruns in nuclear power plant construction projects in other states have adversely affected ratepayers .
(3) The public service commission, by order, has found that present uncertainties in the nuclear fuel cycle regarding waste storage and disposal, uranium availability, reprocessing and decommissioning costs make it contrary to the public interest for Wisconsin utilities to commit themselves presently to any future nuclear expansion.
(4) The public service commission, by order, has required electric utilities to identify maximum cost-effective conservation and renewable energy potential in their service areas and to submit specific proposals for achieving the potential.
(5) The public service commission, by order, has recognized that wind, water and other alternative sources of energy are potentially valuable as a supplement to conventional electric generation in this state and that it is in the public interest for utilities to become more involved in the development and implementation of such sources.
The US nuclear industry has been producing that waste for more than 50 years, but hasn't been able to solve the problem of how to dispose of it safely and permanently. Neither has any other country, and despite what the nuclear advocates tell you about those clever French folks they haven't done it, either.
Don't let them nuke Wisconsin's climate.
Here's the latest WisOpinion "That's Debatable" featuring One WI Now's Executive Director, Scot Ross on the MacIver Institute's fake news service -- check it out!
After helping to bloat the state corrections system (in the 1990’s prison spending rose 246%), and taking political contributions from the for-profit private prison industry, Walker has now created a $5 million hole in Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s 2010 budget in his zeal to lie about raising the property tax levy. To cover this hole Clarke is proposing fewer highway patrols, more early releases, and cuts to programs to help rehabilitate inmates and reduce the numbers of re-offenses.
While Walker’s spokesperson claims he “takes a really strong stance on public safety” (and thanks to Capper, let's not forget his faux "Safety, Affordability and Pride" theme from his 2007 budget), a review of all of Walker's proposed budgets shows he actually proposed cutting the numbers of sheriff’s deputies and House of Correction officers in all but one of his proposed budgets from 2003 to 2010. And all those budget and staff cuts resulted in record-setting overtime spending. Walker also mismanaged the House of Correction so poorly that Sheriff Clarke had to take the department over.
Sure sounds like someone who takes a "really strong stance on public safety."
No sooner had One Wisconsin Now posted our analysis showing Scott Walker's proposed county budget increases of 35% were higher than the state's two other largest municipalities, the City of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin, than his pals in the "liberal media": TMJ's Charlie Sykes and the Journal Sentinel's Patrick McIlheran, came roaring to his defense.
Happy days are here again, according to Scott Walker, the county executive who's made such a mess of Milwaukee County government that his long-term solution is to abolish county government.
Walker's "state of the county" speech on Tuesday painted a rosy picture of his tenure, proposed even more privatization of services, and promised to reduce the property tax levy.
Wisconsin Environment slammed the right-wing Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) yesterday about their inaccurate and misleading report about the Governor’s initiatives to grow the renewable energy industry and create green jobs.
Here’s an excerpt from Wisconsin Environment’s report:
“…the WPRI report fails to acknowledge the many obvious economic and other benefits that would result from a broad effort to repower Wisconsin with clean energy.
Among the long list of benefits (apparently) not considered in the analysis are the following:
1.) Avoided costs of electricity generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure resulting from reduced energy demand or the incorporation of on-site renewable generation.
2.) Increased income for Wisconsin farmers resulting from increased use of biofuels and the potential to lease lands for wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy development.
3.) Health benefits (including reductions in absenteeism, early mortality and possibly health care costs) from avoided fossil fuel-related pollution, including reductions in pollutants that form smog and soot, and mercury deposition in waterways.
4.) Avoided economic impacts of global warming in Wisconsin, including predicted changes that threaten to reduce the productivity of agriculture, increase the possibility of dangerous floods, shift the composition of Wisconsin forests, affect the winter recreation industry, and more.
5.) Reductions in the risk to individuals, businesses and government posed by sudden shifts in fossil fuel prices.
6.) Energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy both have hedging value as insurance against sudden spikes in fossil fuel costs.”
Doyle also critiqued the report, saying “Anybody who doesn’t think this creates jobs is simply not looking around.” Doyle’s Office of Energy Independence released a study saying the legislation would create 15,000 jobs by 2025.
This is far from the first time OWN has noted WPRI’s propensity for twisting the truth to suit the interests of their monied special interest and corporate friends.
And yet the University of Wisconsin-Madison poli sci department doesn’t believe their joint polling effort with WPRI doesn’t help advance a conservative legislative agenda?
You can visit Wisconsin Environment’s report in the report section at www.WisconsinEnvironment.org.
Over the past months, a staffer from the conservative MacIver Institute has been attending press conferences in Madison and Milwaukee, armed with a camera to take footage and attempt to get interviews with legislators and other elected public officials.
Be warned: The MacIver Institute is a not a news service. It is not a member of the traditional media. It is a right wing educational “charitable” organization and it is gathering footage to advance its conservative, anti-worker agenda.
Talking to the MacIver Institute is abetting the conservative movement in its efforts to ensure progressive values and issues are not a part of the public policy debate. MacIver has spent considerable time criticizing the 2009-11 state budget, the Recovery Act, reforming the health insurance industry and stopping global climate change.
The Obama administration is going to renominate Louis Butler for appointment as a federal judge. The Senate returned the nomination to the White House, along with several others, when it recessed at Christmas.
A GOP flack offers this negative comment on Butler:
"Voters across the state decided not to elect him to continue serving on the Supreme Court because they thought he was a radical judge who was legislating from the bench," Kristin Ruesch, communications director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said.More likely, voters narrowly decided against electing him because they falsely believed that Butler had found a loophole to spring from prison a sex offender who then went on to molest another child.
They thought that because Butler's opponent, Michael Gableman, ran a television commercial to make them think that.
Gableman's now an Injustice on the State Supreme Court.
"A crowd of about 150 parents, teachers and concerned Oshkosh residents packed into a commons room at West High School Tuesday night for a public forum on upcoming spending cuts as high as $5 million. About 30 people spoke out against budget cuts that would close schools and layoff teachers."
Todd Berry, the head of the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance who must be on the speed dial of every reporter in Wisconsin, wound up in a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the IRS plan to begin regulation of paid tax preparers.
Berry blamed the complexity of the tax code this way: "The reason we have to use them is simply that Congress and the Wisconsin Legislature view the tax code as a Christmas tree. They make it unnecessarily complicated."
Walker’s legacy of managing the Milwaukee County parks: mid-year budget deficits, pool closures, underfunding, complete and utter mismanagement by his appointed staff, and taking credit for a national award that was granted because of the efforts of a creative director and private citizens who took park maintenance into their own hands.
Walker’s often used strategy of making public infrastructure and services so terrible that the only option appears to be privatization is clearly on display once again.
Dan Cody writes here about the problems with the MJS story about the parks audit, and the underlying issue of needing a dedicated funding source.
These issues, however, could have been addressed by Walker long ago. He’s had eight years and eight budgets now with opportunity to clean up the problems. Instead there have been repeated mid-year budget crises, repeated layoffs and downsizing, increased fees, and reduced access through closures and repeated attempts to shut down various beloved community pools. All in an effort to further strip the parks budget. Walker’s leadership has been inconsistent at best, and downright destructive in his zeal to eliminate county jobs.
The Political Environment
PolitiScoop Left on the Lake
Water Blogged in Waukesha
The Other Side Of My Mouth
Eye On Oshkosh
Pretty Important Politics
WI Council on Children & Families
WI AFSCME Council 11
Citizen Action of WI - No Sacred Cows
Tea Party Pledge
Wisconsin Budget Project
The Wisconsin Happy Farm