Monday, November 28, 2011

Was there a "Brewer stimulus"? Small, but possible

Now that the state has reported the sales taxes for counties that have sales taxes through the middle of November, I figured now would be a good time to see if the Milwaukee area truly benefitted from the Brewers' run to the NLCS. If there was a serious "Brewer stimulus", you'd see it in sales taxes, as the extra ticket sales, team gear, and food and drinks spent out at bars would be reflected in that type of revenue.

The short answer is- minorly. Milwaukee County had a definite increase in sales tax revenues for the October and November distributions vs. last year (which reflect sales in September and October), but it was already getting increased revenues before then, and it's a bit hard to tell if the increase comes only from the Crew's success.

Milwaukee Co. sales tax revenues
Jan.-Sept. 2011 - $47,783,484
Jan.-Sept. 2010 - $45,026,681(2011 increase 6.12%)

Oct.-Nov. 2011 - $11,305,025
Oct.-Nov. 2010 - $10,191,673 (2011 increase 10.92%)

I think Chris Abele and County staff will take the modest bump. So will the Stadium district (the 5-county 0.1% sales tax that helps pay for Miller Park), as they were up 9.41% vs. October and November of 2010.

But possibly the biggest winners from the Brewers run may be the Wisconsin Center District, who own and operate downtown Milwaukee facilities like the MECCA, Milwaukee Theatre, and the convention center. From the WCD's own website, it explains how it gets its money to operate.
WCD receives no property tax money or Federal, State or local subsidy. Its operations are funded by operating revenues. Special sales taxes on hotel rooms, on prepared food and drinks sold in restaurants and taverns, and on car rentals repay a $185 million bond issue that funded the Midwest Express Center project, and provide funding to Visit Milwaukee. None of these tax revenues are used to fund WCD operations.

Within the boundaries of Milwaukee County, WCD collects 2% on rooms, 3% on car rentals, and 0.5% on food and beverage sales. It also receives a 7% hotel room tax formerly collected by the City of Milwaukee. Effective January, 2011, the county-wide hotel room tax increases to 2.5%, as requested by affected hoteliers to provide additional funding for Visit Milwaukee.
And the WCD saw those revenues go up 18.50% in the three-month period of September, October and November. That increased hotel tax hit at just the right time with the Brewers getting hot and grabbing so much of out town media that needed to stay in the Milwaukee area. Now can they get that center paid off and give the hotel tax back to the City of Milwaukee so city residents can get some breaks on their property taxes? Worth keeping an eye on.

So it looks like the Brewers' success gave a minor lift to the County and Stadium district finances, and a big boost to the Milwaukee Center District and Milwaukee "lesiure industry" work. Too bad for Scott Walker that this Brewers-related business still couldn't save us from being dead last in job growth during that same period, and that the Brewers' bump in sales taxes was over with October.

Ironically, it's these "leisure industry" workers that have had a dearth of downtown sporting events in the last month due to the Bucks lockout, and you can bet they're as glad as anyone in the state is to see the NBA lockout end. Let's see if that pops in for the last month of the year and January 2012.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Will Wisconsin ever get back to full employment?

This sort of an add-on to the last post, but here is a good article in this week's Isthmus regarding Wisconsin and the jobs gap that opened up as a result of the 2007-2009 recession. The whole article is good and I recommend reading it, but here's a couple of key takeaways from it.

The first is how the experts show how our economy has changed, and how Wisconsin will have to adjust to meet it. This quote is from Tim Smeeding, who heads the UW's Institute for Research on Poverty.
"These are jobs that were decreasing in the pre-recession period, and the recession made them go down even faster," [Smeeding] says. "Our employment in manufacturing in this country has been dropping since 1970. We don't live in the Mercury outboard motor world, the Chevy SUV world or the Harley-Davidson world anymore. We live in an Epic world."

"Epic" is, of course, Verona's successful medical software company, which has continued to add to its workforce despite the parched economy. The way forward may be technology and specialized manufacturing, Smeeding says. "If you don't have a post-secondary degree, you're in big trouble."
2 thoughts on this:

1. If you need a bachelor's and post-secondary degree to make it in the 2010s and beyond, as Smeeding suggests, why did Gov. Walker impose $250 million in cuts to the UW System is the 2011-2013 budget. And then he doubled down on those cuts by putting in a disproportionate $66 million in additional cuts to the UW system in the DOA's notorious lapses. This will clearly limit the variety of classes UW schools can offer, reduces the ability for these schools to compete for high-level faculty and staff, and raises tuition to the UW schools by a total of $107 million (5.5% in each year for an 11.3% total increase over 2 years). In a time when high-level higher education should be a huge Wisconsin priority, Walker chose to go in the complete opposite direction.

2. Epic Systems, in addition to being the largest private employer in the county that added the most people in Wisconsin last decade, also defines a different way of business in Wisconsin (and I don't just mean the crazy hours and singular culture that Epic is known for in the Madison area). Epic has refused to work with vendors who joined with the right-wing shills at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. Why? Because Epic understands that the failed, "profit by any means necessary without regard to other effects" mentality that defines oligarch orgs like WMC is no way to succeed in the 21st Century. Compare that thinking to Scott Walker and Co. feeling they need to cling to WMC/ Bradley old-money, old-boys club style of thinking. Who do you think will develop the strategies to make it in the modern world? I'll go with Judy Faulkner and the folks at Epic.

Here's one other big part of the article, including a former professor of mine at the UW.
Jack Huddleston, a professor of urban and regional planning at the UW, says the last state budget "cut local aids by about a billion dollars. That translates immediately" to employment losses in local government. He's skeptical of projections that these jobs will take another hit in 2012. "I don't see the bleeding continuing," he says.

But Andrew Reschovsky, an economist and professor of public affairs at UW-Madison, predicts that the bleeding will accelerate. "The pressure on local government is going to grow," he says. Stuck in the vise, alongside the state's municipalities, are the state's schools, where teachers have gotten the ax. "You don't make these kinds of cuts without having employment effects," he says.

No you don't Prof. Reschovsky. We've seen that as part of the big job losses that have hit since Walker's budget took effect on July 1 (most notably the loss of 9,000 local government jobs since August, reflecting lower-than-usual staffing at K-12 schools). And you will continue too see that happen in 2012, because many of the cuts reflected in municipal governments do not take effect until the new local fiscal year on January 1. We are not done shedding jobs in the public sector by a long shot, and given that public sector employees buy things and own houses just like private sector folks do, it will put serious pressure on other parts of our state's economy.

So as the Isthmus article shows, a large gap in jobs continues in Wisconsin, much like it has in the rest of America, and it shows that we are a long way from the peak employment times of 1999-2000. But the path that Scott Walker and his backers chose have put us even further behind in the hole, and until his slash-and-funnel-to-the-rich-and-corporate mentality is driven out on Madison, we aren't going to come close to getting back to where we need to be.

Walker spin on jobs- more lies and failures

Thanks to James Rowen, I got this heads-up on more Twitter spin from Gov. Walker's office.
@GovWalker- From 2007-10, WI lost more than 150,000 private sector jobs. From Jan - Oct 2011, WI added more than 20,000 private sector jobs.
I suppose the point that Walker and co. are trying to make is that somehow Jim Doyle and the Dems were responsible for the large job losses from 2007-2010, and that Walker and the WisGOPs were the ones who turned around Wisconsin's job losses in the last 9 months. Seems laughable enough on its face, given Wisconsin's last-in-the-nation "honors" for job growth in the last 4 months, and the charts showing Wisconsin falling behind the rest of the country under Walker, but let's take a closer look and see what we have.

Well, the numbers seem close enough to reality (I'll even allow Scotty his 20,000 "private sector job growth" claim, although half of that was in the month of January, before he "dropped the bomb" on public employees). But as is typical in Walker World, key context is not mentioned. And the big context here is how the U.S. economy dropped its own bomb on American jobs, and we should look at how Wisconsin compared to the rest of the country. We'll use the 12-month change from December of each of these years.

Job growth Wisconsin and U.S., 2007-2010
2007 - Wis. +0.43%, U.S. +0.80% (Wis. -0.37% vs. U.S.)
2008 - Wis. -1.71%, U.S. -2.61% (Wis. +0.90%)

In 2008, Wisconsin elected the Dems to control of both houses of the Legislature, and they passed a budget in the face of a massive budget deficit and job losses in June 2009, let's see how they did.

2009 - Wis. -4.74%, U.S. -3.77% (Wis. -0.97%)
2010 - Wis. +1.40%, U.S. +0.73% (Wis. +0.67%)

So the collapsing Wisconsin economy had stabilized under the Doyle/ Dem budget, and were adding jobs at almost twice the national rate in 2010. Walker took office in the midst of these recovering times in January 2011, and has thrown it into reverse, even as the rest of the country keeps adding jobs.

2011 All jobs Wis. +0.13%, U.S. +0.91% (Wis. -0.78%)
Private sector Wis. 0.38%, U.S. +1.33% (Wis. -0.95%)

So when Scotty and his minions throw Tweets out like Friday's spin, remind them that we are lagging the U.S. badly, and losing as badly as we were 2 years ago. Unfortunately, we don't have a Dem-controlled Legislature or Governor that will make the moves necessary to turn that around and get us back on track.

Hmmm, sounds like we might need to put in Dem legislators and a Dem governor in 2012 to get moving again, doesn't it?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dear J-S- We know whose side you're on. It's not ours

I just sent this to the Journal-Sentinel letters to the editor file. It's a short version of what I wanted to send, because they limit the size of your submission. I wanted to go more into the prominence they give to right-wing columnists like Christian Schneider and Mike Nichols from the Bradley-funded WPRI (aka We Promote Republican Idiocy). I also wanted to mention the huge megaphone right-wing liars get to have on WTMJ, WISN, and other hate radio without any balance given for the majority of Wisconsinites who want Scott Walker gone.

But that requires a lot more explanation than they allow for plebes like me, since I don't belong to the right social clubs for the J-S. So instead I settled for this.

"Those of us that pay attention to things like consistency in media can't help but notice how the Journal-Sentinel has chosen to cover certain events.

For example, the sketchy, race-baiting, (and totally false) accusations regarding young African-American recall petition signers were generated by a Bradley Foundation-funded right-wing group called Media Trackers. The Journal-Sentinel refused to consider the biased source of these lies, allowed Journal Communications employee Charles Sykes to run with those false accusations. Your paper then gave prominent space to dutifully follow up on the "story," allowing these lies to be displayed on the front page when you knew they were false and inflammatory.

You know what didn't get on the front page? Liberal One Wisconsin Now's $10,000 reward offered for information relating to the arrest of people who wish to deface and destroy recall petitions. Makes you wonder why it's different, doesn't it?

When I was going through the airport to fly out for Thanksgiving with my family, I checked your paper to see if there was coverage of the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that showed Wisconsin to be dead last in America in job performance for the month of October. Was this big news on your front page? No. It wasn't even on the front page of the business section. That's a choice made by your management.

When I came back from my Thanksgiving trip with family, what do I find in huge type on the J-S front page? Some sensationalistic story about City of Milwaukee employees "triple-dipping", also chosen by your management. No doubt this report would also be used by WTMJ talking heads for fodder on the GOP propaganda and filth that passes for daytime broadcasting on Journal Communications' radio station.

These are but two examples as to why many of us have chosen to cancel our paper subscriptions to the Journal-Sentinel, as you have not only refused to admit your mistake of endorsing the failed Scott Walker for governor, but you and your broadcast stations continue to allow right-wing spin meisters to give unchallenged deceptions and lies without any sense of judgment or allowance for balance from the other side.

You at the Journal-Sentinel have a choice. Either start to balance to the right-wing noise brigade that dominates your publications and broadcast stations, and make these people accountable for their lies and deceptions. Or expect many more disruptions and direct actions by us who have been diminished and silenced for far too long, and your corporation and advertisers will pay a big price- both in the pocketbook, and in your integrity.

Well, that's if you have any integrity left, because right now, a lot of us see nothing more than a tabloid rag that favors a small oligarchy who could not care less about the overall well-being of our state."

Edit, here's another example of the J-S's leanings. They allow a scared Sykes-sucker from Elm Grove a full column to spew proofless garbage like this.

H/t Illusory tenant.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Because the J-S won't tell you- Walker's Wisconsin DEAD LAST for jobs

The monthly state-by-state employment report confirmed what I suspected. Wisconsin had the nation's worst job record in October, and our fair state garners a number of "honors" in this month's report.
In October, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 39 states and the District of Columbia, and decreased in 11 states. The largest over-the-month increases in employment occurred in Illinois (+30,000) and California (+25,700). The largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in
Wisconsin (-9,700),
followed by New York (-8,300) and Minnesota (-6,100).....

Wisconsin experienced the largest over-the-month percentage decline in employment (-0.4 percent), followed by Maine, Rhode Island, and Wyoming
(-0.3 percent each).

In October, 14 states recorded statistically significant changes in employment, 13 of which were increases....The only state with an over-the-month statistically significant decline in employment was Wisconsin (-9,700)....

And as I've noted, this is hardly a one-month blip, because October's decrease means that Wisconsin also moved into the Number One position for job loss over the last 4 months- or the time period that Scott Walker's budget has been in effect. And it's not by a little, either.

Most Job losses June-October 2011
Wisconsin -27,600
Georgia -19,100
Rhode Island -6,200
Missouri -3,800
Arkansas -3,700

You know what's even more remarkable than Wisconsin's job failures? The biggest growers. Illinois and California have major budget and pension shortfalls, and are 2 of the biggest canards right-wing propaganda tries to use as an example of why Walker had to make the massive cuts and damages to public services. Yet, what else do these states have in common? I'll replay part of the BLS report from above.
In October, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 39 states and the District of Columbia, and decreased in 11 states. The largest over-the-month increases in employment occurred in Illinois (+30,000) and California (+25,700).

And you know what else California leads in? Job growth over the last 4 months, with over 80,000 jobs added. That's right, California is Number 1, Wisconsin is Number 50. And I guess Scotty's plans to poach businesses from "higher tax" Illinois aren't really paying off either.

Hmm, maybe cosmetic budget numbers don't tell the whole story about a state's ability to grow jobs, now does it? You know who else knows it? Walker's buddy Mitch Daniels in Indiana, who allegedly has a billion dollar surplus, but also presides over the only state in the Midwest with job losses over the last 12 months (see it on page 19).

So yes, today's figures verify even more that the Walker policies are complete failures? And the Journal-Sentinel's take on this story? No idea, they're busy propping Walker for claiming an Indian company will add 50 jobs a year based on tax credits of $15,000 a job. Oh, and racist dog-whistle stories about daring to help homeless people to vote (while choosing to stay silent on One Wisconsin Now's $10,000 reward for recall petition tampering. Hmmmm...)

You know, I wouldn't have to constantly hammer these points if we ever had a "fair and balanced" state media reporting them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wisconsin jobs vs. U.S., by the pictures

I've been working over the last couple of days at making charts comparing how Wisconsin has fared against the rest of the country in creating jobs since the start of the Obama era, and then overlaying it with the performance under Jim Doyle and Scott Walker. Some of this may be a repeat, but for those of you that are visually inclined, I think you'll like it.

First, you can see the bomb that was dropped on the economy in 2009, with major job losses in the private sector and overall, and how the economy was stabilized and began to recover in 2010.

Wisconsin jobs vs. U.S. Jan 2009-Jan 2011

As you can see, Wisconsin was hurting even more than the country in 2009, but rebounded well in 2010, outperforming the rest of America, and we were nearly all the way back to the national average by the end of this 2-year period.

In fact, Wisconsin was especially picking up under Doyle and the Dems in the manufacturing sector, as their job performance was better than the national average after a good 2010.

Manufacturing 2009-2011, Wisconsin vs. U.S.

a key fact to remember given that Wisconsin was the state with the highest percentage of jobs in manufacturing in 2009, and that we were the only state in America with more manufacturing jobs than government jobs. Before Walker and the "tools" ever existed!

Now here is Wisconsin's jobs performance under Scott Walker. Remember that Wisconsin had been catching up to the U.S. in 2010, under Jim Doyle and the Dems' budget. Check out how things have fared since Walker and the WisGOPs took power, especially after Walker's budget passed and took effect starting in July 2011.

U.S. vs. Wisconsin jobs 2011

Check out that collapse after June! And look at the gap open up between Wisconsin and the rest of the country, with the U.S. staying on steady growth, while Wisconsin has fallen back to where we were at the start of the year. Using that chart and plugging in the numbers, you can safely say that Scott Walker's policies have cost Wisconsin over 22,000 private sector jobs and 21,500 jobs overall.

And one more chart for you. Apparently there's a Koch-fueled ad claiming that Walker has "led a manufacturing-led recovery" with an alleged 30,000 new jobs and 15,000 in manufacturing. Politi-crap said the numbers were half-true 2 weeks ago, but as usual, Politi-crap is falling for Republican spin. In addition to the numbers being woefully out of date (it's now 3,500 jobs added under Walker, not 30,000), Wisconsin is now TRAILING THE U.S. at creating manufacturing jobs under Scotty since the jobs have collapsed under Walker's budget.

2011 Manufacturing growth, Wisconsin vs. U.S.

So now you know the pictures that are making Scott Walker tremble so badly he was sprinting up to Wausau to take credit for a new corporate headquarters that used Doyle-era Democratic-led incentives to decide to come to Wisconsin. Sorry Scotty, you're still losing...BADLY, and we won't continue to allow you to continue to screw up what was working in our state.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Walker jobs disaster continues

I know it's a broken record, but I have to keep pounding it. Today's October Wisconsin jobs report, and it was another debacle. 9,300 more jobs lost in the private sector, and 9,700 overall. Put together with last month's disaster, and this state has lost 20,700 jobs in the last 2 months, and 27,600 since Walker's budget took effect on July 1. All of these job losses are while the U.S. has added jobs at a relatively steady pace at the same time, showing that new DWD Secretary Reggie Newsom hasn't had the time in office to develop into a good liar, as he's trying to put these losses off on the "national economy". The national economy ain't the one losing jobs, Reg.

With these losses, it now puts Wisconsin below the number of total jobs it was at in February and has fewer private sector jobs than the state had back before Act 10 was passed in March. So much for the tools and its lower taxes leading to private sector growth. And given that Wisconsin has had increased new jobless claims for each of the last 4 weeks, don't count on the jobs numbers turning around any time soon. In fact, when the BLS state-by-state report comes out, I bet Wisconsin comes out Number 1 under Walker's budget...for job losses by any state in America.

The lack of jobs under the Fitzwalkerstani policies are also finding its way into damaging our budget, as the Dept. of Revenue also had a big release today, putting out its monthly revenue numbers. October 2011 collections were FLAT compared to October 2012- not a good sign when inflation has been 3.5% and the state budget counted on rev increases of just over 3%. Income taxes were up all of 0.2% compared to last October, and corporate taxes were DOWN 45.9% (gotta love those tax cuts to the "job creators"). The only thing that held up in October was sales taxes, but of course sales taxes did- every post-season Brewer ticket, "Division Champs" gear bought, beer consumed, and night spent at the bars in that amazing Wisconsin sports month had sales tax counted against it, so I'd hope sales taxes did well. Now that baseball season's over, don't count on that coming through again.

So the 5.4% year-over-year revenue advantage for the 3 months has slipped to 3.7%, and the revenue figures picked up for the last 8 months of the last fiscal year (remember the "upside revenue surprise" that made me scream BROKE MY ASS last May?). So expect the revenue gap to grow, to go along with the extra Medicaid cuts, and hateful targeted lapses to the UW System.

If you were stupid enough to fall for Scott Walker's moon-shot promises, you've have to have creashed to earth by now and seen that the "bomb" that Scotty dropped was on this state's economic performance. We need to RECALL all of these failures, and I'll gladly be adding my name to the hundreds of thousands that are more than ready to end this Reign of Error.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Would you devastate Wisconsin schools to save $18?

According to the numbers released today, that's the question you have to ask yourself. Because while the headline number of Wisconsin property tax levies going down $47 million statewide might sound big for the Sykes-suckers, but it's a drop in the bucket for the average Wisconsinite. And not just because the drop is all of 1.01% of total school levies.

If you look at 2010 Census figures, you'll see that we have just under 5.7 million people lucky enough to live in Wisconsin. So that $47 million in property taxes is all of $8.28 person. WOO-HOO!! But, to be fair, a lot of those people are kids who don't exactly pay property taxes or rent, so let's also use the 2.625 million state housing units and see what the average place got for a tax break.

$17.93. That's the reduction for each household. Not even $18. Keep that thought

But wait, there's more! Check out your individual school district here, then go to the end of the report and note the statewide numbers, which not only show the total levy, but the tax rate. Then compare the mill rate with 2011, and a hidden point comes up.

School mill rates 2011 vs. 2012
2010-2011- 9.76 overall, 9.80 K-12
2011-2012- 9.84 overall, 9.88 K-12

That's right, school property tax rates went up this year. So if your property's value stayed the same in Wisconsin, it's likely your school property taxes will go up, regardless of how the Sykes/Belling/Walker team try to spin it. And if they don't go up, it's probably because your home's value went DOWN, and not by a little. But hey, who cares if you're underwater on your house when you can save $1.50 a month in (deductible) property taxes, right?

And now let's talk about the damage your community is taking on for the sake of that $1.50 a month. This handy-dandy interactive map will give a good idea what your district had to do because of Walker's moves. You've taken thousands of dollars away from the take-home pay of many of your community members, denigrated the education profession, raised class sizes in the classrooms of our youngest students, and caused numerous experienced teachers to leave the profession. and in the process have taken away one of Wisconsin great advantages over other states - it's top-quality education.

And what happens in the long-term if this continues and Wisconsin gains a reputation as a place of Idiocracy with a low value for education? Why don't you ask the Confederacy, where home of 7 of the 12 states with the highest unemployment rates (page 18), including 5over 10%. And these places also rank highest in poverty and per capita income (what a coincidence!). Low-wage and anti-union policies haven't come close to saving that area from staying behind, and it's because of the anti-education mentality and low-skill workforce. This is where we're heading if we continue to denigrate education to save a few bucks, and it's not the state that I care for and have chosen to live in.

So ask yourself, what kind of person would destroy this state's high quality of life and respect for education for....getting an extra bite from the Dollar Menu each month? Apparently someone that could use some of that $18 saved to go and buy a mirror, because the type of pathetic low-life that finds the huge costs to be an acceptable outcome needs to take a long, hard look at themselves. Kinda like this guy who's been arrested. (He even looks a bit like Scott Walker).

They need to remember the wisdom of Marge Gunderson. There are indeed more things to life than a little money.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


And it ain't going out of this state any time soon. Minnesota may eat our lunch when it comes to jobs and having the Twin Cities be the progressive location that 20-somethings choose far too often over Milwaukee, but they sure as hell aren't beating us in football.

More fun later in the week...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Yep, Kaukauna and other "tools" were Walker lies

Very interesting and telling survey from the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators that got released yesterday. Here's the major summary so you can check it out yourself, but a few key takeaways.

1. As Mike Tate and the DPW folks told us today, Walker and his honks' tired Kaukauna example has been shown to be a fraud, with increased class sizes and reduced teacher staffing. Yup, indeed it is , and looks Baraboo was also hurt on both counts by Walker's moves.

2. 82% of the districts responding reported that they lost personnel vs. last year, and nearly 2/3 of them lost teachers. Check out this map of places where teachers lost jobs, and you'll notice an interesting placement.
Note that a lot of those blue districts without teacher cutbacks seem to be clustered around the suburbs of Milwaukee and Madison, as well as a solid group in the Eau Claire/ La Crosse area. But the red, teacher-losing districts are a large amount of the rural districts outside of the Milwaukee area, as well as the big losses at MPS. Just the way Scott Walker designed it- help rich suburbs, hurt high-risk districts.

3. More than 2/5ths of the districts increased class sizes for Elementary School- the very times that they need smaller classes to allow for increased attention from teachers. At the higher grades, it's worth noting that over HALF of the districts responding cut class offerings in "career and tech" areas, and nearly half in art, music and phy.ed., choosing those cuts over "Core" areas (38%), foreign language (27%) and AP (22%).

While we need to offer classes for the college-bound in order to make our schools competitive academically, we also need to remember that employers say 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled because of a lack of skills< and that "most manufacturers expect the problem to worsen in coming years." So in light of this need and Wisconsin's strongly manufacturing-based economy...Scott Walker cut school aids which cut tech school classes at the K-12 level, and also cut tech college funding by 30 percent. And sorry Scotty, tech college students are likely to be just out of high school trying to expand on their voc-ed education, and you're trying to take both of these skill-gathering chances away from young people. Completely stupid and regressive on a lot of levels.

3. Lastly, THE "TOOLS" DID NOTHING TO CHANGE WHAT SCHOOLS DID THIS YEAR. Folkbum nails this point. The last pages of the study look into districts that stayed under their old bargaining agreements, and compared them to the schools that had no contract, no bargaining rights, and could use the "tools." There was a minor increase in teacher losses for the unionized schools, and an extra increase in class size for the "tool" schools. But there was really no difference at all, and now the "tool" schools have shot their bullets before next year's cuts come in.

In other words, the tools were a gimmick that accomplished nothing except to demonize teachers, push more of them into early retirement, and discourage others from entering the profession. The only reasons you'd want that result are 1. To send Wisconsin into Idiocracy and 2. To make schools "fail" so they can be sold off to Scooter Jensen and the voucher lobby.

And that is the Walker Admin's goal on public education, make no mistake about it. Remember, and RECALL.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jobs revisions show Wisconsin even further behind under Walker

Yesterday's October jobs report was notable not necessarily for the relatively tepid 80,000 job increase, but instead for the huge revisions in August and September, indicating 102,000 more jobs than previously reported. You can imagine the difference in the headlines if there were no revisions but 182,000 jobs were added. It would have been a "major upside surprise" instead of "jobs growth stays slow, around expectations." Guess it's all in how you look at the data, eh?

But what those revisions also do is make Scott Walker's failure to create jobs in Wisconsin even more blatant than before. I mentioned this when Wisconsin's brutal September job report came out, but let's run those numbers again with the positive revisions for the U.S.

Change in total jobs June-Sept. 2011
U.S. +0.30%
Wis. -0.69%

Change in private-sector jobs June-Sept. 2011
U.S. +0.40%
Wis. -0.50%

Let's put the numbers another way to show how far below the national trend Wisconsin is performing under Walker's budget:

June-Sept. 2011 Wisconsin jobs

Total jobs created in Wis. if at U.S. rate- 8,300
Actual total jobs created in Wisconsin - -19,300
Wisconsin underpeformance under Walker - 27,600 jobs

Private jobs created in Wis. if at U.S. rate - 9,400
Actual private jobs performance in Wisconsin - -11,900
Wisconsin underperformance under Walker- 21,300 jobs

These figures show that Scott Walker's approved policies could be held responsible for the loss of more than 27,000 total jobs and 21,000 private sector jobs, because if Wisconsin was just some normal state following the national trend, we would have had job growth these last 3 months.

And while the Brewer stimulus may reflect in the October numbers, this will still be well below the national trends for the last few months. And no matter what scummy dirty tricks Waukesha-County Republicans try to pull these massive failures and resulting budget deficit that'll result are the final nails in this corrupt administration's recall coffin.

See you downtown for football Saturday and Chase Bank protesting fun!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The CEO's lies come full-circle

Well, I'd like to thank Rep. Peggy Krusick for outing herself as the Jeff "Pay to" Plale of this legislative session. Peggy from Stallis (OK, SW Milwaukee, same thing) decided late last night that she would sponsor a race-baiting amendment removing race as a factor from consideration for the Talent Incentive Program. This program gives small college scholarships to people who come from several types of disadvantaged groups, with racial minority groups being among those (but not the only ones, as the J-S story points out that one-time imprisonment, first in family to college, and disabled are also groups that can get Talent Incentive scholarships).

After the Robin Voses of the world and the Wauzaukington County Republicans threw their wholehearted support behind the bill, every other Assembly Dem took the measure apart for the next several hours, so much so that the session was still live when I checked this morning.

This is culmination of that absurd study by the Koch-funded group trying to tear down affirmative action at the UW-Madison, which only succeeding in galvanizing massive protests on campus and confrontations against these Koch puppets, and it made me even more glad to be a Badger than I usually am (which is saying something). But you can see Koch's strategy- come up with a Big Lie (UW-Madison lets underserving minorities get into school at the expense of white students), try to let the narrative take hold in angry-man media and sucker in "both sides of the story" media to make your side seem legitimate, then use it as an excuse to have one of your legislative lackeys come up with a law that tries to take care of this "problem". This then allows the current power structure to stay in place, and if it REALLY works, dispirits minority students so much that they decline even more in achievement, which means the rich white folks don't have to work as hard to stay on top. That last part (not having to work as hard if you're rich) is the real intelligent part of the design, and the ultimate Koch goal of feudal oligarchy.

Let me reiterate one shocking stat I pointed out 7 weeks ago in a story on Wisconsin racial disparities in schooling.
The percentage of 2011 graduates prepared for college-level core subject areas also varied greatly by race, with 36% of white students in Wisconsin considered ready for college classes compared with only 4% of black students.
But the typical black student has the same chances as a white one in his or her K-12 schooling. Suuuuuure.

I hope Peggy's got a lot of cash coming to her as the "token Dem" for the Charles Sykes show after that pathetic performance, and we'd better see a nice primary challenge to her in the 7th Assembly District next year, just like how Dems ran Plale out of the 7th Senate District last year and got Chris Larson in return- a key move, as Plale would never have had the moral compass to be one of the Wisconsin 14.

These numbers also illustrate how absurd it is for the GOP to try to pass a bill allowing students' low test scores to be a main factor in getting teachers fired. When poverty/race, social environment, and a student's family's educational achievement are the largest factors in determining success in school, why are teachers supposed to be the only ones responsible for how a student does in school. I've got no problem with looking at test scores as a way to identify a school's deficiencies and room for improvement-finding ways to improve student performance and skill sets should always be the top goal in educational policy, and I think test scores might have a part in that. But the words of Milwaukee teachers' union president Bob Peterson are on the money when it comes to how attaching incentives to those scores changes teaching for the worse:
"There's no research that demonstrates that linking student test scores to teacher dismissal and discipline improves teaching and learning. In fact, it has been shown in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. - where these kinds of actions are taken - it narrows and dumbs down the curriculum, and encourages deceit and cheating," Peterson said.

Teachers can do a lot for a student, but those teachers' 7 hours a day in the classroom can't completely offset the other 17 hours a day and 3 months in summer that those same students are at a disadvantage. Anyone who believes that teachers are the sole determining factor in a student's test scores are clueless people that have no business making educational policy. Test-based compensation and retainment also leads to the classic adverse selection problem where some teachers may choose not to take jobs at challenging schools with at-risk kids because that teacher fears the students' low scores may lead to the teacher's reprimand. So guess who's left teaching the students who need the most dynamic teachers? Far too often, it's the low end of the barrell.

It's unwise at best to install test-based firings into law, but it's more likely that it's part of the scheme that CEO and Scooter Jensen and much of WisGOP want. These people want the end result of the privatization of education, both at the K-12 levels, and in universities. This allows for taxpayer funds to be funneled away from public, independent, fact-based education, and moved over to the voucher school lobby and the organizations that support them. And those lobbies, headed up by organizations like the Koch Brothers and the Bradley Foundation, are more than willing to sacrifice American competitiveness for a few dollars and legislators in their pockets.

That's a sacrifice Wisconsin and America can't afford to make. We gotta expose these sleazy groups, and take them down.

One year ago tonight...

""But to all those others who may not have voted for me, let me be clear, I intend to be governor of the entire state of Wisconsin. No matter where you live, no matter what your background, no matter who you voted for, we all live in Wisconsin together, and we're going to move this state forward together."

- Scott K. Walker, November 2, 2010, upon being elected governor of Wisconsin
Of all the lies that scumbag has told, this might be the biggest one. He's never followed through on these words for a second.

Happy birthday, Scotty. Hope you enjoy it, because it's the last one you'll ever have in the Governor' Office.

H/t Sly in the Morning