Wisconsin’s roads are in terrible shape.
“In February, U.S. News and World Report ranked Wisconsin 44th in the country for its road conditions, a slight improvement from its ranking of 49th last year.”
And the roads are in terrible shape because of the trickle down economics policies of Scott Walker, the Republican Governor:
In an April article from the Capital Times, the sad state of Wisconsin’s Budget under Scott Walker was put on full display:
“In 2009-10, 11 percent of the state’s transportation revenue went to interest on its debt. Now it’s 20 percent and is projected to climb by about 1 percent each year if the state continues to borrow as it has, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The total amount of transportation-related debt the state owes has nearly doubled over the last decade, from $2.6 billion in 2007 to $4.4 billion in 2017, according to the LFB. Transportation projects now make up 45 percent of total state borrowing, up 10 percentage points from a decade ago.”
Why has this happened? The answer should sound familiar to anyone who has been paying attention to Republican governance over the last 40 years: tax cuts and tax credits for businesses and the wealthy that were issued with a promise that a booming economy would make up for the lost tax revenue and tax credit giveaways. In short: Trickle Down Economics. It hasn’t worked in Wisconsin. It hasn’t worked anywhere it has been tried. Yet, they keep trying.
Since taking office, Scott Walker has enacted a slew of tax cuts and tax credits that have severely cut into the State’s tax revenue.
Now, news has come out that the Scott Walker administration was fully aware of the predicament they had put themselves in: having busted the budget so that they did not have money to pay for roads. But instead of deciding to reverse course and repeal their tax cuts for the rich so that Wisconsin could pay for decent roads, the Scott Walker administration looked into selling Wisconsin’s roads to a foreign billionaire in London:
The Journal Sentinel reported that Walker’s Transportation Secretary met with a mysterious London billionaire to talk about selling off Wisconsin’s highways:
Gov. Scott Walker’s transportation secretary told business officials and others last week he had talked to a London financier about selling off Wisconsin’s highways but had rejected the idea.
Transportation Secretary Dave Ross told a group last week that Walker’s administration was adopting new ways of getting its work done and mentioned in passing his discussion about selling off roads, according to people familiar with the meeting.
If selling a State’s roads to a foreign billionaire seems like a crazy idea, you haven’t been paying attention to what these radical Republicans like Scott Walker have been up to lately. They want to privatize all governmental functions.
They also want to privatize all of our schools. Betsy DeVos has already been pushing that goal in Michigan:
The lack of regulation had the desired effect: Michigan became a boom state for a growing new education sector. By 2000, Michigan had 184 charter schools, by Miron’s count, more than any state but Arizona and California. In a 2002 book that Miron wrote with Christopher Nelson called “What’s Public About Charter Schools?” the authors consider two different charter models deployed by states: competitive and collaborative. While the collaborative approach encouraged the public and private sectors to “share innovations,” Michigan favored the other approach: “Engler wanted to lift public schools,” Miron told me, “but he believed in getting as much competition as quickly as possible. It became the Wild West state: Push, push, push.” While other states — Miron cited Ohio, Texas and Arizona — also emerged as exemplars of the “competitive” model, most have since reintroduced some regulation. “Michigan is still an outlier,” Miron said. “No state comes near us when it comes to privatization.”
It hasn’t worked. From that same 2017 article:
Michigan’s K-12 system is among the weakest in the country and getting worse. In little more than a decade, Michigan has gone from being a fairly average state in elementary reading and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. It’s a devastating fall. Indeed, new national assessment data suggest Michigan is witnessing systemic decline across the K-12 spectrum. White, black, brown, higher-income, low-income — it doesn’t matter who they are or where they live. …
They also want to privatize Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Iowa Republicans have already done so with Medicaid:
The latest news about Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system pours more salt in the wounds of those who have suffered from the cuts made by the private companies hired by the State to manage the system.
The state announced it’s paying an additional $344 million to two companies that run Iowa’s Medicaid system.
Of that money, $103 million will come from Iowa taxpayers, the rest will come from the federal government.
A new agreement between the state and two private insurers means taxpayers will foot a $103 million increase to the state’s $5 billion Medicaid program. Amerigroup of Iowa and UnitedHealthcare will continue to cover for the state’s privatized health care system, which provides care to more than 600,000 Iowans.
The reason given by Iowa Republicans for privatizing the State’s Medicaid system was that it would save taxpayer money by being more “efficient”. The only efficient thing the privatization of the State’s Medicaid system has done is pour taxpayer money into the hands of corporate executives.
It has been a giant scam. Iowans are now paying more money for lower quality health care. Here are a few examples:
This was the second year in a row that UnitedHealthcare attempted to make such cuts to Campbell’s services, claiming they were “not medically needed.” He pushed back both times, drawing statewide attention as an example of a severely disabled Iowan struggling to maintain care under the state’s shift to private Medicaid management.
Privatizing roads is just a natural next step in the GOP’s plan to disintegrate government so that corporations can extract profit from citizens in every manner possible.