The outgoing Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has decided to give away millions more of taxpayer dollars to a private company before he leaves office:
Taxpayers will pay a Fox Valley company about $25 million over five years under a deal struck by Gov. Scott Walker in his last weeks in office using powers the Legislature recently voted to strip from his successor.
Kimberly-Clark, which makes Depend undergarments and other personal care products, will receive the incentive package in an effort from Walker to preserve 388 jobs in one of its plants.
The last-minute deal comes after GOP leaders for months could not find enough votes in the state Senate to pass a $70 million package over 15 years for Kimberly-Clark. Some Republican lawmakers called that proposal a bad deal for taxpayers and the free market, and Democrats wanted legislation that addresses the entire paper and forest products industry rather than just one company within it.
Walker was able to strike the latest deal with Kimberly-Clark without seeking approval from the Legislature because it is smaller than the last proposal.
As was noted, Scott Walker did this using powers that he has now taken away from his Democratic successor.
Wisconsin voters elected Tony Evers, a Democrat, as their next Governor, and Josh Kaul, also a Democrat, as their next Attorney General. However, Republicans retained majority control of both the State Senate and State Assembly. And while Tony Evers will move into the Governor’s house in January, Republican Scott Walker is still the Governor for the next few weeks. So, naturally, Republicans in Wisconsin’s State Senate and Assembly called a lame-duck session of the State legislature in order to pass new limits on the power of the Governor and the Attorney General, limits that were not in place when Republican Scott Walker was Governor and Republican Brad Schimel was Attorney General.
After a frantic, extraordinary 22-hour legislative session, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly on Wednesday morning joined their Senate colleagues in passing a sweeping package of bills intended to curb the authority of incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
The legislation now goes to the desk of departing Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has signaled he will sign off on it before he leaves office in early January.
The final bill will weaken Evers’ ability to institute rules to enact laws and grant the legislature control of the state economic development board through September of next year, the AP reported. It also goes after the power of incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, handicapping his ability to move forward with his campaign promise to withdraw Wisconsin from a federal lawsuit that aims to repeal Obamacare.
Some Republicans recognized just how undemocratic this all is, including a former Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott McCallum, who urged outgoing Governor Scott Walker not to sign the bills.
Former Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum wants the Republican Party to play nice. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Republican politician encouraged outgoing Governor Scott Walker to not subscribe to the GOP’s efforts to weaken incoming Democratic governor Tony Evers’ transition.
Republican lawmakers are seeking to pass legislation that will complicate Evers’ rise to authority in the state. To avoid the “appearance of sour grapes,” McCallum proposed Walker should consider talking over forthcoming legislation with the Governor-elect before signing anything officially into law.
“It’s the wrong time to do it, it’s not done for the right reason,” McCallum told the Journal Sentinel. “It is not transparent. It is not a good way to create public policy.”
The 68-year-old former lawmaker and businessman called the current state of politics a game between the Democratic and Republican parties. He proposed Walker veto many of the proposals that his party has put forward in haste to secure their outgoing power. McCallum lamented the appearance that the Republican Party is more in prone to partisanship than its rival lawmakers.
“We seem to be going down a very slippery slope of personal power over public policy,” McCallum said. “It appears completely political, like a power grab.”
Unfortunately, Scott Walker cannot be swayed by calls to ensure pesky little things like democracy, and signed the bills to limit the powers of the incoming Democrats:
Scott Walker, the outgoing Republican governor of Wisconsin, on Friday signed into law measures that diminish the power of his Democratic successor and expand the authority of Republican lawmakers who teamed up with him over the last eight years to move the state firmly to the right.
Mr. Walker approved the measures over the vehement objections of the incoming governor and despite fierce protest in the State Capitol as Republican lawmakers rushed the bills through in a hastily-called session last week. Tony Evers, the Democrat who beat Mr. Walker in the November election, has suggested that he may file suit over the changes and said that Mr. Walker had chosen “to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin.”
Mr. Walker’s move will solidify some of the policies that made him a hero to many conservatives nationally and, for a brief time, a leading presidential candidate. But participating in what many Democrats consider a legally dubious power grab also cemented another widely held view: that Mr. Walker is a bruising partisan willing to break precedent and ignore protests for political gain.
“The last eight years have been very much characterized by the view of, ‘We’ve got the power, we’re going to do what we want and anybody else, that’s too bad,’” said James E. Doyle, Mr. Walker’s Democratic predecessor as governor, who called the last-minute bills “unseemly.”
Scott Walker apparently doesn’t see the hypocrisy in continuing to use some of these powers, while he also signs bills that would take away those same powers from his Democratic successor. Or, maybe Scott Walker just doesn’t want any other Governor to break his record of giving away taxpayer money to private companies. Of course, it is doubtful that any other Governor would even come close. Scott Walker has already put the Wisconsin budget in generational danger because of billions of dollars he gave to a foreign company: Foxconn.
But what probably sold Foxconn on Mount Pleasant were the massive tax breaks Wisconsin offered to seal the deal – breaks that could end up costing the state $4.8bn if the project hits all of its targets. It’s the latest giveaway in a series of corporate welfare cheques cut for highly profitable tech companies and the largest to a foreign firm ever in the US.
Foxconn’s deal has proved especially controversial. A recent poll by Marquette University Law School showed 49% of Wisconsinites believe the state is paying more in incentives than it can get back, while 38% believe the state will at least break even.
In order to do so, Walker will have to make good on the promise that Foxconn will help create 13,000 new jobs in the region and transform an area still feeling the cold winds that followed the hollowing out of the US manufacturing industry.
Foxconn itself has been more circumspect on the number of jobs it will create, saying in a press release it will “create 3,000 jobs with the potential to grow to 13,000 new jobs”. Even if 13,000 new jobs are created, Wisconsin would be paying $346,153 per job at a subsidy of $4.5bn. An astronomical sum, but nothing compared to the $1.5m per job cost if the deal ends up creating just 3,000 new positions.
When Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker was first elected, he declared that under his leadership, Wisconsin would be open for business. He promised that his agenda of cutting taxes and fighting unions would lead to businesses knocking down the door to open up in Wisconsin.
Instead, the opposite occurred:
According to the “gold standard” of job metrics, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, since Walker was elected in 2011, Wisconsin has lost 150 manufacturing establishments, at a time when most other states added them.
Now, you might ask, has Wisconsin’s job growth always ranked the in the bottom half of US States? Nope.
Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin was not “open for business”, it was open for taxpayer money to be given to businesses, with very little benefit being passed on to the people of Wisconsin, and while the rest of the state budget paid the price.
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.”
And the quality of Wisconsin’s roads suffered as a result:
“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.”
Now on his way out the door, rather than hold it open graciously for his successor, Scott Walker is choosing to throw up roadblocks and cause more damage to the state budget while he’s at it. What a guy.