Saturday, December 10, 2016

Getting off Putin's coattails - - which Cheesehead goes first?

Who'll be the first of Wisconsin senior Trump boosters - - Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, and Reince Preibus - - to slide away from the Putin-enabled-White House squatter-to-be and steam clean the comsymp stain off their resumes?

I'm guessing Walker will the first to say, 'Trump who?', as he's the most accomplished chameleon in the group. 


'Ethanol, me?' 


'Right-to-work bill, now?'

'Presidential run,' nah?'

Flip-flppping is his second, er, first nature.

In fact, I can almost hear Walker saying, "You know, I was always a Ted Cruz kind of guy. Hey, I'm the one who zinged Trump in the debate with that 'we don't need an apprentice in the White House' line of mine. Sure wish I'd said "apparatchik.'

So my bailing out bet is on Walker, since Ryan still needs Trump to sign The Ryan Medicare Wipeout Budget and Priebus has thrown in with Steve Bannon for a top swamp-filling position.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Trump can make Exxon and Putin great again

If the Trump/Putin tag team is going to run the world, then this guy - - 
2012-04-16 Рекс Тиллерсон.jpeg
- - Rex Tillerson, the Exxon/Mobil CEO and Putin oil exploration partner could easily slide right in as the next US Secretary of State, as The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

You're not still holding that Alaska oil spill against the company, are you? 

C'mon, it's a new day.

That historic oil tanker shipwreck involving the Exxon Valdez was so long ago (1998-'99) that Exxon hadn't even taken over Mobil yet, and it was only for $80 billion, or about a sixth of the $500 billion deal Tillerson did with Putin to drill for oil together from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico.

Sounds to me like Tillerson is the right person to have his hand on our diplomatic tiller if America and Russia oil ventures are to be made great again.

And if and/or when he refuses to leave...

If it's proven through email records or other evidence that Donald Trump knew the Russians were working to tilt the Presidential election his way - - and, remember, he invited Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's emails - - he's got to be impeached, because that constitutional crisis is gonna make his business conflicts of interest look trivial.


The U.S. has identified individuals and groups who passed Democratic Party…
WASHINGTONPOST.COM|BY GREG MILLER

No wonder Trump is skipping his intelligence briefings

As Jack Nicholson might have said about the rigged election Trump just 'won' - - 
Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg
- - he can't handle the truth:
Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

Punishing out-of-line members is a Robin Vos perk

Turns out GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos - - 
Speaker Vos Blue Book Photo- - isn't just tangling with GOP Gov. Scott Walker over who gets to be the road-builder's best friend, as there's a group of Vos' colleagues not feeling especially collegial towards the Speaker right now:
Denial of chairmanships met with mixed response from Assembly GOP ranks

Trump is bringing invasive species to the swamp

There is no swamp draining. There never was going to be a swamp draining. It was all a lie concealed in a talking point mouthed to gullible crowds and pundits by a master media manipulation who is adding invasive species to the swamp

by handing over entire life-and-death federal agencies to even bigger predators: the billionaire liquidator profiteer and owner of a killer coal mine at Commerce, an enemy of clean water and air atop EPA, a sexist opponent of pay raises to run Labor, a foreclosure billionaire beneficiary at Treasury and a white power devotee up from the ooze to run the White House and whisper Twitter opportunities in the boss's ear while willing second banana and GOP First Clerk Reince Priebus lines up the lobbyists for their daily feeding.

Trump plans to block out, monetize 'spare time'

Our willingly distracted Dilettante-in-Chief - - 
Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg
- - hopelessly and habitually focused on TV and money rather than mastering the biggest day job in the world bizarrely handed him by a minority of voters, is already blocking out and elevating something completely incompatible ethically and pragmatically with the Presidency itself: 

Spare time for a second job.
Conway on Trump 'Apprentice' role: He'll do it in his spare time
I don't think in his wildest imagination that drown-the-government monkey-wrenched Grover Torquiest ever imagined he'd get there through presidential disinterest.

And you thought that Dick Nixon and George W. Bush had devalued the Presidency which is about to be turned through intentional default over to.the conspiratorial, fake news fabulists Steve Bannon and ex-General Matthew Flynn.

Imagine what they might do in their spare time?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

WI puts up some road signs, after Walker budgetary lunacy, pettiness

The Frank Lloyd Wright Trail through Wisconsin is official, with road signs, and that's cool.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, a self-guided tour of nine Wright-designed buildings in southern Wisconsin, was officially dedicated at a ceremony in Madison last Monday Dec. 5. 
The approximately 200-mile trail is marked by brown signs on highways and roads in nine counties.  
Frank Lloyd Wright portrait.jpg 

But...just for the record...let's remember that Scott Walker made it all harder to accomplish by vetoing from the last budget the signage funding - - a $50,000 pittance - - because it was included as a Wisconsin Department of Transportation expenditure - - and Walker didn't want the road-builders to miss even those relative pennies among billions intended for highway projects.


As I wrote earlier this year:
I noted in 2015 that Walker had used his line-item veto power to nix, among other things, a plan to have WisDOT post road signs directing people to various sites on what would have been called the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail. 
The trail runs through Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Dane, Iowa, Sauk and Richland counties. The state Department of Transportation will use $50,000 from the Department of Tourism to build signs along the trail directing travelers to specific Wright attractions...
See veto item #95 page 44 of his veto message
I wonder if some GOP operative worried that the expenditure by WisDOT was suddenly unconstitutional?

And I'll bet there was some staff time burned up at the public's expense in the Legislature, Walker's office and in both departments to authorize and move and get the funding switchero done so that WisDOT could put up the signs 'paid for' with Tourism dollars.

And these are the people who are running government like a business.


What business would that be? Rube Goldberg Machinery, Inc?


Also - - props to State Rep. Cory Mason, (D-Racine), for keeping his eye on the big picture and making sure this happened, despite Walker's robotically ideological and defiant pettiness.





Why I was shocked by Sean Duffy's attack on Madison

US GOP Congressman Sean Duffy's attacked Madison as a city filled with communists.

That shocked me.

Sean Duffy official congressional photo.jpg
Sean Duffy is a Congressman?

The last I'd heard,  Duffy was on a reality TV show. As was Donald Trump. Is this a trend? A coincidence? More fake news?


And does Duffy know Trump is a YUGE a fan of one Vladimir Putin, a former KGB operative and Communist Party member, and who is, lo these many years later, still a fan, he says:

You know that I, like millions of Soviet citizens, over 20 million, was a member of the Communist Party of the USSR and not only was I a member of the party but I worked for almost 20 years for an organization called the Committee for State Security,” Putin said, referring to the KGB.
“I was not, as you know, a party member by necessity,” he said. “I liked Communist and socialist ideas very much and I like them still.”
And it looks like Trump is going to elevate our oligarchs, following fellow climate change denier Putin's lead.

So why would Sean Duffy bash communists when his party's leader and President-elect has a man crush on one of the last unreconstructed comsymps on the world stage.

I also noticed that Duffy now says he was poking fun:

Duffy responded on Twitter by saying “the PC crowd is humorless."
Gotta be a typo there; Duffy had to have meant that "the CP crowd is humorless" - - CP, of course, being shorthand for the Communist Party - - because have you ever seen Putin crack a smile?

Never the less, some people in Madison are really ticked off at Duffy and are calling him a McCarthyite - - a pejorative reference to a certain "Tall Gunner" Joe McCarthy, the infamous and all around vicious Fox Valley '50's red-baiting GOP Congressman.


I'm not buying that.


Tail-gunner Joe was too principled a red-baiter to have wriggled away from a name-calling fight he started by saying, in effect, 'just kidding.'








The Trump con continues

Trump said knew more than the generals, but has hired three of them.
Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg
He was pledged to drain the swamp, but has used, hired and designated for Cabinet posts Wall Street and Goldmann Sachs insiders and billionaires - - and lobbyists - - who will continue to manipulate the law for their own gain - - as will no-divestiture-Trump - - and squeeze every dime from everyday mortgage and credit card and vehicle borrowers.

He was for the American worker, but has attacked one of their local labor leaders, blames them for corporate outsourcing determined and implemented from behind closed boardroom doors, and plans on hiring a Labor Secretary who doesn't want the minimum wage raised for the fast-food workers who work at his Hardee and Carl Jr. franchises.

And if hunting and fishing are your past times - - and if you prefer clean drinking water to toxic, even flammable home wells and taps - - forget having an EPA which enforces clean air and water rules that keep the mercury and smog and manure away.




Get ready for air and water 'regulation,' Russian-style

Let me do two things in light of Donald Trump's selection of sworn US EPA exterminator and energy company errand boy Scott Pruitt US Environmental Protection Agency administrator:

1.  Apologize to all insecticide, oil company and animal feeding operators officials I smeared in this posting when I said:

Nine months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned against flushing water systems before testing for lead, the state Department of Natural Resources has not yet passed that advice on to public water systems in Wisconsin.
I'm guessing that [Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy] Stepp and [Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scptt] Walker figure that Donald Trump will appoint an insecticide plant manager or oil company CEO or feedlot manure producer to run the US EPA so Wisconsin can go about leaving the business of clean air and water to the pollution lobby.
Pruitt and the damage he will do puts him in a special-interest bell-hopping category by himself.
Smoke stacks from a factory.
2.  Pruitt's selection shows us also that Trump really loves Russian strongman Vladimir Putin's 'management' model and methods.

Putin serves the oligarchs, the billionaire-deal making oil and natural gas extractors he's made richer if they play ball with him.


Pruitt - - and whomever Trump selects to run the Interior Department with its our oil and natural gas-laden Bureau of Land Management properties and off-shore leasing powers - - will be key Trump American oligarch enablers who will green-light whatever these resource drillers (think frackers and Florida coast and Gulf of Mexico and Arctic National Wildlife Preserve) and pipeline planners and coal-burning power plant belchers will demand and obtain.


Regardless of the caustic, life-expectancy-diminishing effects from dirty air and water that will be dumped literally on Americans across the US, much as what the Russian people suffer with everyday because, like Trump, their authoritarian Glorious Leader thinks climate change is a hoax that restrains their corporate, polluting pals:

Guests staying at a modern hotel in Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Winter Olympics recall signs in English next to their water faucets that read: “Do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous...” 
Russia has the dubious distinction of having the world’s worst air pollution, according to international experts. An assessment in 2011 that supported that conclusion noted that only 15 percent of Russian city dwellers breathe unpolluted air... 
One reason Russia’s pollution continues to be so bad is that the country has never devoted adequate resources to addressing it. Part of that is ideology. President Vladimir Putin has said publicly that manmade climate change is a lie that Western countries have perpetrated to try to hold back development in Russia and other countries.
Think this can't happen here?

Did you think Donald Trump would become President?

Did you know that he has pledged to demolish the EPA, leaving "tidbits?"

3. One more thing. 

If environmental protection in name only is left to the states (wink-wink), look how Wisconsin GOP Gov. Walker has already rigged it with his 'chamber of commerce mentality'-managed Department of Natural Resources steadily undermining the public interest.

And in his corner is ally and GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel, who ran for the office promising to sue (as he did) the US EPA over clean air initiatives - - the very effort led by incoming EPA destroyer and Trump nominee Scott Pruitt - - and who appointed an energy industry lobbyist as the Wisconsin Attorney General office chief of staff.

"Moscow on the Hudson" was a play.

"Sochi on Lake Superior" - - where the DNR may approve a 26,000 hog fattening operation, for example - - can be the reality.

Vos adds perk to Assembly members worth up to $1,380

Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker and fiscal-conservative-in-name-only Robin Vos added another ten days of per diem expense payment eligibility to members of his house - - a move that could bring some Assembly members an additional $1,380 per year.
Vos robin.jpg
The last time I checked, these payments could be claimed by Assembly members as work-related, thus tax-free with added value, and are provided in an honor system. No receipts for Assembly members' gasoline, meals or overnight lodging are required, and the members' business at the State Capitol for which a reimbursable trip to Madison is made can be as brief as a stop at the office or attending a single meeting before returning home.

The State Senate Majority leader sets a separate per diem payment schedule.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trump cyber-bullies IN union leader, forgets Melania's speech

Remember when Melania Trump said her mission were she to become US First lady would be combating cyber-bullying?
Melania Trump (8 February 2016).jpg
"Our culture has gotten too mean," she said.

So tonight Donald Trump cyber-bullied an Indiana Steelworkers Union local president who had the temerity to call out Trump for vastly overstating the number of jobs Carrier would not be sending to Mexico.

Imagine - - the President-elect uses his world-class bully pulpit and 12 million-strong Twitter account to bully a union local leader.

Donald J. Trump2h
If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues
   
Donald J. Trump4h
Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!
Seems Melania Trump needs to take her hubby to the woodshed.

Trump's EPA pick is climate denier, friend of dirty air

[Updated] Donald Trump's pick for US EPA administrator is Scott Pruitt, a corporatist, anti-environmental and anti-Obama co-litigant with Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel - - an appointment which couldn't be worse for clean air, clean water and fair play for citizens.

More, here.

Schimel, by the way, has imitated Pruitt's operation in Oklahoma by setting up within the Wisconsin Attorney General's office a new unit of hard-right lawyers under the supervision of a grandiosely-titled Solicitor General, to sue the federal government.

The pick will make it easier for Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources to further ease back on clean air and water enforcement, knowing that Trump's corporate-obeisant EPA will forego regulation and green light more private control of these common resources.

President-elect Donald Trump is planning to pick Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA, putting one of the agency's most hostile critics and a skeptic of climate change science at its helm, sources close to the transition said Wednesday...
Pruitt has also been a leading critic and challenger of the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, also known the Clean Water Rule, which has drawn fierce attack from energy, agricultural and development interests. Trump has cited that regulation, which increases the number of streams and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act, as one of his top targets when he takes office...
Scott Pruitt by Gage Skidmore.jpg
His LinkedIn biography boasts that he is “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” and says that as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association he “led the charge with repeated notices and subsequent lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their leadership’s activist agenda and refusal to follow the law.” 
Pruitt has also been a critic of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the law put in place by Congress a decade ago that requires oil refiners to blend corn ethanol and other biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply. EPA implements the rule.
This isn't putting the fox in the hen house. It's hiring the fox to burn it down:
Trump names Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general suing EPA on climate change, to head the EPA
Because, as Trump told us, he wanted to reduce the agency to "tidbits."

in March, Trump kissed off the whole deal and said he'd do exactly what he's done with the Pruitt pick.

Trump validates his contempt for clean air, water

Twice.
Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg
Once when the super-developer appointed today Scott Pruitt, oil industry front man and climate change denier whose job will be to demolish the EPA.

Yes, demolish - - because in March, Trump kissed off the whole deal and said he'd do exactly what he's done with the Pruitt pick.
Trump promised to reduce the agency to "tidbits."
"We'll be fine with the environment," Trump told Fox News last year. "We can leave a little bit, but you can't destroy businesses."

Clarke not picked by Trump; focus must shift to jail deaths

Because a retired US general, and not Milwaukee's ultra-rightwing Sheriff David Clarke, will be named by Donald Trump as Homeland Secretary designee, it's good to read that there is a growing consensus atop Milwaukee County government that the four recent deaths in the jail Clarke administers should be investigated by an outside authority.

Time's a-wastin'.
David Clarke by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Let's get busy.

Big WI CAFO ginormous manure yield

I noted yesterday that Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources could approve several major water-demanding and environmentally-destructive projects - - including a 26,000-feeding operation in NW Wisconsin, a high-end golf course slapped into a rare sand dune-and-artifact rich nature preserve adjoining and intruding into Kohler Andrae State Park south of Sheboygan along Lake Michigan and a massive dairy operation in the state's central sands Wood County ironically named Golden Sands by the family of Walker donors proposing it.
File:Confined-animal-feeding-operation.jpg
One recent news story gives you an idea of how not-so-golden that Wood County site could become, and why local officials there, anticipating a DNR green light, are trying to enact some local land and water use controls:
The proposed Golden Sands Dairy would house 5,300 animals, and produce 55 million gallons of liquid manure and 25,000 tons of solid manure each year...
The town has been involved in legal action with the Wysocki Family of Companies, owner of Golden Sands, since 2012...
The new ordinance points to groundwater monitoring wells near the existing Central Sands Dairy in Juneau County, which is also owned by Wysocki.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Walker donor's feedlot, water use plan at DNR decision point

[Update] This is an especially-detailed update by the Milwaukee Journal's Lee Bergquist on a proposed major dairy expansion by the Wysocki family - - major Walker donors, as has been reported separately.

I'd noted the dairy development, among several big projects across the state which, if approved, would eat up big tracts of land and require huge withdrawals of groundwater.

[Update - - here's the estimated annual manure yield.]

And which are primed for approval by Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources which he put under the control and thumb - - with a litany of negative environmental and democratic process setbacks - - of former GOP state senator/DNR critic/developer/McDonald's manager Cathy Stepp.

And don't forget - - Big ag gave legislators and the Walker administration their marching orders: We want the water, on our terms.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

New alarm over WI's deficit/pothole-plagued roads

While GOP Gov. Scott Walker - - he whose early backing for the $6.4 billion SE WI freeway system rebuild and expansion without the necessary funding in hand is the main reason the state transportation system is buried in debt and chaos - - and State GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos point blaming fingers like divorcing parents over spending sprees and unpaid bills the kids will inherit, Team Walker says the FUBAR is getting worse. 
The share of roads in poor condition will double, debt payments and the state's stream of cash for road and highway projects will barely grow, a state official told lawmakers Tuesday. 
By 2027, the share of state roads in poor condition would double to 42% while the money available to address those growing challenges would increase at only one-quarter the recent inflation rate, state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb testified to lawmakers Tuesday.
The SE WI expansion and rebuilding includes 127 new lane miles and many wider ramps - - adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the bottom line, thus slowing down or starving completely other projects statewide and aid to local governments for road repairs which, if left unfunded, only raise local property taxes, so-called vehicle 'wheel taxes,' and motorists costs in blown tires, broken shocks and damaged axles. And nerves.


Remember, these are the same fiscal conservative phonies that are also looking for a second round of state park and trails fee increases from the people to shore up the DNR's intentionally-slashed shrinking budgets because Walker ideology diminishes public service and mission even if it means everyday folks have to pick up the tab.


So get ready for either increased vehicle and licensing fees, or gas taxes, or, more likely, deep service cuts across the board so the road-builders will get their politicos contracts and Walker can retain his phony, ideologically-and-perpetual-campaign-related 'no/never-tax-increase pledge' - - already violated in his first budget - - (though parks fees somehow don't count).


WI lawmakers see harm in Stepp's park fee plan

Democrats on the Wisconsin Legislature's budget-writing committee have raised questions in writing to Wisconsin DNR Secretary and Scott Walker chief 'chamber of commerce mentality' implementing tool Cathy Stepp about her proposal to continue raising state parks fees and offer corporate sponsors signage or other perks in the parks following the Walker administration's earlier elimination of state operating support for the state park system:

"...we are concerned that this approach to continually increase fees for Wisconsin families and sell out our parks to private companies is short-sighted and will not be sustainable," the legislators said, in part.

I will reprint the letter at the end of this posting, but first point you to two items for context:


*  I'd noted Stepp's plan last week:

The 'chamber of commerce mentality' Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources which agency Secretary, former developer and McDonald's manager Cathy Stepp - -
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
- - Scott Walker and their fee-happy, fake-friends-of-the-working-family GOP legislative allies have foisted on our formerly progressive state are looking to a) again raise state parks fees and, b) raise more money to replace the tax dollars they stripped from the DNR budget by, c) selling signage space so sponsoring corporations can welcome you to your favorite state park or trail.
 
Imagine setting up camp or heading off into the north woods with a billboard greeting or sendoff from the good folks who want to sell you triple-decker bacon burgers, gasoline, weedkiller, or ED pills.
*  And remember that Stepp recently blew off legislators of her own party as well as the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau by declining to answer questions about about the state's wastewater treatment planning - - a pattern of non-compliance echoing Walker and DNR disregard of the US Clean Water Act for five years.

With that in mind, here is the legislators' letter, dated yesterday:
----------------------------------------------------

December 5, 2016

Secretary Cathy Stepp
Department of Natural Resources
101 South Webster Street
Madison, WI 53703

Dear Secretary Stepp,

We recently received your agency’s report outlining potential revenue options to address the budget shortfall facing the Wisconsin State Park System for the 2017-19 State Budget. We appreciate the opportunity to review the revenue proposals in this report.

During the 2015-17 State Budget when the Republicans serving on the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) voted to remove all state funds from the State Park System we voiced many concerns, including that the cut would result in a structural budget imbalance in the Parks Account. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) highlighted at the time that increases in fees would not sustain the 28% cut in funding and estimated a structural deficit of $1.4 million in the Parks Account. Due to this estimate being based on prior years, we would like to request updated numbers on actual revenue and park attendance from the DNR for 2015-16 to better examine the impact of the revenue options you proposed.

In providing potential revenue options for state parks going forward, your report includes important considerations including recreational and camping use trends, future population demographics, technology and modernization. However, many of these considerations seem to be in conflict with each other with the funding decisions recently made. For example, increasing the number of campsites with electrical hook-ups will require increased state funding. This is in addition to the fact that the state is already tens of millions of dollars behind in deferred maintenance projects and upgrades. Acknowledging the importance of investing in the modernization and quality of our state parks while at the same time eliminating state funding seems counterintuitive. 

In addition, your report also ignores any discussion of the impact of the increased financial burden on access and overall attendance. The revenue options you propose make up the shortfall by putting an additional burden on Wisconsin families that for decades have been able to enjoy our natural resources and heritage without significant financial constraint. By continuing to raise fees you are making the State Park System accessible only to those who can afford it. Do any of the revenue projections provided consider lower attendance?

Your report proposes an increase in campsite fees up to an additional $5 a night, increasing admission prices up to $5 a day, and electrifying more campsites to increase per night costs. Continually increasing fees in this way could deter more and more families from camping and spending time in our State Parks. You stated that “the park system works to draw new customers to camping and outdoor recreation.” But, how many times can you raise fees before it becomes unaffordable for Wisconsin families?

Your report also proposes merchandizing the state parks by securing intellectual property rights through trademark and copyright patents in sponsorships and advertising. Selling our state park names and brands to private companies is a mistake that other parks have already made and one that we should not consider in Wisconsin. When this was brought up last budget cycle, the LFB gave examples of California and Virginia where self-sustaining parks did not work and pointed to a National Conference of State Legislatures report that stated, "Although revenues from park admission fees, camping fees, golf course charges and restaurants can help fill the gaps, outside of certain very popular parks, they are not enough to make parks self-sustaining."  This is especially true if you consider the modernization upgrades that future demographics desire and the deferred maintenance that will need to be funded in order to maintain the quality in our state parks that make them a destination.

These recommendations are troubling because Wisconsin’s State Parks attract millions of visitors and contribute more than $1 billion annually to the state’s economy. State parks increase tourism and provide economic benefits to surrounding communities through visitor spending on gas, food, lodging, recreational equipment and guide services. The decision to eliminate all state funding appears to be driven by ideological principle rather than good economic and fiscal policy. Considering the economic and quality of life benefit to state residents, a strong case could be made for additional state investment in our parks that does not discourage access by individual users. Given the mandate from Governor Walker to make our State Park System self-sustaining, we are concerned that this approach to continually increase fees for Wisconsin families and sell out our parks to private companies is short-sighted and will not be sustainable.

Thank you again for taking the time to read through our concerns on the DNR’s revenue options for the Wisconsin State Park System.  We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to reviewing updated numbers on actual revenue and park attendance from the DNR for 2015-16.

Sincerely,



LENA TAYLOR                                                                                JON ERPENBACH
State Senator                                                                                      State Senator
4th District                                                                                           27th District




CHRIS TAYLOR                                                                              GORDON HINTZ
State Representative                                                                         State Representative
76th District                                                                                        54th District


cc:       Governor Scott Walker
Joint Committee on Finance, Co-Chairs