Sunday, April 17, 2011

Walker Rethinking - - Not Hard Enough - - Some Of His Recycling Cuts

He's apparently heard enough from localities that it's a mistake to end through his budget the state mandate that communities provide recycling - - a popular program that keeps reclaimable materials out of landfills - -  but he still wants to trim, then end state assistance that keeps these programs running.

I've been writing about this for a while. 

Recycling is such a no-brainer. It's got huge public support developed over decades.

A cleaner Milwaukee or Waukesha or small north woods community, with less land-filling of trash, is good for the entire state and its residents, regardless of party.

And Wisconsin businesses buy and use recycled materials, so why, Gov. Walker, if you are so one-note about creating jobs, would you go backwards on recycling and restrict those markets?

Business examples abound:


And here.

Or how about here?

This is an opportunity for local governments, environmental groups and businesses to work together to maintain the program and to educate the public about all the benefits of recycling.

That same coalition can work on the same basis to maintain the phosphorus-control regulation, or on Great Lakes Restoration and other basic, quality-of-life issues. It's an opportunity to be grabbed. There is no downside.

[Read a powerful State Journal about the phosphorus rule, here.]

This is a way to get off the small government/big government argument, or the business/environment divide and talk instead about smart government and shared activities that keeps pollution out of the land, air and water.

But withdrawing state grant support for recycling programs puts all the financial pressure for maintaining it on the very local governments Walker is already deeply targeting for de-funding - - thus forcing higher local fees (no smudge on his record) or reduced services - - so it's too soon to give him credit for a better policy or a change of mind.

His plan calls for taking state recycling funds now distributed to local governments and moving those dollars to funding for economic development, whatever that means.

That's another victory for ideology over practicality, and also pure Walker hypocrisy, as he ran hard against the Doyle administration for what Walker and Republicans continuously called "raids" on segregated funds, like highways and patients' compensation, for other purposes.

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