Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Walker flip pattern presaged in 'no-yes-maybe' on stimulus $

[Updated] Walker's identity as a Romneyesque etch-a-sketching flip-flopper (his recent, sudden situational reversals on ethanol, right-to-work and immigration) is getting some national traction - - here and here and here and now here  -  but Wisconsin politicos will simply say 'We've seen that before.'

Noted on this blog, too, but read on.

When Walker was Milwaukee County Executive, and eyeing the Wisconsin Governor's Mansion, it was fashionable for Republican pols and their allies in the talk radio echo chamber to bash newly-elected President Barack Obama by trashing his stimulus program - - and by extension, federal spending and Big Government.

Walker, on cue, went on the record in January, 2009 and said he would not ask for any federal stimulus dollars and upped his boast as County Executive by saying he'd decline any new federal funding, period, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:
The only federal economic stimuli Walker endorses are tax cuts, and he credited President-elect Barack Obama for recommending $300 billion in such cuts as part of a much larger stimulus plan.  
Walker said federal aid for ongoing state or local operations would only put off the day of reckoning for unbalanced budgets.  
Though he doesn't categorically reject the idea of federal money going for local infrastructure projects, Walker said he won't ask the federal government for anything. 
"All we are asking for is 'do no harm,' " the county executive said. "I'm not asking for any new projects or things to be done here."
Then came the double-talk and the flop, because, lo-and-behold, it became known that Walker's departments had already applied for and received tens of millions of dollars in stimulus and other federal funding.


So Walker said he meant he wouldn't take any stimulus funding which required a local, county match - - but then pulled that back before the ink had dried on that fine print:
Walker said his ban on funding that required a local match wasn't absolute. 
"I didn't say 'never' on match," he said.
For the record, noted on this blog at the time:

Walker's Flip-Flops On Stimulus Funds Are Gold-Medal Worthy 
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's off-again-on-again-off-again-on-again relationship with federal stimulus financing is a political mystery tour without an apparent end.

An online business news site in Milwaukee weighed in with this explanation:
The drama surrounding the power struggle between the Milwaukee County Board and County Executive Scott Walker over federal economic stimulus funds is showing no signs of conclusion just yet. 
The board voted on Tuesday, 16-2, to override Walker's veto of a county policy to apply for federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 
Hours after the board overrode his veto, Walker released a list of $130 million in stimulus projects applied for or received by his department heads. Walker said his initiatives were begun prior to the county board's resolution on stimulus funds and reflect those projects that meet his criteria to protect the county taxpayers:
  • No matching funds required by Milwaukee County.
  • No long-term federally mandated financial commitments required.
  • Expenditure of requested funds will not obligate Milwaukee County to new operating or maintenance expenses.
In a Milwaukee Biz Blog last week, Walker repeated his stance that he would not apply for federal stimulus funds that required a local match of funds: 
"At the start of the year, I laid out clear criteria for any application for federal 'stimulus' funds: No matching funds required by Milwaukee County. Most federal grants require a 20 percent (or greater) match from the local government. 'Free money' sounds nice until you read the fine print and realize local taxpayers could be required to provide a match, which they cannot afford. 
For example, if our county receives $50 million for infrastructure projects under this formula, local taxpayers will have to come up with an extra $10 million. And if we borrow to cover the $10 million, the cost goes up by $920,000 per year. This hardly sounds like 'free money' to me."
However, in a story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker said his ban on seeking stimulus projects that required matching dollars was not absolute.
"I didn't say 'never' on match," Walker said.

No comments: