Monday, August 3, 2015

After approving WI budget cuts comes GOP brain drain fretting

[Updated] It's been a zany political summer - - Donald Trump is leading in GOP presidential polling and Scott Walker is running second or third despite a secret email system - - the "dark side," Team Walker's phrase - - and relatively little state-inspired job growth  - - but along comes an op-ed in the Monday Journal Sentinel which suggest deep political sunstroke across Walker's home base.

The op-ed author is Duey Stroebel, a Walkerite GOP State Senator from Saukville; to combat the state's acknowledged brain drain, Stroebel is pitching a higher education aid program "to retain the state's best and brightest..." 

Well, great - - who would be against that?.

But let's remember that Wisconsin Republicans will not take up student debt relief, and Walker used his veto without complaint from his party to kill an existing higher education aid plan - - The Wisconsin Covenant.

But The Wisconsin Covenant had to go - - just like everything from climate change actions and renewable energy goals proposed by former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to the Amtrak extension, rail construction and train assembly jobs for which he'd won federal funding because a top GOP goal since Walker's 2011 win is to strip away any possible Doyle legacy.

The FOX TV affiliate in Green Bay put it this way in February:
The Wisconsin Covenant was created eight years ago, when then-Governor Jim Doyle proposed a new program to help more kids get into college and to help those kids pay for it...
The promise was simple: 8th graders signed a pledge promising to keep a "B" average through high school, do 30 hours of community service and stay out of trouble. In return, the state would guarantee those kids a spot in a Wisconsin college and some level of financial aid... 
Today, there's not much left. On the 9th floor of an office building near the State Capitol, you'll find the one man responsible for keeping the state's promise: Garth Beyer. 
FOX 11 Investigates sat down with Beyer and his boss, John Reinemann...
When asked why the program is being phased out, Reinemann replied, "Well, Governor Walker, in his veto message in his 2011 budget, indicated that he was trying to economize on state spending. He wanted to prioritize resources to programs that were effective."
But let's take a look at the bigger picture that is making Wisconsin less appealing to students, young workers and families.

Stroebel has been a reflexive backer of conservative GOP policies, and Walker, beginning with Act 10 that stripped away the career appeal and middle-class stability of many public sector professions, including teaching, which has helped keep college graduates in Wisconsin.

In fact, Stroebel returned to the Legislature after a brief absence due to a failed run for Congress and pledged loyalty to whatever Walker wanted:

Stroebel said he would seek to advance the policies of Gov. Scott Walker such as tax cuts and public funding of private voucher schools. 
"We must make Wisconsin's tax climate more competitive, eliminate the statewide cap on school choice, continue reforms to welfare eligibility, (and) fight back against the destructive elements of Obamacare," Stroebel said in a statement.... 
Stroebel said he would also seek to overhaul the state's elections agency, the Government Accountability Board, oppose the Common Core academic standards and champion what is known as right-to-work legislation, which prohibits workers from being required to pay union dues.
True to his word, Stroebel favored Walker's full, $300 million cut to the UW budget - - a reduction so Draconian and damaging to university towns that his party later rolled back by $50 million.

The Walker budget for which Stroebel voted (only one of Stroebel's GOP Senate colleagues, Rob Cowles, bucked Walker and voted "no) also:

* Ended UW faculty tenure as it had been traditionally known - - a disincentive for younger faculty to remain in graduate schools here, or to be recruited or to remain in Wisconsin.

* Boosted highway spending while disregarding transit, and even ended a program requiring that new state road projects include sidewalks or bike paths, though there is plenty of evidence around that young people want access to alternatives to cars they cannot afford or choose not to drive.

* Created a new brain drain through ideologically-targeted layoffs among Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources scientists, and even raised state park admission and camping fees while reducing the acreage Wisconsin could purchase for conservation and recreation.

* Defined the mandated state hourly minimum wage of $7.25 which Walker refuses to raise as a "living wage," providing no real safety net for young people working one or two minimum-wage positions - - or are between jobs, or not yet in the job for which they have trained - - while many other states and cities offer higher, more attractive and humane minimums.

Note how far below a true hourly living wage is $7.25 in Wisconsin, data show. 

How many negative messages for young people and families and their future in Wisconsin could one document contain?

Stroebel has also lined up with the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce to back the repeal of a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources air pollution rule and supported limitations on early voting hours, as his right-wing and partisan record indicates.

One tweaking of a scholarship program, while a nice idea, will do little to stem a brain drain for which Stroebel and his party bear much responsibility.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dueeeeey shows in his proposal just how clueless and out of touch the Wisconsin Rethuglican Party is as they march Wisconsin into the ashcan of history. Young people are fleeing the exact policies that Dueeeey and his kind in Wisconsin have rammed down our throats.

Many of those commenting after the original article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are parents of successful college graduates, all of whom have fled Wisconsin to begin their lives and careers in other states. I am an Advanced Placement science teacher. Due to the acrimony and hatred that Walker's Wisconsin has become, I have seen a complete shift in the college plans of the future engineers, physicians, various health care professional majors, etc... that are taking my course.

Five years ago, probably 90% of the seniors taking my AP science course planned to attend UW Madison and come back home after graduation. This year, over 70% of the seniors will be attending college out of state-many are being recruited by Minnesota and Ohio State. Most hope to NEVER return to Wisconsin again; except at Thanksgiving and Christmas to visit their parents.

These young people have been living the damage Walker and his Rethuglican allies caused to public education; huge class sizes, cancelled classes, less special help and don't want to raise their own families in such a hateful, backward, anti-education and anti-worker environment that Dueeeeey and Scott Walker have made Wisconsin into. Glad to see these kids leave the state; when I retire I will also be leaving the state to join many of them in Minnesota. I will enjoy leaving the ruins of Wisconsin in the hands of the majority of voters who continue to elect clowns like Dueeeeey and Scott Walker.