Wednesday, August 31, 2016
* Federally-ordered statewide compliance with the US Clean Water Act. This is a big deal, as the US Environmental Protection Agency told the Walker administration in writing five years ago that it was failing to enforce clean water standards in 75 issue areas.
The EPA referred to "numerous apparent omissions and deviations between Wisconsin’s current statute and [Clean Water Act] requirements.”
After years of foot-dragging - - I called it "Delay and Conquer" more than four years ago - - especially when it came to keeping toxins out of residential wells near the big feedlots which Walker, the DNR, the GOP-run Legislature and the Attorney General have all intentionally de-regulated - - the EPA hammer os coming down "imminenty' because of the great work by public interest attorneys at Midwest Environmental Advocates.
That's the non-profit law firm hired by aggrieved Wisconsin citizens paying have the public safety job done correctly which Walker, the GOP-led legislature and Attorney General Brad Schimel have together disregarded for partisan, political reasons.
* Decision-making on the high-end golf course which Kohler Company wants to build in a Lake Michigan shoreline nature preserve filled with rare wetlands and dunes, Native American artifacts, wildlife and thousands of trees.
As with some of the groundwater-depleting and runoff polluting feedlot expansions and other high-profile land transactions, a major Walker donor is involved and fair environmental procedures waived, as the DNR has proceeded with golf course project reviews in a taxpayer-paid smoothing process without a formal permit application in hand which the company would have to formally defend.
At some point, the DNR is going to have to decide whether to ask for that permit application: with DNR officials also on record saying they may allow some project permits to be written by the applicant and not by the agency - - the ultimate regulatory capitulation to donors and polluters - - I could imagine Kohler eventually being allowed to write the final permit itself, since the DNR has already goosed the preliminaries along in the company's favor.
* Decision-making on the precedent-setting 26,000-hog Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operation, (CAFO), complete with nine football field-size manure storage containers and spreading operations set on several nearby farm fields, which an Iowa pork producer wants to locate close to scenic Lake Superior Chequamegon Bay.
In this case, the company has filed a permit application, but time has gone by and the DNR has yet to complete and release an Environmental Impact Statement. Word is that the company has not sent the agency enough information to date; in any case, delay keeps the issue away from the November elections in a state where water rights and Walker administration favoritism to big business is finally breaking through.
* Ditto for the stalled, so-called realignment of the DNR - - the latest iteration in redefining and downsizing the staff-and-budget-starved agency away from its historical mission.
The realignment - - and what a great, bureaucratic word: I wonder why AG Schimel didn't use it when it would have been so apropos - - was supposed to be announced in early August as employees were waiting to find out if their jobs or sections were to be eliminated, watered-down, or transferred to Walker administration Gulag outposts miles away to the edge of Madison in the similarly corporatized Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, or to a partisan redoubt in the Department of Administration, or to a far-flung DNR office up North (sorry if you need to sell your house, take the kids out of their school, but you're free to commute round-trip 400 miles...).
We'll know more when Walker announces his 2017-'19 budget - - with an eye on
Walker, 2018 - - and if the past is any indication, the DNR will continue to lose money, staff, prestige and relevance, while the public loses Stewardship land access, and the use of state parks now stripped of state support (corporate naming rights are on the table: Goody!)
Though the real thing to keep an eye on is Walker, 2020, and maybe we're seeing the succession plan unfolding.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:47 PM
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
As I have explained many times on this blog, Wisconsin is the only state which allows bear hunters to 'train' their dogs by running them off-leash, regardless if they are being 'trained' in known wolf activity areas where bear bait attract predatory wolves bigger than the dogs.
Wisconsin is also the only state to operate the reimbursement program which hounders can access, even if they are out of staters, are repeat collectors, or are documented scofflaws.
Hounds can also be 'trained' against captive, caged animals, including bears. Read the details.
The 2016 killed hunting dog total is 26, with bear hound training set to end Aug. 31.
Take a look at the maps and the most recent one where these dogs have been killed
|1 dog killed (Black and Tan, male, 6 years)||Bayfield depredation location map|
Posted by James Rowen at 4:44 PM
In his last budget, Walker proposed freezing for thirteen years all state land conversation purchases through a DNR-managed borrowing program, ended all state spending for state parks, and axed a swath of DNR science staffers to further his pro-commerce, pollution-enabling deregulation of the state's land, air and water.
While the Legislature restored some of the land purchase borrowing, I'd expect more cuts to the DNR, and perhaps more movement towards selling park naming rights, or even park land itself to fulfill Walker's purported love for small government.Enter yet another player with a reputation of opening State Capitol doors to favored insiders: Joel Kleefisch - - Oconomowoc GOP Assemblyman and spouse to GOP Lt. Gov. and Scott Walker-replacement-in waiting Rebecca Kleefisch.
Joel Kleefisch is the quintessential GOP/Tea Party hypocrite who rants about smaller government while holding down a government-paid job complete with taxpayer-paid, tax-free meal and mileage per diem accounts, and whose wife has an even bigger taxpayer-paid job, too.
Joel Kleefisch is quoted in an August 5th story in the Wisconsin Outdoor News about his telling a July conference he hoped State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos would name him the replacement after the November elections for outgoing Assemblyman All Ott, (R-Forest Junction), to chair the Assembly Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Committee.
That would give outdoors' enthusiast Joel Kleefisch greater authority over everything from hunting seasons - - he was the legislator who drove the now-suspended and especially-cruel, dog-assisted wolf hunt, is a big fan of the DNR's efforts to import elk for a herd big enough for a hunt someday, and who also really, really wanted to hunt what he called 'ribeye-in-the-skies' sandhill cranes - - to broader issues, like mining, shoreline development, public land sales, groundwater deregulation, and other 'resource' areas where private sector special interests have already won legislative or administrative concessions from Walker, his 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR and the Legislature.
Also important about the published report - - I'm hoping to get a link for readers - - is what Joel Kleefisch had said about recent cuts to DNR science staffing - - which he defended as as basic legislative decision-making - - and possible further cuts to Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund land purchasing.
On the one hand, Joel Kleefisch said scientific knowledge is needed - - so, yea, for that bit of common sense, though he also admitted "he doesn't have the science on CWD", so anyone else see the contradiction there?
He also said the next Walker budget might actually have an increase in science staff funding - - so, again, yea, for that - - but Kleefisch also said such an increase "may come at a cost to programs, such as stewardship," so boo to a signal that special interests who want to push development into land which could be saved for public purposes like access and storm water runoff and wooded-and-wetland hunting and fishing reserves still have Walker's budgetary ear.
Truth is that Walker and the Legislature should not have cut DNR science staffing and reduced Stewardship funding, and degraded DNR environmental responsibilities by folding them into an ideologically-managed business services division, especially given all the feedlot groundwater pollution controls and other public health water orders coming our way because of public pressure and "imminent" US EPA directives to fix five years of Walker's bobbing and weaving.
Kleefisch also said in the story that he intends to serve two more terms in the Legislature and then re-enter the private sector (he's a former television station reporter).
Maybe in four years, Rebecca Kleefisch will be Governor. Maybe that's the plan?
Regardless, the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Natural Resources has got to be seen as more than a legislative preserve for special interest water carriers like Joel Kleefisch - - since all the resources of the state, including its wildlife belong to all the people - - but I have little faith that Robin Vos can see that forest for the trees.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:29 PM
Monday, August 29, 2016
No other state allows this cruel, off-leash bear hound 'training,' or pays hounders up to $2,500 per dog lost to this cruel, species'-conflict 'sport,' even to hounders from out-of-state, or to repeat payment collectors, or even to scofflaws, thanks to the bear hunting and other gun lobbies which have the Governor and Legislature in their organizational back pockets.'
Mercifully the 'training season' ends Aug. 31, but the bear hunt begins a few days later, with packs of hounds being run through these wolf rendezvous areas to corner and tree bears, so there will be even more conflict between hounds and wolves, and hounds and bears, with the likely bear toll by the end of the season at or above 3,000 'harvested,' as the DNR and hunters prefer to call it.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:44 PM
The DNR, as Walker shrinks its mission and reputation, is eager to fulfill a legislatively-(wink-wink)-mandated sale of 10,000 acres of state property and has sent out an email again touting some sweet parcels it's put up for auction:
Here's one example, followed by a web link to the current crop of deals:
27.2 +/- Acre Parcel near Elk Mound, WI w/Trout Stream Easement
- Address: County Rd H, Elk Mound, WI 54739
- Property Details: Creek 17-11 flows through this parcel and is a high quality, coldwater, Class I trout stream that contains healthy populations of brook and brown trout. It is an important coldwater tributary for Elk Creek, which has an exceptional trout fishery and a high amount of angler use. An easement requirement that extends 66 feet from each streambank and spans the entire length of the stream on this property will provide adequate protection for this important resource. The property has approximately 5,296 feet of two-bank frontage on a tributary of Elk Creek called Crk 17-11, a class one trout stream. Much of the property is wetland and not wooded. There is a possible encroachment of an agricultural field on the property to the southwest. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reserves mineral rights pursuant to the provsions of Wisconsin State Statutes 24.11.
|#16612-70 - State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natural Resources - Surplus Land Auction |
Ends: September 15, 2016 Starting at 10am Central (5 Min. Staggered Ending)
Posted by James Rowen at 11:43 AM
Maybe Walker can send long-time friend and veterans' expert Tim Russell to King to straighten it all out.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:21 AM
Sunday, August 28, 2016
* A summary post about the many intentional state and regional financial, policy and legal decisions over decades which kept the City of Milwaukee land-locked and its predominantly-minority residents segregated by race and income from regional housing, business development, job opportunities and transit in the wealthier, whiter surrounding suburban counties;
* A followup post focusing on then-Milwaukee County Executive and now Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's long disinterest in Milwaukee employment and hostility to the city and Milwaukee County's transit deficits and solutions.
Then a blog reader reminder me of a post I'd written in February, 2007 about Walker and transit.
I was grateful for the reminder, as I sometimes forget what I've posted here - - there are more than 17,000 posts just since June, 2010, when Google began keeping score - - but shame on me for not going back further in the archives to find something relevant.
And relevant to more than the discriminatory disconnects and disregards and damage done to Milwaukee through public policy choices and spending that marginalize the state's biggest city.
The story told in the posting sheds more light on the mindset - - a term used advisedly, and generously - - of Scott Walker which he'd tipped us to nearly ten years ago, and a good three years before he was elected Governor.
A Governor who is willing to starve state transit, borrow to the hilt, ram through, despite denials and double-talk even more highway expansion on the west side where residents don't want it and please the road-builders with a blank check because he told us in 2007 he wants everyone in Milwaukee to own and drive a car.
Even though before the Great Recession deepened, data showed that 23% of City of Milwaukee households were without access to a vehicle.
As ludicrous is the poor en masse magically getting flush enough to buy cars - - does Walker - - he with the private transit taxpayers r\give him 24/7 since January, 2011 via state-paid cars, drivers, airplanes, pilots - - see the contradiction and his cause-and-effect responsibilities as he keeps the minimum wage frozen at a poverty-enforcing $7.25/hr? - - given the upfront purchase, licensing and registration costs to owners, plus operating and maintenance expenses, the greatly expanded car ownership Walker fantasizes about does underscore his hostility to transit and 'justify' the added highway expansion he supports that would reward his road-building pals.
Talk about a win-win for ideologically-blinded free marketers.
So if you still need a "Eureka Moment" to grasp who Walker is and to explain, shall we say, his 'philosophy' - - if his audible dog whistles about the poor, or his warning to upper-income exurban Waukesha County exurbanites about letting Wisconsin 'become another Milwaukee,' or his presence at a secretive and under-reported right-wing summit anointing him for leadership didn't already supply that nugget you needed to grasp who Walker really is, I give you the 2/24/2007 posting, in full below (and if I can get a link to the Journal Sentinel roundtable cited, I will pass that on, too):
Case in point: Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who trashed Mayor Tom Barrett's recently-announced bus-and-trolley transit improvement proposal.
In a County with a declining transit system organized around outmoded buses, why would the County Exec. dump on a plan that would benefit the system and the county, too?
Here's what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Walker told the paper's editorial writers Tuesday about why he opposed transit improvements in the county he purportedly leads:
"...Walker said he would like to grow the local economy enough so lower-income people don't have to rely on transit and could instead afford to buy cars if they chose."
As a friend quipped to me Friday night, right - - so they can drive their cars to jobs in Waukesha?
Walker even invoked the ghost of light rail, killed in Milwaukee by talk radio and the Thompson administration nearly a decade ago, to demagogue against Barrett's proposal - - which is not a light rail plan.
I know Walker knows the difference, but when have the facts ever driven the local debate about transit?
In Milwaukee County politics, talk radio sets the agenda, then Walker, knowing his lines, reacts with rigidity, fantasy and spin.
There's a slogan you can write down and put on your refrigerator [echoing Walker's 2002 campaign mantra].
Posted by James Rowen at 1:14 PM
Saturday, August 27, 2016
I also wrote several posts - - one summary, here - - pointing out that Walker has long been a champion of spending more than $6 billion on the freeway system in the Milwaukee area which keeps the region heavily segregated by race and income by routinely omitting transit upgrades that could help Milwaukee workers in a city land-locked by state law connect with jobs and other opportunities in the suburbs.
I also want to remind readers of Walker's disinterest in and outright hostility to Milwaukee job creation when he was a GOP state legislator representing suburban Wauwatosa and, later, as Milwaukee County Executive:
* From his legislative perch, Walker sided with other suburban politicians and killed and helped kill a light rail system in Milwaukee that would have provided construction work, plus housing and business development at stations and along the rail corridors - - a job-creating phenomenon which has occurred in other cities when light rail was built and expanded.
In 2008, I wrote:
Years ago, Walker promised his handlers on local right-wing talk radio programs that he would stand rigid with them against rail - - in an anti-urban stance that earned him the nickname "Scott Waukesha."
Walker told The Milwaukee Journal in a 1999 story that it would be OK with him if multiple, major transportation projects in a package that might include Milwaukee rail had to die together to keep light rail from being built...
That transportation package did not produce urban rail of any kind, thanks to the stonewalling by Walker and his talk radio lieutenants - - but did lead to the rebuilding of the Sixth St. Bridge, the removal of the Park East Freeway spur, the construction of the Lakeshore State Park just off the Summerfest grounds, and the provision of seed money that jump-started the Marquette Interchange project.
Here is the story [the link is now dead, but the quote is accurate] and the key quote is:
"Building a limited light rail system could cost as much as $180 million. Diehard light-rail opponents, such as Waukesha County Executive Daniel Finley and state Rep. Scott Walker (R-Wauwatosa), immediately objected to spending any of the money on a rail transit system. Walker said he would be willing to sacrifice everything else in the package to stop light rail, because he fears the system would be expanded at taxpayers' expense."* The County had an economic development office into which Walker inserted Tim Russell, a long-time campaign gofer and and county staff aide, as the $83,000-a-year assistant manager.
Walker tried to get the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to appoint Russell as the top economic development office administrator, but supervisors balked, so Walker created yet another job for Russell - - managing, against county ethics officials' advice - - a non-profit veterans organization embedded into county government.
Russell later pleaded guilty to stealing from that organization and went to jail in the so-called John Doe I prosecution which used evidence seized from a secret email system Russell helped to install in Walker's county executive office suite.
See this outstanding summary by David Umhoefer, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter.
* When asked twice during a 2010 gubernatorial debate with challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Barrett, Walker could not name a single job he had created in Milwaukee's central city.
Obviously, it was not his priority. Getting elected Governor was.
But ad the question been asked a little more broadly, Walker could have answered:
I did find work for Tim Russell.
Posted by James Rowen at 2:21 PM
Friday, August 26, 2016
* $4.5 million is a real, beneficial sum of money, if leveraged and invested strategically, and I am confident that all the officials and groups involved will do just that.
But here's how a local expert suggested looking at that sum of money: $4.5 million is a lot less than the value and multiplier impact of millions and millions of dollars in expanded Amtrak operations statewide, in good-paying Milwaukee-based, long-term train set assembly and maintenance jobs,
|Assembled in Milwaukee's low-income, jobs-hungry 30th St. corridor, banned in Wisconsin, shipped to the Northwest, with future train business and expansion in Milwaukee and statewide barred by Scott Walker|
in several years of rail, train bridge and station construction or upgrades across the state, in future Midwest High-Speed Rail contracts. and in spinoff blue-and-white-collar consulting, supplier and technical work that were all lost to job-deprived Milwaukee neighborhoods when Walker intentionally cancelled the Talgo operation, and with it, a budding state train industry - - just for ideological, partisan and Walker's personal, political agendas.
For goodness sake, $4.5 million is less than half of what the state had to pay Talgo just for breaking an initial, two-train set assembly contract - - and Talgo got to keep the trains!
On which the state spent $50 million.
* Walker would have looked more sincere today had he simply come to the city and said, 'Milwaukee is part of the state, and the state is glad to be doing the right thing for the people in our largest city,' instead of setting up future political ads in which he could book-end tough-guy images of his National Guard activation of a couple of weeks ago with the condescending language right off his official Governor's webpage today that looks especially ironic in light of his Talgo/Amtrak factory and employment cancellation in Milwaukee, and the failure of his 250,000 new jobs campaign pledge now overdue by more than 18 months:
"This is all about helping people move from government dependence to true independence through the dignity that comes from work.”As if Talgo assembly, maintenance and Amtrak construction and operations workers - - and people across the city and state engaged in productive and useful work already - - needed that reminder.
* Sidebar: Powerful language about the regions segregation that appeared in the Journal Sentinel's hard-copy edition today about Walker's grant, and which was also intact in early online editions has been edited out by this afternoon as the story developed today, but I had copied it into an earlier post today, and have placed them on my blog's face page, left margin, because the wording was spot-on truthful and worth memorializing.
Here it is, again:
"Milwaukee and its suburbs are one of the most segregated areas in the nation, and the inner city has been devastated by the effects of lost manufacturing jobs and high rates of unemployment and incarceration…
"[GOP WI Gov. Scott] Walker, a longtime former resident of Wauwatosa, has related better to the conservative suburbs of Milwaukee than to its liberal urban core, first as county executive and then as governor."
- - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 8/26/16
Posted by James Rowen at 3:45 PM
Said the Journal Sentinel:
Milwaukee and its suburbs are one of the most segregated areas in the nation, and the inner city has been devastated by the effects of lost manufacturing jobs and high rates of unemployment and incarceration…
Walker, a longtime former resident of Wauwatosa, has related better to the conservative suburbs of Milwaukee than to its liberal urban core, first as county executive and then as governor.I have long felt that descriptions of Milwaukee as 'the most segregated city in America' missed the fundamental reality that the Journal Sentinel story makes clear: it is the region that is segregated; wealth creation in that region is regularly sparked by politicians and power brokers more interested in diverting public resources to suburban highway expansion
and job growth than in equitable development, public transportation and equal opportunity in Milwaukee and its heavily-minority, lower-income central city.
My point has long been this:
I reiterated that perspective in a series of blog posts in the wake of the Sherman Park troubles; an example, here:
On Monday I posted some lesser known facts and history about race, economic justice and inequitable use of regional and state governmental power that have kept the City of Milwaukee poorer than its wealthier and whiter neighbors for more than 50 years.
* I added a link to the most recent budget of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - - the seven-county, state-created agency located in Western Waukesha County that makes recommendations for the region in such crucial development-related areas as land use, transportation, water distribution and others - - but on which the City of Milwaukee has no designated seat, no authority to name a commissioner and thus relatively less influence on commission spending and policy-making than its whiter, more affluent, more suburban and still-rural neighbors.
The six other counties outside of Milwaukee all have three commission seats, fewer minority residents and residents total than both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County - - yet while Milwaukee County with most of its residents living in the minority-majority city pays the largest annual share of the agency's budget...
Media and others interpreting civil unrest in Milwaukee might want to dig deeper into a few issues:
* Cities are creatures of the state in Wisconsin, and during the Scott Walker era, Milwaukee has lost state-supplied revenue - - the program dates back decades as a substitute for local income tax collections - - and also lost the ability to expand its budget above state-mandated limits.The more accurate information we can get about the issues which confront us, the better are the chances of making progress on solutions.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:04 PM
Thursday, August 25, 2016
A couple of self-interested, serial flip-floppers. The photo speaks for itself.
Posted by James Rowen at 6:31 PM
one was a Walker mix and three additional Walkers were injured by wolves, according to data and maps posted online by the Wisconsin DNR.
Note also that hound owners in Wisconsin are eligible for a $2,500 per killed hound - - details about the payments and other licensed hunting/training methods which have cruelty written all over them, here - - even if the hound died in a known wolf activity area which the DNR posts for all to see.
Take a look at just one in a long list of maps the DNR has posted this year which show the location wolf-hound encounters which have led to eight dead hounds during bear hunt training this month in Bayfield County alone...
|8/13/2016||Bayfield||2 dogs killed (Black and tan, female, 2.5 years; Bluetick, female, 2.5 years)||Bayfield depredation location map|
The bear hunting season begins September 7th and ends October 11th, preceded by the training/running periods.
Wisconsin ranks at or near the top in the number of bears killed in what the DNR and bear hunting lobbies call "a quality" experience - - though hardly for bears, wolves, dogs, other Wisconsin wildlife which is all owed by the public, by the way, and people's peace of mind in the north woods.
One organization, Wolves of Wisconsin Douglas County, is pursuing a legislative ban on bear hounding. Details,here:
The sport of bear hounding is not part of “fair chase” used in ethical hunting practices.
That’s why; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is beginning a campaign to legislatively end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin.
When this sport of pursing bear with dogs began in 1963 there were no wolves present in Wisconsin. Conflicts arise between bear hunters and wolves because bear hunters run dogs through rendezvous sites where wolves keep pups. Bear hunters are reimbursed $2,500.00 per dead dog killed by wolves forced to defend their pups from free ranging dogs in pursuit of bear.Consult this 2015 post on The Political Environment for additional details about the situation in Wisconsin, including:
Various DNR webpages reference the "thrill" of bear hunting or its "quality experience," and the agency's large carnivore expert told the Wisconsin Bear Hunter's Association in a pre-hunting season missive that the state provides a "high quality bear hunting experience."
For an adult, the license costs $49.
Speaking of bear hunting and dogs, another DNR webpage discloses that in the last few weeks, nine dogs training against bears have been killed by wolves; under a program unique to Wisconsin, the DNR will reimburse each hunter up to $2,500 per wolf-depredated dog.
Payments may go to repeat claimants, and scofflaws; by January, 2014, the amount paid out for bear hunting dogs lost to wolves was nearing $400,000, a comprehensive report had shown.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:44 PM
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Wisconsin ACT scores drop below national averageThink Walker will take that fresh PR mugging, plus his big jobs promise fail, and our wrong-direction plunging pothole index on his 2020 Presidential tour, with stops upcoming in MD and VA?
Posted by James Rowen at 2:17 PM
Twenty hounds have been killed since July 5th.
Hounds may also be legally 'trained' against bears in cages, with bears permitted in the training cages for up to 12 hours in a 24-hour period.
Hounds may also be 'trained' against captive animals smaller than bears in so-called roll cages.
These cages are permitted in so-called Dog Training Clubs, which the state licenses.
Read the rules. It's your state, too.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:12 PM
But it's a gift to state and national reporters who seem to have forgotten about Walker's secret email system on public property and time which made it easier to cheat in the 2010 election and harder for his opposition to win.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:41 AM
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
That's because after two federal courtroom defeats, the Wisconsin Republican establishment through the afore-mentioned Brad Schimel
And if early voting in your town is not on the agenda, get on the phone with your elected officials or show up at their offices and get it implemented.
Posted by James Rowen at 7:59 PM
He's botched both by championing - - without the needed funding in hand - - a seven-county multi-billion dollar SE WI not-so-free freeway expansion and reconstruction plan while also starving local transit systems and pothole repair financing - - all the while refusing through an embrace of Tea Party orthodoxy to boost transportation budgets with either an increase in the gasoline tax or vehicle or driver license fees.
But his road-builder campaign donors want the big projects fully built, as do Walker's GOP legislative cronies, so what's a politically-ambitious right-wing Governor to do and fix a billion-dollar mess of his own making?
Well, look to his history as Walker gets ready to launch his 2017-'19 state budget, which will also be the state budget upon which he runs for re-election as Governor or the budget preceding another ineffectual run for President in 2020 -- or both:
* Walker will cobble together some funding through cuts in non-transportation areas and transfer that money to big highway projects.
His initial cut to the UW system, in the last budget was $300 million, reduced $50 million by the legislature. Don't be surprised if he goes after the UW, again.
* In his first budget, Walker ended state-financed recycling. The Legislature restored part of it.
In his last budget, Walker proposed freezing for thirteen years all state land conversation purchases through a DNR-managed borrowing program, ended all state spending for state parks, and axed a swath of DNR science staffers to further his pro-commerce, pollution-enabling deregulation of the state's land, air and water.
While the Legislature restored some of the land purchase borrowing, I'd expect more cuts to the DNR, and perhaps more movement towards selling park naming rights, or even park land itself to fulfill Walker's purported love for small government.
Except when it comes to the Lake Mendota mansion he lives in, the drivers and pilots he enjoys, nice benefits, unlimited time off to campaign nationally with state-paid security and a $12,000-per-month salary.
* Walker has slashed K-12 education, declined $550 million in federal funding to expand Medicaid, raised taxes on the poor to fund a tax cut for higher earners, booted tens of thousands of Wisconsinites off food aid, - - here and here - - cancelled Planned Parenthood contracts and followed an ideologically anti-urban path - - take it from the city's leading history, John Gurda - - that has harmed Milwaukee, the state's biggest city where most of the state's poor people live.
So I would expect him to target social service programming and what is left of the safety net in the state as a piggy bank to raid for highway spending that principally serves the wealthier, whiter Milwaukee-area suburbs which provide Walker with his electoral base.
And just as he has transferred the responsibility for budgeting fairness and decision-making responsibilities to the Legislature, where some of his more Draconian proposals have been moderated - - the UW cut, the recycling and land acquisition abolitions - - Walker could make large trims to state shared revenue - - where funds are returned to municipalities and local governments in exchange for a prohibition on local income taxes - - and let mayors and city councils and county supervisors and school boards figure out how to provide the services Walker and his Legislature could punted their way.
Update, 12:39 p.m. Veteran state government watcher Steve Walters predicts Walker will fund some road-building and repairs with a tax shift that trades vehicle fees or more pennies at the gas pump for a massive new tax cut for business.
Problem is: another loss in revenue to local governments because of the way the tax Walker wants to end is distributed.
More of that you-know-what rolling downhill, an old state budgeting screw-em trick.
The bottom line is that Walker needs to serve his road-builder and business donors who are demanding bigger and better roads, while at the same time Walker needs to firm up his conservative credentials with one, possible two elections on his Ronald Reagan impersonation itinerary.
For Wisconsin residents, that means a budget balanced on the backs of low-income citizens who have the least clout to resist it.
And if some Democratic cities and Mayors and University towns feel the heat, a Walker-GOP-and-suburban win-win-win.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:01 AM