Friday, June 7, 2019

WI GOP dream budget 'plan' has party's full, principle-free penury, pettiness

Props to the Wisconsin GOP-dominated state budget-writing committee for approving a 'transportation' plan that advances key Republican goals.

* Trucking interests had already won through the efforts of GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos an increase in speed limits, and finally they're getting a reduction in annual registration fees. 

It won't be long before Republicans succeed in completely flattening all vehicle fees, just as they did in this 'plan' by applying the same $10-per-car registration fee increase to all vehicles across the board - - so the driver of a Lexus SUV or Grandpa's hand-me-down mid-80's Corolla will all pay the same increase.

Equal treatment. Democracy in action, no?

The best news of all in GOP Land - - a fee is not a tax because, duh, it's spelled differently, so this is a Please-the-Koch Brothers/right-wingers' win-win!

* And Republicans added some measurable, more-money-in-taxpayers'-pockets-through-principled-conservative-cost-cutting in this transportation 'plan' by reducing spending on Lt. Governor Mandala Barnes' security. 

You may remember that his predecessor, Rebecca Kleefisch, made an earlier attempt to resolve the Republicans' Barnes-problem before it became a four-year, full-blown crisis, so now the party of Lincoln is taking a more upfront approach; praise them for their transparency, and frankly for innovative legislating when it comes to defining what should be in a transportation package and managing big-picture priorities.

This isn't the first time in recent years that the GOP used its powers to personally diminish Democratic statewide elected officials. Remember when they took away most of Secretary of State Doug La Follette's authority, then moved his traditional Capitol office into a basement closet setting?

Though tampering with a senior state official's security lowers the bar for partisan ugliness, so give credit where it's due, GOP leaders.

Don't accuse Republicans of any double-standards when they overlooked Walker's spectacularly-expensive spending on security. You have to remember he had mandatory Midwestern motorcycle rides to make, rubber-chicken to eat across the country and burgers to sample on several continents. 

And you have to look at it from their point of view: Republican legislators who served with Barnes when he was in the Assembly from 2013-2017 suffer every time they see him walk through the Capitol knowing he's making 50% more money than they get for their few months of session work yearly. 

That's gotta sting.

(Though if you throw in legislators' tax-free meal, mileage and motel per diem money, plus other pricey perks, like paid-for in-district motoring-around reimbursements and free cell phones, it's pretty much a wash. For example, staff to State GOP Rep. John Nygren, the budget-writing committee's co-chair, attributed their boss' relatively high per-diem payment of more than $10,000 last year to the committee's schedule, so it's all connected.)
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State GOP Rep. and Joint Finance co-chair John Nygren
A further indignity these legislators suffer with Barnes being just a heartbeat away from the Governor's chair: he gets state-paid security while they have to pay for their own concealed handguns, even on Bring Your Pistol to Work Day.

As with the Republican approach to vehicle fees, or enabled groundwater contamination from northeast Wisconsin to the Southwest, all state Republicans want is a level playing field - - however polluted - -  and thank goodness they have the majorities to make that happen.

Actually, make that 'Thank God' for a friendly State Supreme Court majority, should any of these issues like fair transportation spending or adequate drinking water oversight need the Justices' even-handed [Sic] review.

* And speaking of predictability, GOP legislators have in past budgets done little to fix potholes, repair bridges and provide transit for people who do not drive or own cars.

I'm pleased to report that this proposed transportation 'plan' on such matters offers more consistency, or should I say 'certainty'- - state Republicans' policy-making North star - - so add stewardship, stability and special-interest bell-hopping to the GOP's defining message.

1 comment:

Minnesconsin Tom said...

After the election last year when Republicans were going berserk and passing the Lame Duck legislation, I knew it wasn’t Tony Evers they were really afraid of—it was Mandela Barnes. For the first time in state history a black person stands a heartbeat from the governorship. And not just a black person, a black man. And not just a black man, a black man from Milwaukee.

Now the Republicans are complaining because security costs are much higher for Barnes than they were for Rebecca Kleefish? OF COURSE it costs more to protect Barnes. Especially in this era of Trumpian hate, our current lieutenant governor is in danger every time he sets foot in public. Kleefish? Who cared??? Everyone knows that for eight years she was a complete cipher who did absolutely nothing other than stand in the background, smile, and (usually) keep her mouth shut. She was not Walker’s first choice as a running mate, and even he wanted little to do with her.

Governor Evers, if it is at all in your powers to nix this decreased-security thing, please do it. I’m really looking forward to Mandela following in your footsteps some day!