Walker’s agenda sinks Wisconsin economy, while Dayton’s Minnesota rebounds


By Amanda Litvinov

Minnesota and Wisconsin, nestled together in the middle of the country, are often thought of as sister states. But for all their similarities in climate and demographics and culture, the two states diverged in 2010 when they elected governors who are mirror opposites in economic priorities and policies.

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Where extremist Gov. Walker has battered Wisconsin workers’ rights and mocked the idea of raising the minimum wage, Gov. Dayton has helped labor grow and was outspoken on the need for fair wages. He signed a bill this month that will raise Minnesota’s minimum wage from $6.15 an hour to $9.50 by 2016.

Their tax policies, too, have not only directly affected students and educators, but also had great impact on their states’ fiscal standing.

WI economic forecast
Economists expect Wisconsin’s economy to continue to lag behind.

Gov. Dayton stayed true to his campaign promise to ask everyone to in Minnesota to pay their fair share in taxes–including rich corporations and CEOs. It doesn’t appear to have deterred businesses operations there; a recent analysis shows Minnesota is among the top five fastest growing state economies and private-sector job creation exceeds pre-recession levels.

After committing half of the resulting revenue to balancing the budget (as required by the state constitution) Dayton and allies invested nearly three-quarters of the remaining funds in public education, with a focus on all-day kindergarten and expanding access to early childhood education.

Wisconsin students and families, meanwhile, have suffered.

Upon taking office, Gov. Walker touted himself as a job creator, and even promised to add 250,000 jobs to Wisconsin’s economy with his “business friendly policies.” Turns out, giving corporations millions in tax handouts doesn’t inspire them to hire people–Wisconsin has plummeted to 42nd in the nation in job creation.

Walker & Co. offset their sweeping tax cuts and a  $300 million funding increase to an unaccountable, private school voucher scheme by cutting $1.6 billion from public education, the largest cuts to education spending in Wisconsin history.

“I never thought in a million years that Wisconsin would attack the educators and children,” said elementary school teacher Diane Prefontaine of Green Bay.

“But Scott Walker is just a puppet for the millionaire and billionaire groups who want to give themselves and their wealthy friends more breaks and force school systems to have voucher programs that will drain funding from the public schools that teach ALL children, not just the privileged.”

Govs. Walker and Dayton both face re-election this year. Voters in 34 other states will also cast ballots in governors’ races.

“Don’t follow in the footsteps of the current leadership in Wisconsin,” said educator Prefontaine. “We need to invest in our schools, not take more away.”


Reader Comments

  1. I’m not very concerned about working families. My concern is for all those who can’t work, due to health or circumstances, and those for whom there are no jobs. The US shipped out a huge number of working class jobs since the 1980s, and then wiped out welfare in the 1990s. Millions are a single job loss from losing everything, with no way back up. Families are torn apart. You can’t get a job once you no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare. The more people in poverty, the fewer the consumer purchases, the fewer workers are needed to produce those consumer goods, the more poverty grows.

  2. I am an economist and educator. I’m convinced that Governor Walker’s approach to cutting the budget is the way to get businesses hiring and investing in growth again. This illogical class warfare agenda that the left and people who don’t understand economics expouse do not hold water. If you tax corporations they pass on the tax expense in the price of their products and services. Their employees are the key to true tax revenue. As employment increases tax revenues increase. Expensive government run programs steal capital available to business and actually slow business investment down. Expensive, uncertain programs, such as Obamacare, drive up business expenses and make businesses unwilling to hire because they can’t accurately predict their future costs per employee.
    As far as Education Funding goes, I’m a strong believer in a well-funded PUBLIC EDUCATION system as the great equalizor for our democratic republic. Our State and Local communities should be willing to spend whatever is necessary to fund a STATE OF THE ART PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM NO MATTER WHAT IT COSTS. THIS MUST (ABSOLUTELY MUST) BE PUT IN PLACE AS “THE GREAT EQUALIZOR” to create a public school system that will enable the poorest family and the richest family to attend PUBLIC SCHOOLS that will generally give every child an equal opportunity to a quality education. Horace Mann saw this need in the 1800’s and it makes no sense to go back to a failed system as was in place in those “bad old days”. I’m am for competition and as little government as possible except with the “GREAT EQUALIZOR’, A STATE OF THE ART PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM WITH NO EXPENSE BARRED!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks, Ron Brayman

    1. Dear “educator,” the word is “espouse,” not “expouse.” You are calling for the very agenda that got America in this mess. Massive corporate tax cuts/hand-outs since Reagan have largely been used to build factories and offices outside the US, shipping out our jobs, gravely damaging the US economy. This is additionally tragic as the budget is drained out by extreme military expenditures. Our own history contradicts your economic theory. The US reached its height of wealth and productivity from FDR until Reagan, precisely as a result of our policies and programs: Much higher taxes on corporations resulted in a huge expansion of family-supporting manufacturing jobs while poverty relief enabled people to get back on the ladder out of poverty (note: Over 80% of welfare recipients used aid short-term, getting back on their feet.) Years of corp. tax cuts/hand-outs have seen jobs disappear. The more people in poverty, the fewer consumer purchases are made, the fewer workers are needed to produce those goods, the more poverty grows.

    2. Ron, You are not making any sense. If Governor Walker’s approach to cutting the budget is the way to get businesses hiring and investing in growth again–if Walker’s policies are so good for Wisconsin–why has he not created the 250,000 jobs he said he would? Why is Wisconsin now 42nd in the country in job creation? Walker offset the millions he gave away in tax cuts by cutting $1.6 BILLION from public education. How does this help the children and families of Wisconsin? Scott Walker is not working for the people of Wisconsin–he is just a puppet for the Koch Brothers and other wealthy donors–who would like to see their puppet in the White House to give them more tax breaks and handouts for the wealthy.

    3. I wouldn’t take economics lessons from someone who thinks income taxes are passed on to consumers by businesses. Income is calculated on profit, which means costs and revenue have already been calculated. It is logically impossible to pass on a tax to consumers if the tax itself is partly based on what consumers are charged. If you charge consumers more your profit and taxes go up or your profit and taxes go down, but in neither case do you make more profit and reduce your tax.

    4. An unfortunate viewpoint that ignores the facts presented like most who vote against the interest of public education and their own interests. Economically speaking, if you are given a 10% return on the money you currently have with no risk one year and then another 10% the next year on the same money, and 20% on the same money the next year, how much of your money are you going to invest on investments that have risk? The answer of course is zero! Why risk your money when you are now getting a 40% return from the government on your own money? The fallacy that those wealthy people or corporations are going to “reinvest” the money they are getting in tax breaks from the government has shown to be nothing but propaganda by the radical right wing of the Radical party. I do agree that workers and their wages pay taxes and produce more fuel for the economy. Warren Buffet seems to know a bit about money and economics, I think he might say, I would rather have 10 people with 10 million dollars rather that one person with 100 million. I would rather have 10 people with 1 million dollars than one person with 10 million dollars. And I would rather have 10 people with 100,000 dollars than one person with 1 million dollars. Why? One person with 100 million might buy a couple of cars. One person with 10 million might buy a couple of cars. One person with 1 million might buy a couple of cars, but 10 people with 100,000 just might buy 5 total cars, or 8 total cars or…. and so it goes on in the economy.

      1. Tim you are correct. The right does not think rationally on any of these economic topics. It is just a maelstrom of selfish, short sighted attempts to justify their own selfishness through confirmation bias derived from right wing talking points and the successful propagandizing of their constituents’.

    5. What a crock. You sound like a “Free Market” hustler with there “Greenspanian” give it time.

      It had 8 years under “Double Dip” Ronnie and 8 years under Bush “The Depressionator”.

      Scott’s Tea Party agenda is a $2.2 billion budget deficit nightmare.

      He’s got less than half as many jobs as Minnesota and their wages are rising way faster.

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