Pat Nash
June 9, 2017

It’s understandable why Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t have open listening sessions.

He appears only at companies owned by his financial supporters, at invitation-only events or at Republican fundraisers. He won’t meet with the general public anywhere they could ask him questions. There’s a good reason for that – he doesn’t want to answer them.

I’ll ask anyway.

First of all, what happened to that promise you made in 2010 during your first gubernatorial campaign? You promised, “We will get government out of the way of employers… who will then help Wisconsin create 250,000 jobs by 2015, and as we create those new jobs, we will be able to add 10,000 new businesses.”

Well, it’s 2017 now and, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, (the survey you described as the “gold standard”), we’re 64,792 jobs short of that promise.

The employers who do have job openings can’t find the skilled workers to fill them. Could that have something to do with your cutting funding for our technical schools in your first budget by more than a third?

Marquette University economics professor Abdur Chowdhury told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a workforce skills gap was among the factors contributing to fewer people being employed in higher-paying jobs. “Wisconsin has suffered from a ‘significant amount of brain drain,’ with recent estimates showing that the state loses about 10,000 college graduates each year.”

It’s no wonder. Skilled workers and college graduates are moving to states that support working people and education. Do you ever consider that according to the latest Gallup Poll, Minnesota, under a Democratic governor, is the top state for job creation after they raised taxes on the rich, generously funded public schools and raised the minimum wage? And it didn’t pass any anti-union bills, either, as you and your friends in the Legislature did.

You did what Kansas has done under Republican Gov. Sam Brownback: lowered taxes on the rich and cut funding to public schools. According to the Kansas Center for Economic Growth on May 21, “The 2012 tax cuts inflicted more damage on state finances in the first year alone than the entire Great Recession.” Look it up. Kansas is broke and its public schools and communities are suffering.

Our schools are suffering, too. Teachers are going elsewhere or retiring early. Do you blame them? They have larger classes and, after you consider the benefits you stripped from them, get less compensation now than they did seven years ago.

That’s why fewer Wisconsin students want to go into education since your Act 10 passed. Before that, the University of Wisconsin-Madison typically received 300 to 400 applications for 125 openings in its undergraduate, elementary education program.

Program professor Michael Apple told the Wisconsin Gazette, “It gets about one applicant per opening.” Are you proud of that, Gov. Walker?

Are you also proud that your Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax credit eliminated taxes on those two industries, even if they create no jobs or send their jobs out of state? Can you rationalize that three-fourths of the recipients of those credits are millionaires?

In 2016, even with those tax breaks for manufacturers, Wisconsin lost nearly 3,800 manufacturing jobs and the state had a growth rate of only 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, the tax cut will cost us $1.4 billion by the end of the year. How are you going to make up for that? Cut more assistance for schools, the disabled, elderly and the poor?

You also said those tax cuts would encourage business start-ups. You were wrong again. For the third straight year, Wisconsin is 50th out of 50 states in new business creation. How do you explain that?

You said your policies created over 10,000 new businesses, but Politifact looked into it. In 2014, it found “16 months into Walker’s term, we found a loss of 4,338 business entities.” You then released figures that were deceiving. Politifact explained, “The trend in business formations is not a key economic indicator, because it reflects the number of corporations and partnerships registered at a point in time regardless of whether they employ anyone or have generated any income.”

It found the business formations you take credit for include volunteer-run nonprofits, “Scout troops, condo associations, youth sports leagues, volunteer fire departments, historical societies, ‘friends’ fundraising groups, scholarship funds and many more” that do nothing to create jobs.

Investors know the truth. According to a MoneyTree report by accounting firm PwC and CB Insights of overall venture capital, Wisconsin receives less than two-tenths of one percent. Minnesota received four times as much.

At least Donald Trump was right about one thing when he said, under you, Scott Walker, “Wisconsin’s not doing well.” No kidding.

Read more from the Baraboo News Republic here.

ClayBARABOO NEWS REPUBLIC: Walker needs to account for his decision-making