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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, April 07, 2006

Three Friday Must-Reads

They are all long posts, but, you know, who am I to talk?
  1. Start with Dennis York's masterful anti-TP amendment post. The nut:
    Essentially, whether you get Medical Assistance will depend on how many people went fishing that year or how many miles were driven by Wisconsin motorists. Whether we can build another prison will hinge on how many driver's licenses or parking tickets are issued. Different funds are raised by the state in different ways and used for different purposes. The TPA would put them all under the same tent and force them to all even out.
    Read the whole thing.

  2. Then, there's this essay by Jim McGuigan. It should be required reading for anyone in Milwaukee County or in the employ of the press. Highlight:
    I had once been the Chairman of the (Milwaukee County) Northshore / Eastside unit of the Democratic Party and I chose not to run for re-election to that post so I could pursue a seat on the County Board back in 1996. I made no effort to hide my Democratic loyalties. My wife and I had been involved in Democratic politics for years and she was even listed on every Clinton yard sign in the State of Wisconsin since she was the Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. (Yes I’m proud of her—she’s a helluva woman.)

    Another Supervisor who faced recall, LeAnn Launstein, was my first campaign manager and it was at a party event that I met Launstein. Linda Ryan, Kathy Arcizewski, Penny Podell, Karen Ordinans and Dave Jasenski—all Democrats and all forced to go through the Journal Communications inspired recalls. County Executive Tom Ament—a self-described tight-fisted liberal Democrat also fell to the Republican media machine. [. . . T]his was all about partisanship. [. . .]

    But the question that should be on people’s minds now is whether they want to continue to follow their mistake of electing Republican Scott Walker into office as they did in 2002 and again in 2004 knowing that he was elected based on a lie. Walker rode the Democrat-bashing wave, promoted hate for Democratic ideas and blamed them for the problems the county faced. Despite inflation, rising energy costs and health care costs, Walker has intentionally instituted policies of aggressive borrowing for operating expenses to achieve his goal of freezing taxes in the four years he has been in office.
    The rest is just as testy--and just as challenging to the pro-Walker media conventional wisdom.

  3. Finally, more on Scott Walker, who got a big kiss from the daily paper this morning, from Seth at In Effect:
    I also understand the difficulties the county faces in terms of its pension liability—but I question Walker’s actions on this point after he decreased funding for the liability in the 2006 budget by nearly $8 million. Rather than simply maintain the 2005 budgeting level of $35 million—which would’ve covered the costs of the 2006 liability and the costs of the unfunded liability from previous years—Walker dropped the funding to $27 million. This was enough to cover the 2006 liability, but not the annual amortization on the system's unfunded liability from past years, causing it to grow even more.

    According to the text of the budget, Walker made this decision because he wanted “to facilitate a debate within the County over the future of the [Employee Retirement System].”

    So if we’re to get this straight, he purposely underfunded the liability further in order to start a debate?
    It's all that good.

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