Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is fond of describing Wisconsin's 100% home grown, grass roots opposition to his administration's agenda as being organized by "out-of-state agitators." As soon as Walker could, though, he arranged for one of his campaign donors to jump the gun on recalling him so he could begin collecting unlimited campaign cash. That happened just as Walker embarked on a multi-state fundraising tour which was to include a stop in Kansas. So, tell me again, Governor Walker, who exactly is being financed by out-of-state agitators?
Tonight, Kansas labor unions and Occupy Wichita are claiming victory after Walker's planned visit to Wichita next week for a fundraiser with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was abruptly cancelled. Word is Walker and Brownback feared the massive demonstrations that were being planned to protest Walker's appearance.
Here is what the Kansas Chapter of the National Education Association and the Wichita / Hutchinson Labor Federation said in a press release:
Kansans say "NO" to Walker's radical brand of politics
In the wake of mass protests of his attacks on working families in his home state, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has cancelled a high-priced Wichita fundraiser with Governor Brownback and RNC Chair Reince Priebus.
Thousands of Kansas workers led by the Wichita / Hutchinson Labor Federation and the Working Kansas Alliance had planned to protest Walker's policies and his appearance at the fundraiser. Several busses full of protestors, including KNEA members and pro-education supporters, were set to arrive in Wichita from all corners of the state.
"Obviously this is a victory for working Kansans," said Wichita / Hutchinson Labor Federation president Judy Pierce, "Governor Walker's anti-worker policies have made headlines across the country, but Kansans are facing some of the very same attacks here courtesy of Governor Brownback."
"The fact that our own Governor would stand with Governor Walker sends an appalling message to Kansas working men and women. We are Kansas workers trying to make a living, put food on the table and pay our bills. But there are people in powerful positions in this state who would just as soon make that harder to do."
Walker is facing a recall election in his home state for his push to reduce wages and end collective negotiations for state workers in Wisconsin. Tickets for the event with Governor Brownback were going for as high as $15,000, but while facing a recall election Walker is able use a loophole in Wisconsin law to collect unlimited contributions from individual donors.
Like Brownback, Walker pushed though massive cuts to schools and health care in order to pay for tax breaks for CEOs and corporations.
"Governor Walker's attacks on the middle class and working families are so unpopular he is facing a recall election in Wisconsin," continued Pierce, "This week, Kansans stood up and sent our own message that we don't want Walker's radical brand of politics in Kansas, just as Ohio voters rejected similar anti-worker initiatives in their state at the ballot-box."
"The message is loud and clear: Americans just don't support policies designed to hurt working families."
Walker is toxic. Any Republican appearing with him is a fool, as Sam Brownback realized before it was too late. Walker has been a miserable failure in Wisconsin. He promised to create 250,000 jobs, but the unemployment rate in Wisconsin has risen at twice the national rate since he took office. It was announced today that Walker's cuts to Medicaid will result in 65,000 Wisconsin residents losing their medical coverage. Half of those affected are children. Walker claimed his massive budget cuts would not hurt school districts, yet a study released today in Wisconsin details the devastating effects of Walker's cuts:
With 83 percent of school districts responding, survey data gathered this fall shows the vast majority of students are attending schools that cut staff, meaning there are fewer adults in Wisconsin public schools helping children learn.
Conducted this fall, the survey by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) found a net reduction of 3,368 kindergarten through 12th-grade staff members in responding districts. This figure matches a recent report by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development that estimated a loss of roughly 4,000 jobs in K-12 education. Half of responding school districts reported they buffered staffing cuts with one-time federal stimulus money through the federal Education Jobs Act, funding that will not be available next year. Two thirds of responding districts said they expected to make the same or greater cuts next year.
“Budgets have consequences and the 2011-13 state budget made sweeping changes to funding for public schools,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “It’s no surprise that school districts balanced their budgets; they always do, even under 18 years of revenue limits. It is clear this year that districts had to cut staff, eliminate vital support services, and reduce course offerings, narrowing educational opportunities for Wisconsin’s school children.”
Walker's response to all the bad news? Lipstick on a pig. Seriously, his response to the news that one third of 4th - 6th grade classes have increased in size is to boast that "67% of districts for grades 4-6 are keeping the same class size or decreasing them." He can cherry pick data from each district but the fact remains that virtually every district in the state had to cut something important and will have to cut again next year. (The "same OR decreasing" spin is a nice touch to his propaganda, isn't it? That's like my barber telling me that my bald spot either stayed the same or decreased since the last time I saw him.)
We have an expression here in Wisconsin - Walker is a weasel, not a Badger - but the good people of Kansas smelled a rat. Nice job, Kansas. We love you.
photo by matthileo on flickr.com