Do you want to root for this guy?
The right wing blogosphere has been pulsating over the fact that Governor Walker submitted an Op Ed piece to the New York Times, which it rejected for publication. In the piece the Governor submitted in late March, he presents a defense of the reforms he has tried to enact in Wisconsin to downsize government and eliminate collective bargaining for government workers. You can read what the Governor submitted here at his official web site.
The Governor described the rejected article as "The One Opinion Piece the New York Times Didn't Want You to Read." Playing off the right-wing narrative that the main stream media is controlled by liberals, this title was undoubtedly assigned to the rejected Op Ed article to convey the impression that it refutes the arguments being advanced by liberals against the Governor's Budget Repair Bill and its union-busting reforms.
On reading Governor Walker's Op Ed piece, one paragraph stuck out to me:
The United States can be viewed as 50 separate laboratories experimenting in the best ways to collect and spend public money to advance the well-being of their citizens and economies. For some time I have been curious as to whether there was some state among the 50 which Governor Walker felt might be paradigmatic in advancing a pro-business, anti-union, leaner approach to revenues and expenditures. I had written off Mississippi, despite the frequent Capitol Square protest signs saying "Wississippi" is what the governor sought. Frankly, I had written off most of the southern states other than Virginia and North Carolina as they tend to be pretty low on the quality of life, quality of services, quality of education and quality of health care scales. Indiana had been a possibility for me, however, because of all the publicity that its Republican Governor, Mitch Daniels, had garnered on the national scene as a government reformer. Newsweek had even featured him on its cover, and David Brooks had written admirably of his tenure as Indiana's governor.
This concept works well in
. In 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels reformed collective bargaining. In turn, the government got more efficient, more effective and more accountable to the public. Governor Daniels even encouraged employees to come forward with ways to save taxpayer dollars and they responded. Eventually, the state was able to reward top performing employees. This is true reform – making government work for the people. Indiana
Following up on his rejected Op Ed article, the governor reinforced that Mitch Daniels is his model of a modern reformist governor when he spoke today to Wisconsin Public Radio about his first hundred days in office. The governor pointed out that Mitch Daniels' favorability rating dropped significantly below his own current rating after he eliminated public union collective bargaining in Indiana by executive order. Governor Walker then pointed out that Daniels won re-election in 2008 with 58% per cent of the vote, as people began to appreciate how successful his policies had been.
So let's assume that Wisconsin can be more like Indiana, as the governor apparently wants to see happen. For that matter, let's assume that Wisconsin can become just like Indiana. What would that mean for the Badger State?
Here are just a few ways Wisconsin would change:
1. Wisconsin would drop from 16th place all the way down to 49th on Forbes's latest ranking of America's greenest states based on clean air, water quality, waste disposal, carbon footprint per capita, consumption rates, energy efficiency, LEED building square footage per capita, and the like.
2. The unemployment rate in Wisconsin would jump from 7.4% to 8.8%. The state would go from the 14th best unemployment rate to the 27th best. Over the past three and a half years, during the Doyle administration and the Daniels administration, Wisconsin's monthly unemployment rate has been pretty consistently about one full percentage point below Indiana's.
3. The average annual wage per employed worker would drop from $40,190 to $38,330.
4. The median annual income would drop by over $5,000.
5. Twenty percent of our state would be living in poverty compared to its current fourteen percent.
6. The average employee contribution to family health insurance provided by his or her employer would climb from 20% to 25%.
7. The percentage of citizens uninsured for medical expenses would rise from 10% to 13%. The percentage of uninsured children would rise from 5% to 8%.
8. The infant mortality rate, teen death rate and AIDS diagnosis rate would all rise dramatically.
9. The high school graduation rate would go from the second best in the United States at 86%, one-half of a percent behind only lily-white Vermont (95% white population) down to 32nd best, with a 72% graduation rate.
10. Our flagship state university would drop from 14th ranked among public universities in Newsweek's rankings down to 32nd.
11. State and local monies spent on natural resources would be almost halved.
12. We would be converted from a progressive tax system graduated based on rising income to a regressive flat tax. While the state tax rate would be much lower than any of Wisconsin's rates, we would also pay income taxes levied by counties at rates as high as 3.3%.
13. Our sales tax would jump from 5% to 7%, another regressive way of raising revenue.
14. The per capita state and local taxes paid would drop by about $586, from $6,088 to $5,502, but we would be spending about $400 less per capita on education per year.
15. We would be driving on Interstate 65 between Chicago and Indianapolis and Indianapolis and Louisville, instead of Interstate 90/95 between Milwaukee and Minneapolis via Madison. Having just come back from SC, I can tell you I-65 is a sad excuse for an interstate highway.
16. We would be rooting for Peyton Manning.
Governor, I think we just need to get back to being the best Wisconsin we can be.