Heroic Wisconsin 14?
Time Magazine is inviting its readers to consider voting for whether the Dem 14 deserve to be listed among the 100 most influential people in the world for 2011. They are described as "revolutionizing the concept of filibuster" by denying the Republican controlled Senate a quorum to act on the Budget Repair Bill in February and early March. After the BRB was "supposedly" passed in its stripped down version, the Dem 14 returned to a huge Capitol Square rally on March 12 in which they were treated like rock stars. The rally and celebratory return made the Guardian the next day.
Lost in the furor over the budget repair bill and the stripping away of collective bargaining rights, today's Supreme Court election proxy war, and the massive recall efforts is the fact that the state needs to turn its attention to passing a budget for 2012-2013.
On the federal level, so far Paul Ryan is the only Washington politician with the courage to put forward a budget plan for addressing the staggering federal debt. The President is adopting a "rope-a-dope" approach, waiting to assess the public reaction to the Ryan plan.
In Wisconsin, Governor Walker put out his biennium budget proposal on March 1. Like it or hate it, the proposal was a comprehensive plan for budgeting state government for the next two years.
Here is the only public pronouncement I have found from Senator Erpenbach discussing the Governor's budget:
"It is clear that Governor Walker's biennial budget will eliminate 2,500 state jobs and will result in local job loss of more than 11,000 employees. The work will still have to be done; garbage still needs to be picked up, kids still need to go to school, prisons still need to be guarded. Taxpayers will still have to pay for this work to be done. Clearly this is about privatizing public work in Wisconsin. It is a hostile corporate takeover of Wisconsin government. I don't think the people of this state will fall for the bait and switch." (March 1 Press Release)
Here is the only public pronouncement I have located on-line from Senate Minority leader Mark Miller, from March 2:
Now we have seen the Governor unveil a budget that takes the Republican attacks on middle class and working families and the values they hold dear to a whole new level.
What the Governor has proposed is nearly $1.5 billion in devastating cuts to public schools, local fire and police protection, and the University of Wisconsin.
The Governor's budget will increase class sizes, layoff teachers, police and firefighters will be laid off, and tuition will increase.
Programs that help seniors stay in their homes and afford their prescription drugs, help get people access to affordable health care, and help families care for family members that are disabled will be threatened.
Nonetheless, the Governor was able to find money to give to large corporations that avoid paying their fair share.
It is not enough for the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature to be the party of No. It is time for them to put forth their own plan for balancing the budget with fewer and different cuts than those proposed by the Republicans. Perhaps their plan will not be as aggressive at addressing the state's structural deficit as the Governor's. Perhaps it will call for more fees and taxes for enhancing revenue. Maybe the Dems' plan will be more optimistic in terms of projecting the future stream of revenue under the existing tax structure. But they need to take a stand and not simply snipe at the Republican plan as being out of sync with Wisconsin values. If all they do is snipe, they don't get my vote for Time Magazine superstars.The Governor's budget bill is quite simply balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class and working families; seniors, people with disabilities, children and small businesses.