Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, with whom Governor Walker continues to pick fights, for no good reason other than that he can.
Tuesday, Scott Walker got three standing O's in a speech before 250 members of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in Springfield, Illinois. (2,000 anti-Walker demonstrators were outside the hall.) While in the Q and A that followed his speech, Walker claimed to have a "great deal of respect" for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, his speech was essentially a self-congratulatory paean to the wise choices that he and the GOP in Wisconsin made compared to the "democratic leadership" in Illinois. I guess when you have a great deal of respect for a neighboring governor you do the old Mark Antony thing.
In terms of balancing its biennial budget, Wisconsin clearly did outshine Illinois this past year, unless you feel like the balancing ought not all be done on the backs of the poor, public employees, the public education system, the University of Wisconsin system, and public health care. Illinois could have decided to address its entire structural deficit in a single biennium, but chose a different approach. Wisconsin could have chosen to not take on the entire structural deficit in a single biennium, but that wouldn't have accomplished the evisceration of the political power of the teachers and other public workers like Walker and ALEC want to see done in Wisconsin and elsewhere. The budget balancing act in Wisconsin was, like the voter ID law, all about trying to put conditions into place to secure political hegemony for the GOP. And not your dad's GOP, either, but the wing-nut's GOP. (For those of you harboring doubt about the wing-nut's having control of the GOP, let your mind wander back to the halcyon days last Fall where in a televised debate all eight or nine GOP candidates, without exception, raised their hands when asked if they would be unalterably opposed to raising taxes in an effort to address the national debt, even at a ten-to-one ratio of spending cuts to tax increases.)
Walker spoke about the mistake Illinois made in raising taxes, but failed to note that the overall tax burden on business in Wisconsin is considerably higher than Illinois. He also failed to acknowledge that even with an increase in personal income taxes in Illinois, Illinois personal income tax rate remains lower than Wisconsin's. He couldn't bring himself to talk in terms of the actual Illinois percentage rate. Instead he talked about the "66% increase" in the Illinois flat tax passed this past year as a real job killer. Illinois increased its rate from 3% to 5%, so Walker's math was correct. But I bet no one bothered to ask him if he felt a 5% flat state income tax rate was too high. That would have put him in a box, since for most Wisconsin residents, the personal income tax rate is 6.5%. It is all about selling the meme, not the truth.
Quinn, who I am guessing does not have a great deal of respect for Walker (Walker was lying about that point, in any event) issued a rebuttal the next day by a press release. Among the points the Illinois Governor made were these:
Wisconsin has one of the ten worst business tax climates in the nation, according to the bi-partisan Tax Foundation. In its 2012 report, the foundation ranks Wisconsin a dismal 43rd among the 50 states for business-friendly tax environments. Illinois is 28. (Tax Foundation, 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index, January, 2012, Number 62)
Governor Walker’s budget calls for raising local property taxes in Wisconsin by nearly a half-billion dollars ($ 483.8 million).
Since Governor Walker took office, Wisconsin is dead last among the 50 states in job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Wisconsin lost 21,000 jobs in 2011, the worst performance in the nation. During the same period, Illinois added 32,000 jobs (BLS).
Private-sector job growth in Wisconsin ranks 36th in the nation and lags far behind its Midwestern neighbors, including Illinois (BLS).
Illinois exports grew by 28.98 percent in 2011, leading the Midwest with exports growing at nearly double the national average of 16 percent among the 50 states.
Wisconsin’s export growth of 11.41 percent was well below the national average, placing it 5th among Midwestern states.
The Walker budget increases taxes on seniors and working families by reducing the Homestead Tax Credit.
Wisconsin has cut the Earned Income Tax Credit, raising taxes on low-wage workers with children.
Walker has pushed taxes down to the local level with massive property tax increases.Here are the data from today's official job reports from Wisconsin and Illinois:
Jobs FACTS in Illinois
Scott Walker could only have sold himself like he did to a room full of Chamber of Commerce members. Unfortunately, members of Chambers of Commerce and members of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce have yet to figure out how to look dispassionately at the data showing the Walker administration's policies are failing our economy. I suspect that one feels the need to drink the Kool-aid in order to remain in good standing with peers in these organizations.