Funding promised by Trump for Kenosha can't be used to rebuild
Minor Thoughts from me to you
Archives for Wisconsin (page 1 / 5)
Robert Chappell, writing for Madison365.
An 18-year-old Black woman says she was attacked with lighter fluid and flame early Wednesday morning by white men yelling racial slurs. She sustained second- and third-degree burns.
Althea Bernstein works as an EMT while studying to be a paramedic and firefighter. She says she was on her way to her brother’s house at around 1 am Wednesday when she reached a stoplight on Gorham Street near State Street in downtown Madison. She doesn’t remember for sure which intersection it was.
“I was listening to some music at a stoplight and then all of a sudden I heard someone yell the N-word really loud,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “I turned my head to look and somebody’s throwing lighter fluid on me. And then they threw a lighter at me, and my neck caught on fire and I tried to put it out, but I brushed it up onto my face. I got it out and then I just blasted through the red light … I just felt like I needed to get away. So I drove through the red light and just kept driving until I got to my brother’s (home).”
I never thought that I'd see this in Madison. This is absolutely reprehensible.
Jason Kotte—a lifelong resident of winter lands—wrote about how he's recovering from two years where winter really bummed him out.
Sometime this fall — using a combination of Stoicism, stubbornness, and a sort of magical thinking that Jason-in-his-30s would have dismissed as woo-woo bullshit — I decided that because I live in Vermont, there is nothing I can do about it being winter, so it was unhelpful for me to be upset about it. I stopped complaining about it getting cold and dark, I stopped dreading the arrival of snow. I told myself that I just wasn’t going to feel like I felt in the summer and that’s ok — winter is a time for different feelings. As Matt Thomas wrote, I stopped fighting the winter vibe and tried to go with it:
Fall is a time to write for me as well, but it also means welcoming — rather than fighting against — the shorter days, the football games, the decorative gourds. Productivity writer Nicholas Bate’s seven fall basics are more sleep, more reading, more hiking, more reflection, more soup, more movies, and more night sky. I like those too. The winter will bring with it new things, new adjustments. Hygge not hay rides. Ditto the spring. Come summer, I’ll feel less stress about stopping work early to go to a barbecue or movie because I know, come autumn, I’ll be hunkering down. More and more, I try to live in harmony with the seasons, not the clock.
The people in the Norwegian communities Leibowitz studied, they got outside as much as they could — “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” — spent their time indoors being cozy, came together in groups, and marveled at winter’s beauty.
So how has this tiny shift in mindset been working for me so far?
I’ve had more time for reading, watching some interesting TV, eating rich foods, making apple pie, and working. I went for a 6-mile walk in the freezing cold with a friend and it was delightful. And I’m already looking forward to spring and summer as well. It’s comforting to know that warmer weather and longer days are waiting for me in the distance, when I can do more of what I want to do and feel more like my true self. But in the meantime, pass the cocoa and I’ll see you on the slopes.
There's a whole lot of wisdom in what he wrote. There's value in having different rhythms to your life in different seasons. There's value in deciding to have a positive mindset about the things you can't change.
There's also wisdom in recognizing when your circumstances are making you unhappy and doing what you can to change your circumstances. I lived the winter blues for nearly 20 years. I worked hard to have a positive mindset. I worked hard to adjust to constant snow and bitter cold. I worked to find winter clothes that were both warm and something that I liked. But I still was unhappy every winter and couldn't wait for the weather to change.
No matter how good the conversation is, there's nothing appealing about taking a 5-mile walk in the freezing cold with a friend. And it may be true that bad weather is the result of bad clothing. But I never did find gloves that were the right combination of warm enough, dextrous enough, and small enough to fit my dwarven hands. Or warm, waterproof boots that fit my hobbit feet. And I note that even Jason says that he's already—5 months before Wisconsin spring—looking forward to warmer weather and longer days. That's a long time to remind yourself to stay positive.
My breakthrough happened when I finally realized that no one was forcing me to live in the land of ice and snow and that I didn't need permission to leave. I'm having one of my best winters in 20 years because I finally moved from Madison, WI to Tucson, AZ. This isn't a change that everyone can make. I spent 3+ years making sure that it was the right move for the entire family, not just for me. I made sure that I would have a job after the move. We didn't have extended family in Wisconsin.
I'm fortunate that all of those factors lined up for me. But they did and I was able to move. And the move has had an immense impact on my day-to-day happiness and joy in life. I've smiled more, felt giddy more, spent more time outdoors, and looked at the stars more than I have in many years.
If you're truly rooted where you are, then follow Jason's advice on enjoying the long winter. But if you're only staying through inertia, then don't torture yourself. There are no virtue points for living somewhere that you don't like and fighting for contentment. Spending your entire life in one location doesn't make you more moral or more praiseworthy than someone who pulls up stakes and wanders around until they find their good place. Give yourself permission to move on.
Tess Klein reports for WTMJ:
State Representative Melissa Sargent is working to make marijuana legalization a reality in Wisconsin. She says she will re-introduce legislation to do so in the upcoming legislative session in January.
"It is in the best interest of our state to look toward the future and recognize the vast medicinal, economic, social justice opportunities marijuana legalization would bring to our state," Sargent said in a statement.
"Referenda around Wisconsin passed with overwhelming support proving that the people are ahead of the politicians on this topic, and agree that the most dangerous thing about marijuana in Wisconsin is that it is illegal."
Good for her. I'll bet that the Wisconsin Assembly will just sit on the bill and ignore it in committee, but I still applaud Representative Sargent for introducing it. Residents of 16 counties and 2 cities voted "Yes" to advisory referenda about legalizing marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use. It'd be nice if the state Assembly could manage to get over their own prejudices and follow suit.
"Trade wars are good and easy to win."
BelGioioso Cheese Inc., a second-generation family company in Wisconsin, has seen sales to Mexico drop since officials there implemented tariffs of up to 15% in early June on most U.S. cheese. The levies were a response to tariffs the U.S. placed on Mexican steel and aluminum.
On Thursday, Mexico was slated to raise its levy on most U.S. cheese to as much as 25%, while China on Friday is implementing tariffs on $34 billion of U.S. goods, including cheese and whey, a dairy byproduct often fed to livestock.
"It’s a nightmare," said BelGioioso President Errico Auricchio.
The Mexican tariffs affect as much as $578 million in U.S. dairy goods, while China’s duties could hit $408 million of cheese, whey and other products, according to U.S. Chamber of Commerce data.
July milk futures have dropped 12% since Mexico announced May 31 that it would strike back with tariffs. The price for a barrel, or 500 pounds, of white cheddar last week hit its lowest level since 2009. More cheese is in cold storage in the U.S. than any time since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began keeping track in 1917.
U.S. dairy farmers have been caught up in a trade dispute with Mexico before. In 2009, Mexico imposed tariffs in response to a trucking disagreement that included levies as high as 25% on U.S. cheeses. U.S. shipments of cheese to Mexico fell by 26% during the 14-month dispute, according to the INTL FCStone Financial, a trading firm.
Since then, U.S. dairy exports have grown to account for about 12% of Mexican consumption last year, according to Rabobank.
More than 60 cheese and dairy producers wrote to the Trump administration last month, saying the trade war could cost them that foothold. "Our share of the Mexican market is in grave jeopardy," they wrote.
René Fonseca, general director of Mexico’s National Milk Industries’ Chamber, said Mexican processors are pushing U.S. producers to lower their prices to make up for the tariff.
Mexican dairies are also ramping up production and processors are looking for alternative suppliers for cheeses such as gouda in the European Union, Mr. Fonseca said. He said Mexican companies that find a new supplier likely won’t revert to their old U.S. trade partner if tariffs are removed.
Shamane Mills, writing for Wisconsin Public Radio.
The federal government is trying to get people to eat better with updated Nutrition Fact labels on packaged foods, and one change to the label would specify added sugars.
But those who keep bees and tap trees are fighting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposal, and the federal agency may go back to the drawing board.
The FDA proposal is designed to educate consumers about how much sugar they eat. But producers of honey and maple syrup say a label with the words "added sugars" is confusing — and misleading — because they aren’t adding anything.
One such producer is Kent Pegorsch, president of the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association and a commercial beekeeper in Waupaca.
"We objected to the wording which was misleading consumers to believe that we were adding corn syrup or other sugars to our product when in fact we weren’t, it was just naturally occurring sugars that were already in the product," Pegorsch said.
The FDA received more than 3,000 comments on its labeling proposal, most from honey and maple syrup producers. The proposed label changes were debuted in May 2016 by former First Lady Michelle Obama and the comment period closed June 15.
"This is (the) second comment period based on feedback they received during first comment period. I unfortunately have a feeling the FDA is close to putting this into the regulations, and they’re really not going to clarify this any further than possibly allowing us to add a footnote on the label explaining what added sugars actually means. I don’t foresee a big change coming," said Pegorsch.
The FDA said in a constituent update that it "looks forward to working with stakeholders to devise a sensible solution."
This is the sort of thing that gives government regulation a bad name.
The New York Times provides an apocalyptic headline for this article by Julie Bosman. In reality, this is a story about one specific, rural school closing, with some notes about other tiny, rural schools that have also closed.
Lola was among the last students to attend Arena Community Elementary. After classes let out last Monday, the school was shuttered permanently by the River Valley School District, whose administrators say that unforgiving budgets, a dearth of students and an aging population have made it impossible to keep the school open. For the first time since the 1800s, the village of Arena has no school.
Arena Elementary is the second small rural elementary school in two years to close in the district, nearly 300 square miles of rolling pastures and dairy farms in southwestern Wisconsin. The one in the neighboring village of Lone Rock closed last spring. The district now has just one open public elementary school, in Spring Green, nine miles away.
Administrators say they hardly had any choice.
The numbers are there for anyone to see: The River Valley School District graduated 105 seniors this year, and expects only 66 kindergartners to start school in the fall.
Residents worry about what will happen to Arena, population 834, without the school. There isn’t much else on this two-lane stretch of Highway 14: a gas station, a cheese outlet, a cafe called Grandma Mary’s, beloved for its Friday fish fry and beef stroganoff.
But the reality of rural life in the Midwest, school officials say, is that younger people are fleeing. They want Starbucks and Thai restaurants, plentiful jobs and high-speed internet, and when they start families, they want schools with amenities and big, thriving athletic programs.
“In any small community, anywhere in this country, our kids grow up and move away,” said Mark Strozinsky, a River Valley school board member. “They go to college and get a job, but it’s not here, because the opportunity is not here. So who’s left here? Grandma and Grandpa.”
Two schools in the Portage school district in central Wisconsin closed several years ago after enrollment declined sharply, the district administrator, Charles Poches, said.
“You can’t have four teachers for 40 kids,” he said.
As the public face of the district, Mr. Poches said that he bore the brunt of residents’ fury at public hearings.
“It was hell,” he said. “We’d have 50 people, some who didn’t even have kids there but had gone to school there. They felt it was part of their community. It was very traumatic.”
Melissa Schmid, whose 10-year-old stepson, Evan, completed fourth grade this year, said she wished she had fought harder to keep the Arena school open. When the time comes for her 1-year-old daughter, she and her husband have decided to send her to school in a different district to spare her a long bus ride.
She worries about the value of their house. New people aren’t moving to Arena much anyway. But they definitely won’t now.
“We basically have a bank and a cheese factory,” Ms. Schmid said. “It’s not going to be a growing community.”
Communities are born, grow, mature, decline, and, eventually, die. This article tugs at the heartstrings, but it's not clear to me why we should try to stop what's happening, to make rural America great again. I understand how the existing residents feel. But the hard truth is that people increasingly prefer suburban and urban lifestyles to rural life. No amount of nostalgia or outside financial support is going to cause this rural district to grow again.
A state law that makes it illegal to sell a popular Irish butter in Wisconsin is unconstitutional and deprives consumers of their rights, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Ozaukee County court.
The public advocacy group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty brought the suit against the state on behalf of five clients, four of them consumers and one a Grafton food store.
Good. Very good. And why was this necessary?
"Wisconsin’s current protectionist law requires butter that is bought and sold to be labeled by the government. This archaic labeling regime prevents very popular butter such as Kerrygold from being enjoyed by Wisconsin residents," the group said in a news release.
A state law with roots in the 1953 margarine scare requires all butter sold in Wisconsin to be tested and graded by state-approved experts.
As a butter made and packaged in Ireland, Kerrygold is not inspected in the United States, making it illegal to sell under the state law.
Lest you think this is a worthwhile regulation, Wisconsin is the only state in the nation with a law like this. It's a purely protectionist measure, to make the Wisconsin dairy industry happy.
I voted Tuesday, with most of the rest of the state of Wisconsin. I live in the People's Democratic Republic of Dane County, so I take great pride in having a losing record in each local election that I vote in. This year was no different, as I went 1 for 5 in local elections. I did have an odd feeling of satisfaction, as I went 2 for 2 in statewide voting. I finished with a 3–7 record overall. (My vote is in italics; the winning vote is bolded.)
President of the United States --- Republican
- Donald Trump, 35%
- John Kasich, 14%
- Ted Cruz, 48%
Justice of the Supreme Court
- JoAnne Kloppenburg, 48%
- Rebecca Bradley, 52%
Oregon Village Trustee (choose 3)
- Doug Brethauer, 22.7%
- Jeff Boudreau, 24.5%
- Philip Harms, 21.2%
- Jerry Bollig, 31.3%
- Write-in ("No TIFs"), 0.3%
Oregon School District Board Member --- Area 1 (choose 2)
- Dan Krause, 30%
- Krista Flanagan, 46%
- Uriah Carpenter, 24%
- Write-in ("No drug dogs"), 0.5%
The Wisconsin Assembly is considering some changes to how broadband providers apply to provide service.
AB 820, creates a “Broadband Forward” certification for municipalities that is intended to limit fees and streamline the application process for service providers. To be eligible, municipalities must enact an ordinance that designates a single contact for applicants to work with and provide a timeline for consideration of applications, specific criteria for approval or denial of applications, and enables electronic filing.
It would also prohibit application fees exceeding $100 and bar municipalities from discriminating against providers seeking access to public right-of-ways.
That all sounds good to me.
[Rep. Dave Considine, D-Baraboo] said he’s largely concerned that the bill would place too many restrictions on local governments.
“I’m scared that we’re dictating a whole lot as a state to local municipalities,” he said. “While I support rural broadband like crazy and wanted to sign on just based on the title, I think there’s enough restrictions in there that make me hesitate.”
Oh? How are these restrictions a bad thing? The provisions about providing a single point of contact, hard timelines, and specific criteria all sound like very good things to me. Let the companies know who they're dealing with, how long the process will take, and exactly what they have to do. Get rid of the risk of long delays and capricious criteria.
Bill Esbeck, executive director of the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association, lauded the bill for prohibiting “unreasonable” fees on service providers. Some of the Telecommunications Association’s member companies have seen right-of-way access fees as high as $5 per foot, making already expensive projects less feasible, he said.
“When you have a project that is looking to invest in a fiber route that’s 10,000 feet long, a $50,000 invoice from a local government seems to cross the line between reasonable and unreasonable. … This will absolutely improve the efficiency of those investments,” Esbeck said.
Given the deplorable lack of rural broadband in America, to say nothing of actual competition, I think the State should approve anything and everything that can speed up the approval and permitting process. The faster and cheaper it is to submit an application for providing broadband service, the more broadband you're likely to get.
This is a very interesting service, from a local Madison company.
“A healthy diet is good for everyone. But as people get older, cooking nutritious food can become difficult and sometimes physically impossible. A pot of soup can be too heavy to lift. And there’s all that time standing on your feet. It’s one of the reasons that people move into assisted living facilities.
But a company called Chefs for Seniors has an alternative: They send professional cooks into seniors’ homes. In a couple of hours they can whip up meals for the week.”
“According to some estimates, there are hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million seniors living in their own homes who are malnourished. In long-term care facilities, up to 50 percent may suffer from malnutrition. This leads to increased risk for illness, frailty and falls.”
“Part of the business plan is keeping the service affordable. In addition to the cost of the food, the client pays $30 an hour for the chef’s time. That’s usually a couple of hours a week of cooking and cleaning up the kitchen. There’s also a $15 charge for grocery shopping. So clients pay on average $45 to $75 a week.
And while there are lots of personal chefs out there and services that deliver meals for seniors there are few services specifically for older adults that prepare food in their homes.”
This isn't what most people would think of as healthcare, but I'd call it healthcare innovation. Living a healthy life—and eating right— is a big part of staying out of clinics and hospitals. If people spend money on this service, they could very well be saving thousands of dollars in other healthcare expenses.
This strikes me as the kind of service that insurance companies won't want to provide but that patients would be willing to pay for, if they have control over their own healthcare dollars.
It looks like it'll be an interesting—and awkward—couple of months on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“Wisconsin Supreme Court justices moved quickly Wednesday to elect a new chief following certification of a constitutional amendment that ended seniority as the sole determinant, even as a federal lawsuit was pending seeking to delay replacing longtime Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
Abrahamson objected to the email vote making Justice Patience Roggensack the chief justice, and Abrahamson continues to believe she still holds the position, her attorney Robert Peck said in a letter filed with U.S. District Court late Wednesday.”
Since I live in the People's Democratic Republic of Dane County, I take great pride in having a losing record in each election that I vote in. This year was no exception. I finished with a 1-14 record. (My vote is in italics; the winning vote is bolded.)
Governor & Lieutenant Governor
- Mary Burke / John Lehman (Democratic), 47%
- Scott Walker / Rebecca Kleefisch (Republican), 52%
- Dennis Fehr / No Candidate (People's Party), 0%
- Robert Burke / Joseph M. Brost (Libertarian), 1%
- Susan V. Happ (Democratic), 45%
- Brad Schimel (Republican), 52%
- Thomas A. Nelson, Sr. (Libertarian), 3%
Secretary of State
- Doug La Follette (Democratic), 50%
- Julian Bradley (Republican), 46%
- Jerry Broitzman (Constitution), 1%
- Andy Craig (Libertarian), 3%
- David L. Sartori - (Democratic), 45%
- Matt Adamczyk - (Republican), 49%
- Andrew Zuelke - (Constitution), 1%
- Ron Hardy - (Wisconsin Green Party), 3%
- Jerry Shidell - (Libertarian), 2%
U.S. Congress, District 2
- Mark Pocan (Democratic), 68%
- Peter Theron (Republican), 32%
State Senator, District 27
- Jon Erpenbach (Democratic)
- Write-in: [I forgot what name I wrote in]
Assembly Representative, District 80
- Sondy Pope (Democratic)
- Write-in: Tony Stark
- David J. Mahoney (Democratic)
- Write-in: Capt. America
Clerk of Circuit Court
- Carlo Esqueda
Question 1: "Creation of a Transportation Fund. Shall section 9 (2) of article IV and section 11 of article VIII of the constitution be created to require that revenues generated by use of the state transportation system be deposited into a transportation fund administered by a department of transportation for the exclusive purpose of funding Wisconsin's transportation systems and to prohibit any transfers or lapses from this fund?"
- Yes, (80%)
- No, (20%)
Question 1: "Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?"
- Yes, (74%)
- No, (26%)
Question 2: "Shall the next Governor and State Legislature accept available federal funds for BadgerCare to ensure that thousands of Wisconsin citizens have access to quality and affordable health coverage?"
- Yes, (82%)
- No, (18%)
Shall the Village of Oregon adopt the following Resolution?
RESOLVED, the people of the Village of Oregon, Wisconsin, call for reclaiming democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate influence by amending the U.S. Constitution to establish that:
Only human beings - not corporations, unions, non-profits, or similar associations - are endowed with constitutional rights; and
Money is not speech, and, therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we hereby instruct our state and federal representatives to enact Resolutions and legislation to advance this effort.
- Yes, (80%)
- No, (20%)
Oregon School District
Question 1: "Shall the Oregon School District, Dane, Rock and Green Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $54,600,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and improvement program consisting of the construction of additions to and renovation and improvement of Oregon High School, Oregon Middle School and Brooklyn Elementary School; renovation and improvement of Prairie View Elementary School and Netherwood Elementary School; acquisition and installation of technology improvements; roof replacement at District buildings; HVAC upgrades at the swimming pool; and construction of storm water improvements and other site improvements on the JC Park East property?"
- Yes, (63%)
- No, (37%)
Question 2: "Shall the Oregon School District, Dane, Rock and Green Counties, Wisconsin, for the 2015-2016 school year and thereafter be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $355,864 a year, for recurring purposes of paying operation and maintenance expenses associated with new or upgraded District facilities?"
- Yes, (61%)
- No, (39%)
John Fund, writing in National Review:
In 2008, an investigative unit of the Milwaukee Police Department issued a 67-page report on what it called an “illegal organized attempt to influence the outcome of [the 2004] election in the state of Wisconsin.” John Kerry won the state by less than 12,000 votes in the presidential race that year. The police report found that between 4,600 and 5,300 more votes were counted in Milwaukee than the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots. Absentee ballots were cast by people living elsewhere; ineligible felons not only voted but worked at the polls; transient college students cast improper votes; and homeless voters possibly voted more than once.
Vote fraud is a real problem. Kudos to Milwaukee for taking it seriously. And tar and feathers for anyone else who thinks that only racists could possibly want to verify voters before counting votes.
Wisconsin's School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) recently finished a 5-year study of the effectiveness of Milwaukee's voucher program.
After five years, the SCDP team found:
Statistically significant gains for voucher users in reading compared to matched Milwaukee Public School (MPS) pupils (with the important caveat that the introduction of program wide WKCE testing in the final year of the evaluation could be responsible for some of the gains);
- Statistically similar impacts on math test scores for matched MPS and MPCP users;
- A modest positive impact on public school tests scores as more private schools participated in the MPCP;
- Statewide taxpayer savings, though not in Milwaukee;
- Higher graduation rates for voucher users compared to MPS;
- Higher rates of four-year college enrollment for voucher users;
- Evidence that closed schools in both MPS and the MPCP were the lower performers;
- High levels of parental satisfaction;
- No impact on housing prices or racial integration;
- High rates of school switching;
- Wide variation in achievement levels between schools.
So what are the practical lessons from the SCDP for other communities considering vouchers? Don’t expect the introduction of a voucher program to sizably increase test scores across the board for voucher users, or students in public schools. It’s safe to expect no negative impact on test scores, but any gains will likely be substantively small. So if the primary consideration in a community is raising test scores, a voucher program like Milwaukee’s may not be wise.
However, if you are a community struggling with high school graduation rates, particularly for low-income pupils (like Madison and Green Bay), a Milwaukee style voucher program could be a viable strategy to raise attainment.
I think this evidence justifies expanding the voucher program state wide. I'd love to see that happen.
The Cato Institute recently released the 2012 version of their annual report card on the nation's governors. As a supporter of the Tea Party movement, it's gratifying to see that the Republican governors are actually improving and are growing more fiscally responsible.
Wisconsin's own Scott Walker earns a "C", for some very good reasons. I hope he can pull that up to an "A" over the next 2 years.
Are Republicans and Democrats Any Different?
Advocates of smaller government often lament that politicians of both major par- ties tax and spend too much. While that is certainly true, Cato report cards have found that Republican governors are a bit more fiscally conservative than Democratic governors, on average. In the 2008 report card, Republican and Democratic governors had average scores of 55 and 46, respectively. In the 2010 report card, they had average scores of 55 and 47, respectively.
This pattern is even more pronounced in the 2012 report card. This time around, Republican and Democratic governors had average scores of 57 and 43, respectively. And, as in prior report cards, the difference between the two parties is slightly more pronounced on taxes than on spending.
The fiscal differences between governors of the two parties have increased a bit. In this year’s results, there are fewer governors than in prior reports who are out of step with the typical policies of their parties. In both the 2008 and 2010 reports, for example, Democrat Joe Manchin earned an “A,” while Republican Jodi Rell earned an “F.” But in this year’s report, all four “A” governors are Republicans and all five “F” governors are Democrats.
Wisconsin's own Christian Schneider talks about the forces that drove GM to close the plant in Janesville, WI.
While plant closings are always complex issues, two main issues (both somewhat embarrassing to the Left) played a large role: the heavy burden of organized labor and misplaced government intervention in the automotive marketplace.
As George Will wrote at the time, by 2005, GM had essentially become a health-care company that also happened to make automobiles.
This is why I worry about government spending levels. Wisconsin either needs to cut spending or raise taxes (or both) an average of $1522 more per household, per year. For the next 30 years.
Wisconsin voters know they are struggling. They sense that unchecked growth of local and state governments will grind them down even more. Government as usual was not an option.
But they need to know how bad things really are.
For example, without major reforms, the public pensions officially accounted at 100 percent funded actually need $1,563 more from the average household every year for 30 years just to pay benefits already promised, according to an updated study for the National Bureau of Economic Research by Robert Novy-Marx and Joshua Rauh.
Public retiree health-care funding is more than $2.3 billion short, according to the Pew “Widening Gap” study, and the state only paid 45 percent of the last payment due. Somebody is going to have to make up the difference.
My favorite Wisconsin political blogger comments on Tuesday's election results.
- The Democrats have no bench. Hey Democrats, who are your frontrunners for the 2014 gubernatorial election? You just killed off Tom Barrett and Kathy Falk. You have nobody in the Congressional delegation. If Ron Kind wouldn't do it now, at a time when you really needed him, why's he going to do it later when he has to give up his House seat to do it? And what else? Your Young Screamers contingent? Supertwitterer Chris Larson? Gordon Hintz, lover of the happy ending? The ever-sanctimonious Kelda Helen Roys? That'd be like the GOP hanging its hat on Andre Jacque and Tyler August.
This is the real work of "rebuilding America's crumbling roads". And the money involved is going to require everyone to pitch in, especially the people who use Wisconsin's roads the most.
All highways wear out over time, despite ongoing maintenance. Over the next 30 years, most of Wisconsin’s Interstate system will exceed its nominal 50-to 60-year design life and will need complete reconstruction. When that point is reached, it makes sense to update designs to current safety and operational standards, as was done recently in the reconstruction of the Marquette interchange. And in corridors where demand is projected to exceed capacity, resulting in heavy congestion, it makes sense to add lanes.
Wisconsin already has a $1 billion per year highway funding gap. The total $26.2 billion cost of this Interstate program is far beyond the ability of current transportation funding sources to handle. Federal and state fuel tax revenues, the largest source of transportation funding, are in long-term decline in real, or inflation-adjusted, terms, and a portion of Wisconsin’s vehicle registration fee revenue is now committed for several decades to paying debt service on transportation revenue bonds issued since2003 to cover funding shortfalls. General obligation bonds, with general fund debt service, were also issued to make up for recent diversion of transportation fund revenue to the state’s general fund. To rebuild the rural Interstate and southeastern freeway system in a timely manner will require an additional source of transportation revenue.
This study explores the feasibility of using toll revenue financing to pay for this $26.2 billion reconstruction and modernization program. Under the principle of value-added tolling, tolls would not be charged on a corridor until it was reconstructed and modernized. All toll revenues would be dedicated to the rural Interstate and southeastern freeway system corridors, as pure user fees. Based on a 30-year program of reconstruction and assuming moderate toll rates comparable to those on other toll road systems, the study estimates that the entire rural Interstate program could be financed by toll revenue bonds. For the southeastern freeway system, one option is to toll only the new lanes, operating them as express toll lanes. Doing so would produce enough revenue to cover about 17% of the cost of the entire freeway system reconstruction. Tolling would be all electronic, with no toll booths or toll plazas to impede traffic. If political support could be garnered to price all lanes on the southeastern freeway system instead, our analysis estimates that the revenues would cover 71% of the cost of reconstruction.