Contrary to expectations, Governor Scott Walker did bring up his campaign promise to create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin in his state of the state address Tuesday night.
Having fallen more than 212,000 jobs short of the mark so far, Walker promised to "double down" on his effort to create those jobs by 2014, because "In Wisconsin we don't make excuses, we get results."
Then, as my colleague Rebecca Kemble who attended the speech observed wryly on Twitter, Walker went on to blame protesters, the recall effort, and the fiscal cliff for the bad jobs numbers.
How bad is the jobs picture?
Wisconsin now ranks forty-second in the nation for job creation, according the last week's Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
For eleven of the last twenty-four months, the state has lost jobs, Democratic State Senator Chris Larsen of Milwaukee observed in his reply to Walker's address--putting the state us dead last in the midwest region.
Yet over and over in his address, the governor touted his union-busting, budget-slashing approach, declaring "We are moving Wisconsin forward," as if saying it again and again might make it so.
Walker, who cut $1.6 billion from K-12 schools, tech colleges, and Wisconsin's great university system in his last budget also made Wisconsin one of the top five states, nationally, for cuts to education, Chris Larsen observed.
Yet he proudly declared success for his education "reforms."
He foreshadowed future efforts--which he'll expand on in mid-February when he delivers his budget. Among them, expanding school vouchers, siphoning money into charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling. He made a specific reference to one statewide "reform": the inmates who now work as school janitors, to save the state money.
Walker also touted a controversial mining bill that he has been pushing since last session--to exempt iron ore mines from air and water quality standards, as well as public meetings laws that allow local residents to weigh in on mines in their areas.
Walker made no secret last session of the fact that the owner of the Gogebic Taconite mine company that wants to dig a massive open-pit mine on the shores of Lake Superior was behind the bill. The mine owner was not open to a bipartisan, compromise measure, the governor told reporters in a conference call.
If we are going to get a mining bill, it will have to be exactly as drafted (as if the mine owner, not the governor were the chief executive of the state).
A group of men in hard hats held up the Wisconsin flag to add visual oomph to the governor's claim that the mining bill would create thousands of new jobs in Wisconsin (the mine company's estimate is 700).
The jobs exaggeration, the environmental impact, and the perceived railroading of the tribes that own the land in question are just some of the concerns that have made "this bill so controversial.
Walker's other jobs successes were, naturally, pretty thin. He pointed to one employer in the gallery who had created a grand total of seven new jobs. He pointed to one woman who got a new job yesterday.
The rest was puffery.
"We made tough, but prudent, decisions to get our fiscal house in order. Today, unlike the federal government and many of our neighboring states, we have a surplus, which will allow us to invest in our priorities," Walker declared.
But, as state Democrats point out, Walker only reaches that conclusion by abandoning his promise to use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)--a broken promise Politifact called him on last November.
Using the GAAP standard, Walker begins the upcoming budget with a $2.2 billion deficit, according to his own Department of Administration.
The math is pretty simple, in the end,
If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Yes we CAN protect our children from gun violence".
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