image by Sue Pezanoski Browne
My home state of Wisconsin is in for some very difficult years — years that will make the current economic crisis in Wisconsin seem minor. Why? Because Republican Governor-elect Scott Walker is taking charge.
Before winning the election, Walker was the Milwaukee County Executive and was notorious for gutting public programs. He follows the Republican blueprint to a tee: de-fund public programs, allow them to collapse, then make the argument that they need to be privatized to perform well. In the process, Walker attacked Unions, cut wages and benefits for city employees, and cut public transportation that working class people depend upon.
Walker has been a absolute disaster for Milwaukee – now the 4th most impoverished city in the US (2009 US Census Bureau Report). His reward for such terrible mismanagement, blame that he shares with many others? An election victory that will make him the incoming Governor.
Over the past month Walker has given every sign that the hatchet job he did to Milwaukee is going state-wide. Walker has immediately waged war against State employees by targeting salaries, benefits, and unions. He has also turned down a $810 million Federal Stimulus grant that would have created a high speed train that would have linked Milwaukee to Madison (and eventually other cities in the region-Chicago, Minneapolis, Green Bay…) His vision…put a fence around the state and allow corporations to come in and reap the rewards. Now, watch Wisconsin sink to massive poverty levels while a handful of people get very rich.
One can hope that Walker’s actions will wake up Wisconsin’s slumbering public, one that should tap into it’s radical progressive traditions, not it’s conservative ones.