Election Day “Dear John (Doe)” letter…Forward belongs to the people

Dear Scott Walker,

You have initiated many attacks on the people of Wisconsin since you took office. Collective bargaining rights, voting rights, access to health care for the poor, seniors, and children; women’s rights, teachers – the list goes on. In addition, you continue to lie about the state of Wisconsin’s fiscal and employment situation to further your political career – ignoring real and persistent problems that people are struggling with to pursue your ideological crusade. You must have learned from a young age, apparently, that “the ends justifies the means.” So be it. You have chosen your course, and it has led you to defile and defame that most sacred of words for those of us who are lifelong Wisconsinites -

“FORWARD”

Forward is our word, and you have hijacked it for your campaign of basest propaganda. Today is recall election day. Within twenty-four hours, you may well be the ex-Governor of this state. Even if you should win today, you may be indicted on either Federal or State (or both) criminal charges. Both are fitting ends to your term, whose legacy will be written with three words – “divide and conquer.” The same tactic used by another famous Wisconsin politician, Joseph McCarthy. 

Like McCarthy, the power and money that elevated you, has blinded you to the history and legacy you now defile. You have used the word “Forward” countless times during this campaign – and it is sacrilege. Today, regardless of the outcome of this election, we reclaim “Forward.” We have history and truth on our side.

Governor Nelson Dewey, as accounted here, insisted upon the adoption of “Forward as the state motto:

(from “Some Personal Recollection of Governor Dewey”, Victor Kutchin)

“Excelsior” was rejected for having meaning and inference as too privileged and regal. The author, Kutchin, a close friend of Dewey’s, gives further context to the meaning of “Forward” to our state’s founders:

“The ringing groove of change.” Mr. Walker, the very meaning of “Forward” as our motto means progress. Not progress of money and corporations over the people, but the progress of liberty and opportunity for all people (and the founders never considered corporations people) – beyond the bounds of Wisconsin.

It must be known to many readers of this blog, but likely not to you…the history of the majority of our state’s founders. Most of them fled countries in Europe for greater political and economic freedom. Wisconsin had two Constitutional Conventions. The 1846 Wisconsin Constitution was  narrowly rejected. The 1846 Constitution would have given women the right to own property, African-Americans and immigrants the right to vote, and would have prohibited privately owned banks. The intent of our state’s founders was a truly progressive state – showing the way “Forward” for the rest of the nation, by expanding rights and liberties beyond existing boundaries.

The 1846 Constitution was rejected; it was done so due to the fact that only white, landowning males could vote, under territorial law. The giant banking interests also owned the major newspapers of the day and launched a statewide campaign against the 1846 constitution – preserving their existence in the new state. Despite this, even the adopted constitution goes further than most other state constitutions to preserve citizens’ rights and liberties. It is easier to grant greater liberty to citizens under the state Constitution than to restrict rights – thus your constitutional issues with the new Voter ID law.

Grant greater liberty, expand the right of access to civil and economic justice, for the greatest number of people  - that is “Forward.” Your draconian use of the word goes against the very foundation of this state. The founders of Wisconsin and Robert M. LaFollette have been turning in their graves for the past 18 months. Today, they will again rest, as we begin restoring the true vision of “Forward, Wisconsin.”

Regardless of the outcome today, you have chosen your legacy, in your own words – “divide and conquer.” WE have chosen ours, as it was written early in our state history – “FORWARD.”

Audit shows cost misappropriation, lack of oversight in Walker DHS privatization push

An audit of the state Medical Assistance Program(full report linked) conducted by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau was completed in December 2011. The 100-page report was highly critical of the Department of Health Services’ unauthorized expansion of no-bid contracts, and lack of transparency in accounting practices. On March 30, 2012 DHS Secretary Dennis Smith sent a letter to Joint Finance Committee Chairs Alberta Darling and Robin Vos summarizing cost savings necessary to fill a $204.3 million deficit in the “All Funds” budget.

In the letter, Smith outlines cost saving measures the department will have to take – including Federal waivers to make cuts to Badger Care Plus, Childless Adult Special Terms and Conditions, Medicaid, and “the Departments’ Family Care sustainability plan.” All of these measures will result in dropping people off these programs during their greatest time of need – in a stagnant state economy with a long-term unemployment problem.

The audit is a clear demonstration that the Walker Administration’s push to privatize DHS services is leading to cost overruns, unauthorized no-bid contract expansion, and lack of legislative oversight. All of these spending issues more than make up for the funds necessary to bring the Medical Assistance (MA) program into the black – without cutting services.

The primary reason for MA cost increases, overall, is the increase in people on the plan – the greatest increase in children on Badger Care. It is striking that as unemployment increases, the MA recipients increases. In the past year, the number of participants has outpaced the unemployment rate – as more people drop out of the unemployment system, the divide grows between those unemployed and those receiving MA. More evidence of the longterm unemployment problem being ignored by the Walker Administration.

The increase in state costs (as a percentage of expenditures) in Program Administration (51.3%) far outpaces the state cost increase in patient services (16.1%). The reason? Increase in third-party contract payments.

In FY 2006/07, DHS spent $66.2 million on third-party contract administrative costs. In FY 2010/11, the cost has skyrocketed to $114.8 million - a cost increase of 73.4%. Third party contracts account for over 40% of all administrative costs to the MA program ($286.1 million). 

Two companies account for 75% of those third-party contracts – and they have had their contracts expanded with no oversight in the last 12 months. 

Hewlitt Packard Enterprise Services (HP) is the fiscal agent for the MA program. In 2006/07 , HP was paid $44.6 million for their services. In 2010/11, the HP contract was paid $64.7 million – a 32% increase in the contract (remember – patient services costs to the state only rose 16.3%). In 2008, the new system being installed for use by HP overran initial costs by $27.9 million. In June 2011, HP reported they had more than doubled staff levels on their Wisconsin contract. In 2010, there were 598.5 FTE positions under the contract, in June 2011, that number jumped to 1,127.5 FTE positions. This occurred without a bid, without legislative oversight, and without a supplemental budget request. As a thank you, HP PAC has contributed $5000 to the Scott Walker campaign fund for the recall.

Deloitte Consulting, LLP maintains the electronic system to determine MA eligibility. In 2006/07, Deloitte was paid $9.9 million. In 2010/11, the contract was worth $13.6 million – a 27% increase (again, compared to a 16.3% increase in patient services). In FY 2009/10, Deloitte was paid $90/hr. for its services. In FY 2010/11, Deloitte was paid $104/hr – a 13% increase. Any public workers receive a 13% increase last year? As a thank you, Deloitte employees reported over $6,000 in private campaign contributions to Scott Walker recently.

In addition, Deloitte is paid $170,000/month for “facility and equipment costs.” The audit sharply criticizes DHS for the “no bid contract expansion.” As state workers (who could have performed like work at a cost savings for taxpayers, according to the audit) were being forced to sacrifice furlough days and pay cuts (in the form of increased benefit contributions); HP and Deloitte were doubling the size of their workforce and expanding private contracts with no bids, and no budget authority from the legislature. DHS overspent its legislative authority by 27% on actuarial services alone through these private vendors.

The audit was also highly critical toward the lack of transparency in DHS bookkeeping practices. The bureau found $551 million in expenditures against General Program Revenue it could not attribute to any DHS account. These were payments made to private vendors toward contract work, but did not comply with any account in the DHS books. State Senator Kathleen Vinehout has asked for a Joint Finance Committee hearing on this matter – as of this writing, she has not received a response from either co-chair, Darling or Vos.

The inability of the Walker Administration to be fiscally responsible, for the sake of pursuing their ideological crusade is the great unreported story of this recall effort. It is not “sexy”, or sensational, but gets at the heart of the matter.

Scott Walker is not interested in responsibly managing Wisconsin government. He is only interested in “divide and conquer” for the corporate plutocracy he wishes to rule. His recall is not only justified, it is necessary.

Vote tomorrow. Solidarity.  

Interview with BLS’ Richard Clayton disputes Walker claim that jobs “numbers were verified”

In a phone interview with Badger Democracy on Thursday May 31, Richard Clayton  (Chief of the Bureau of Labor Statistics division on State Employment Census Verification) clarified the information he supplied to officials with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Clayton is the BLS official who sent the “verification” email to Wisconsin DWD officials:

“I confirmed that the BLS has completed its process of reviewing and verifying the data. I did not verify or acknowledge any actual numbers or data to Wisconsin officials,” said Clayton.

Clayton added, “the Bureau will not comment or release any verified numbers until June 28, the scheduled release date. Until that time, the state can do whatever it wants with the numbers – that is their data. We have only confirmed that our verification process is complete. We supplied Wisconsin officials with no updated numbers as part of this process.”

This information from Clayton appears to contradict information publicized by the Walker Administration, even as late as the debate against Tom Barrett last night – when Scott Walker stated that the BLS had “verified the actual numbers.”

John Dipko, DWD spokesman, did not return emails requesting comment or clarification in light of this new information.

Scott Walker’s budget lie (yes, LIE) he receives a “pass” from the media on again and again…

The lie has been told repeatedly by Scott Walker – in debate, in campaign ads, and more specifically, on his campaign website:

“Governor Walker Promised To Control State Spending And Eliminate The Historic $3.6 Billion Deficit Without Raising Taxes. The 2011-13 state budget signed by Governor Walker Eliminating the $3.6 billion deficit without raising taxes. (2011 Wisconsin Act 32)”

In addition – Walker has continually claimed to have achieved this without the use of “accounting gimmicks.” In reality, Scott Walker created this fiscal crisis – and he is using it to further his political ambitions.

Walker cited the memo from DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch on May 10, 2012 as proof that his “reforms are working.” The report contends that due to his diligence as DOA Secretary, Huebsch and the Department of Revenue discovered over $278.2 million in revenue the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau missed in its February 2012 report. The added revenue will result in a $164.7 million surplus for FY 2012, and an $89.5 million surplus for FY 2013. The change is dramatic, as the LFB estimate put the state in the red over $53 million for FY 2012, and negative $208 million for FY 2013. The combined difference  is nearly $500 million – quite a miss for the LFB, and unprecedented. Or is there more to this…

Setting aside the fact that this estimate relies heavily on Walker’s disputed quarterly jobs data, based on the QCEW (Quarterly Census of Employees and Wages) not yet released by the Federal BLS (note:In an interview this morning with Richard Clayton at BLS, the analyst in charge of the state data verification, Mr. Clayton emphasized for Badger Democracy that he only verified with Wisconsin DWD that their verification study had been completed – he did not verify or attest to the numbers being cited by the Walker Administration), and showed a net gain in private sector jobs, not a loss for 2011. Let’s give Scott Walker that one to expedite this analysis. 23,000 jobs created when 200,000+ are needed just to return to 2007 employment levels is insignificant. The information obtained by State Senator Kathleen Vinehout from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau have much greater impact on this budget analysis – and expose the LIE Scott Walker is perpetuating.

In January  2011, before Scott Walker took office, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) sent their annual letter to Joint Finance Chairs Alberta Darling and Robin Vos (2011_01_31Vos&Darling LFB Memo ). When Walker took office, the LFB forecast a $56.3 million SURPLUS – after accounting for the $65 million statutory “minimum balance.” That’s correct – Wisconsin was poised for a surplus on the day Scott Walker took office.

The same memo one year later shows the effects of the Walker budget, and GOP “business friendly” policies. In essence, Scott Walker created the crisis with his policies – as shown in the LFB memo to Darling and Vos dated  February 9, 2012 (2012_02_09_Darling_Vos_Revenue estimates). As cited above, the deficit in the biennial budget of a combined $261 million is attributed to Acts passed in 2011. Decreased income tax collections and personal revenue collections are attributed directly to the impact of Act 10 on working families (in essence, a tax increase):

“The revised estimates incorporate
the effects of a number of law changes estimated to reduce revenues by approximately $175
million in 2011-12 and $225 million in 2012-13. The most significant law changes are increased
deductions for medical insurance premiums, tax deferrals for capital gains that are reinvested in
Wisconsin-based businesses, and exclusions and deductions related to health savings accounts.
Income tax collections will also be reduced as a result of the additional state and local employee
retirement and health insurance contributions required under 2011 Act 10.”

The tax giveaways to corporations also have had an effect on state revenues, especially in the DOR’s ability to collect taxes due big, profitable corporations by opening up previously closed loopholes:

“The corporate income and franchise tax estimates have been adjusted to reflect the effect
of certain law changes, including requiring corporations that are members of a unitary group to
file combined returns, repealing the domestic production activities deduction, requiring
throwback sales to be included 100% in the apportionment formula, allowing combined groups
to use pre-2009 net business loss carry-forwards, and the phase-in of the state qualified
production activities tax credit”

The analysis shows that instead of CREATING jobs and increasing business activity, Walker policies are actually slowing output and production, as consumer demand and buying power stagnates – a function of the persistent long-term unemployment problem:

“…overall business activity is
projected to continue to expand, but at a slower pace than in 2010 and 2011. For example, real
investment in equipment and software, which increased by 14.6% in 2010, and by an estimated
10.3% in 2011, is projected to increase by 7.9% in 2012, and 7.6% in 2013. Real durable goods
purchases increased by 7.2% in 2010 and by an estimated 8.1% in 2011, but are forecast to
increase by 5.6% in 2012, and 4.5% in 2013. Manufacturing output growth is projected to be
4.3% in 2012 and 3.4% in 2013, after increasing 5.4% in 2010 and by an estimated 4.5% in
2011.”

So much for the “job creators.” How could Walker show a balanced budget, much less a surplus, in the face of this LFB analysis? Simple – as with the disputed job numbers, he made his own surplus – empowered by Acts 13 and 32 of the 2011 GOP-controlled Legislature – who are all complicit in this fiscal fraud.

Simply stated – Scott Walker pushed off paying state debt in the amount of over $500 million to 2030. The interest paid will total over $156 million. This is all debt that should have been by the end of 2011-2012. It is critical to understand that the deficit Scott Walker created in 2011, and decrease in revenue collections from his fiscal policies are the very reason this debt is being pushed off over two decades – placing a higher burden on future generations.  In a memo to Vinehout dated May 18, 2012, non-partisan State Fiscal Analyst Al Runde details the impact:

“Under each debt restructuring
transaction, the principal on the state’s existing GPR supported general obligation and commercial
paper debt would have been paid off from the general fund through sum sufficient debt service
appropriations, but is instead paid off with the proceeds from the issuance of additional debt. As a
result, that principal will now remain outstanding for a longer period of time and thus an estimated
$156.2 million in additional interest costs could be incurred by the state.”

The debt principal would have been paid off from the general fund – but is now being paid off by issuing further debt. An additional $156.2 million in interest will be paid by the state. To use an apt metaphor, Scott Walker placed the existing debt, which should have been paid this year, on a giant credit card – to be paid long after he is out of office.

Conservatives will say, “but Jim Doyle did it all the time…” This writer would be as critical of ANY Governor who practiced this economic fraud – and is no defender of Jim Doyle. If you are a true fiscal conservative, this practice should strike at the heart of your sense of fiscal accountability and responsibility. In a second memo, Runde details the history of debt restructuring since 2001 ( 2012_05_18-Vinehout-Debt-Restructuring-Since-2001). The amount “restructured” by Walker is the equivalent of ALL debt restructured from 2007-2011. Prior to that, only $127 million had been restructured.

To say that he has balanced the budget without raising taxes, in light of this information, is a lie. No coincidence that $500 million is the amount the DOA estimate “found” to increase revenue from the previous LFB estimate. Over $500 million, and more in interest, charged off to future generations two decades distant – while Scott Walker insists his “reforms are working.” Where is the media on this issue?

If this is not sufficient grounds to recall Scott Walker, then nothing is; and those that stand with him, stand with a fraud and a liar.

 For the record, both the Walker Administration and Campaign were given repeated opportunity to respond to this information since Friday, May 25. They have not.  Share this information and VOTE. Solidarity.

Latest Marquette-Franklin poll will send GOP spinning, convulsing…Barrett supporters take heed

The last Marquette University poll (May 30 poll toplines) from Charles Franklin before the recall election, when analyzed, will send Scott Walker and the GOP into full spin and attack mode. Even after spending tens of millions of dollars, outspending Tom Barrett 12-1, and plastering the airwaves with the basest propaganda – the race is a virtual tie.

The GOP and conservative pundits will say Walker has a commanding lead. Among likely voters, Walker leads Barrett in this poll 52 – 45%, with a 4.1% margin of error (MoE), larger than the 3.7% MoE in the rest of the poll due to smaller sample size. Based on the MoE, the results are virtually unchanged from the last poll. A look deeper into the poll will explain why this is good news for Barrett supporters.

As Badger Democracy has always maintained, the polling done by Charles Franklin is sound – the only errors arise from media outlets and propagandists misrepresenting what the poll says. Franklin does a much better job than many polls at disclosing all the information, methodology, and crosstabs. Here are the facts – suitable for offsetting right-wing radio talking points. The bottom line…due to the random sample and geographic population distribution, this is a poll which leans significantly conservative – by as much as 5-8%. Here’s how:

First, post-stratification, or “weighting” of the samples to reflect the overall population. The only weighting done in this poll was for age and sex. The rest of the poll results were “sufficiently close to the population values that only age and sex were used for estimation of the weights.” As samples are derived from random phone dialing, here are significant statistical differences from the samples based on the May 30 poll Methodology pdf:

1. “PID3 w/lean” – This is the party people identify with, when pushed into choosing. Unlike the last poll, the sample actually breaks a little more toward Democratic, 48-42.5%. So why the higher percentage for Walker? The poll is under-representative of Independents (by 7% under), a demographic Barrett is doing very well with, according to previous polls. The other issue, is this is simply an overly conservative sample. According to the crosstabs, Walker gets nearly 18% of the “Democratic” vote in this poll, and 45% of Independents – these reflect what is often considered “outlier” samples…leaning considerably further than expectations based on previous samples. In past polls, Walker has gotten no more than 10% of Democratic voters, and under 40% of Independents. The reason this poll leans so conservative can be found in the population distribution.

2. Franklin is sampling his polls to be reflective of population distribution, based on the most recently available Claritas estimate. Here is the population distribution from this poll, very close to the actual population:

City of Milwaukee                                    12.66%
Rest of Milwaukee DMA                       32.68%                                                                                              Madison DMA                                         16.83%                                                                                           Green Bay
Appleton DMA                   18.50%                                                                                          Rest of Wisconsin                                  19.33%                                                                                               Total                                                              100%

While this reflects the POPULATION distribution, the VOTING distribution is very different. Here is the vote distribution by corresponding region from the 2010 General Election, and the corresponding difference in sample (source, GAB election data by county 2010):

City of Milwaukee                                   16% (-4) 
Rest of Milwaukee DMA                     19% (+13)
Madison DMA                                            15% (+1)
Green Bay‐Appleton DMA                 10% (+8)
Rest of Wisconsin                                    40% (-21)
   Total                                                               100%

Significant that the “collar counties” of Milwaukee are over-represented by 13% because of the emphasis on population distribution, while Milwaukee is under-represented by 4%. Meanwhile, in 2010, Dane County only had statewide average turnout of about 43%, instead of its usual 55-60% – thus only accounting for 15% of the vote. A much higher turnout in Dane County will mean a higher impact than the 15% reflected by the voting distribution, potentially as high as the 16% range seen in the population distribution. For purposes of analysis, let’s consider Dane County even, somewhere in the 15-20% range.

Also of significance is the over-representation of the Fox Valley (traditionally more conservative) by 8%, and the outstate vote – accounting for 40%, is under-represented by over 20%. This is the most significant number for Tom Barrett and his supporters. Based on the differences in population and voting distribution; along with the virtual even distribution in party (though slightly under-representative of independents) it is fair to say this poll could be conservative leaning by as much as 8% (based on the MoE), bringing the race to dead even.

Despite the 12-1 financial advantage for Scott Walker; Tom Barrett and his supporters have brought the race to even, and there is a noticeable shift in momentum.  Mobilizing the Democratic and progressive voters in the upstate areas of Wisconsin, Dane and Milwaukee Counties will make the difference in this election. Every poll has been consistent in that fact.

The Marquette – Franklin poll, by being factually accurate about who is sampled, and the composition of the sample, has given us a clear path to victory – mobilizing voters in these key areas of the state will lead to victory on June 5th.

As Mahlon Mitchell and the fire fighters say… “All hands working” for the next 6 days. Solidarity.

The Unemployment Numbers Scott Walker doesn’t want made public while he plays politics

Scott Walker is playing a political game with the unemployment numbers. Releasing unverified survey results last week, over one month ahead of the official verified Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers, Walker again walked the thin line of legality in his “official” announcement – closely followed by the release of a new campaign ad on  statewide television. Recent long-term unemployment numbers not released by the Walker Administration were obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) by Badger Democracy. These verified figures show that under Scott Walker, Wisconsin has suffered persistent long-term unemployment-which Walker himself has ignored in lieu of playing political games with the numbers in the short recall election cycle.

Walker claims that in 2011, Wisconsin saw job growth of 23,300 in the private sector. This data was in direct conflict with verified data from the BLS showing a net loss of over 30,000 jobs during the same time period. In the April Jobs Report released by the DWD the day after Walker’s miraculous press release, the verified BLS data shows Wisconsin with a net loss of 6,200 private sector jobs from March-April 2012. Private Sector losses for the year April 2011-April 2012 were 11,100. Walker now claims the BLS numbers to be in dispute, insisting his reforms are working and Wisconsin is gaining jobs – pointing to the declining unemployment rate, which dropped to 6.7%.

In Wednesday’s April unemployment rate report from DWD, Secretary Reggie Newson reiterated the good news about the states declining rate of unemployment:

“Compared to a year ago, unemployment rates are lower in every county, all metro areas and all major cities except Brookfield, where the rate was unchanged,” DWD Secretary Reggie Newson said. “More people are working, and we expect more people to gain employment in the weeks and months ahead.”

“More people are working…” If the unemployment rate is dropping, that must be true – especially if the Walker Administration says it is so…or is it?

Besides the conflicting numbers from Walker, there is a glaring problem in the analysis. During the same year in which the unemployment rate dropped from7.5% to 6.7%, the “Labor Force” has remained virtually flat. In fact, from January 2011 – April 2012, the Labor Force has actually DECLINED – from 3,069,656 to 3,068,900 (-756). This is significant, as the Wisconsin population grew 6% from 2000-2010.  This would statistically result in a growing, not declining labor force. Wisconsin DWD statistics show the state has a chronic unemployment problem, as shown by information obtained by Badger Democracy.

Badger Democracy submitted requests to DWD for the numbers of workers who have dropped out of the unemployment system – due to discouragement or other reason, after having looked for work the previous year, and being currently available for work. The number of workers receiving unemployment benefits who have exhausted their benefits was also requested. The numbers are staggering – especially when taking into account the current unemployed number for April 2012 reported as 205,300.

The tables on civilians not in the labor force from DWD show this as being a chronic problem from the first quarter of 2011, with the relevant data in bold type:

Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 1st Quarter, 2011 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,363.7 221.0 249.7 893.0 589.8 773.9
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,254.7 185.2 211.1 858.4 537.7 717.0
Want a job…………………………………. 109.0 35.8 38.5 34.7 52.1 56.8
Did not search for work in previous year……. 60.1 19.4 18.9 21.8 26.0 34.1
Searched for work in previous year…………. 48.9 16.3 19.6 12.9 26.1 22.8
Not available to work now………………. 7.3 5.8 - 1.5 4.6 2.7
Available to work now………………….. 41.6 10.5 19.6 11.4 21.5 20.1
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 17.7 5.0 7.3 5.4 11.8 5.9
Reasons other than discouragement…… 23.9 5.5 12.3 6.0 9.7 14.1
 
The above table shows 41,600 civilians “Available to work now” from over 1.36 million “not in the work force” for various reasons in the 1st quarter 2011. This includes 17,700 who report having searched for work in the previous year, but are “discouraged over job prospects” currently. Another 23,900 are not looking for other reasons. According to Professor Laura Dresser at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, a labor economics expert at UW-Madison, the discouraged workers number is always low in reporting – primarily because of people’s hesitance to report being discouraged. The total number of “not currently looking” must be considered, as people will drop out of the workforce in a poor employment climate using “other reason” instead of admitting to discouragement – becoming a “stay-at-home” mom, adult student, or other.
The second quarter of 2011 shows an increase of over 6,000:
Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 2nd Quarter, 2011 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,358.1 209.6 274.9 873.6 563.5 794.6
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,248.1 172.4 235.4 840.3 511.4 736.7
Want a job…………………………………. 110.0 37.2 39.6 33.3 52.1 58.0
Did not search for work in previous year……. 47.1 12.6 16.4 18.2 16.5 30.7
Searched for work in previous year…………. 62.9 24.6 23.2 15.1 35.6 27.3
Not available to work now………………. 15.0 8.8 3.9 2.2 5.1 9.9
Available to work now………………….. 47.9 15.8 19.2 12.9 30.5 17.4
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 14.2 3.2 6.0 5.0 8.6 5.5
Reasons other than discouragement…… 33.7 12.5 13.3 7.9 21.9 11.8

The total for 2nd Quarter 2011, above, 47,900 civilians available to work , who looked last year, but have given up.

Third Quarter 2011 showed a little improvement, down to 44,700:

Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 3rd Quarter, 2011 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,370.1 175.1 290.5 904.5 607.2 763.0
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,265.4 148.0 248.2 869.2 559.4 706.0
Want a job…………………………………. 104.7 27.1 42.3 35.3 47.7 57.0
Did not search for work in previous year……. 48.4 9.7 20.7 18.0 20.0 28.4
Searched for work in previous year…………. 56.3 17.4 21.6 17.3 27.7 28.7
Not available to work now………………. 11.7 2.8 3.5 5.4 3.4 8.3
Available to work now………………….. 44.7 14.6 18.1 12.0 24.3 20.4
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 14.3 6.7 4.8 2.8 8.8 5.5
Reasons other than discouragement…… 30.3 7.9 13.3 9.1 15.5 14.8
 

Fourth Quarter 2011 shows marked improvement, dropping to 28,500 – the “discouraged workers” dropping to 6,800:

Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 4th Quarter, 2011 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,410.4 228.5 281.5 900.4 608.3 802.1
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,332.9 202.5 257.5 873.0 566.7 766.2
Want a job…………………………………. 77.5 26.0 24.0 27.4 41.6 35.9
Did not search for work in previous year……. 44.0 13.3 9.8 21.0 24.9 19.2
Searched for work in previous year…………. 33.5 12.8 14.2 6.4 16.7 16.7
Not available to work now………………. 4.9 3.2 1.7 - 1.0 3.9
Available to work now………………….. 28.5 9.6 12.5 6.4 15.7 12.9
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 6.8 2.7 3.1 1.0 5.3 1.5
Reasons other than discouragement…… 21.8 6.9 9.4 5.5 10.4 11.4
 
The significant drop in the fourth quarter is explained by Professor Dresser as due to temporary holiday hires – with the first quarter 2012 expected to see a steep increase as those holiday jobs come to an end. That pattern held true, as the number jumps to 35,200 – with the “discouraged number nearly doubling to 12,600:

Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 1st Quarter, 2012 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,395.7 272.9 260.4 862.4 582.7 813.0
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,312.3 245.1 230.6 836.6 538.2 774.1
Want a job…………………………………. 83.5 27.9 29.9 25.7 44.5 38.9
Did not search for work in previous year……. 41.1 12.5 15.6 12.9 25.4 15.7
Searched for work in previous year…………. 42.4 15.4 14.2 12.8 19.2 23.2
Not available to work now………………. 7.2 3.1 3.3 0.7 3.0 4.2
Available to work now………………….. 35.2 12.2 10.9 12.1 16.2 19.0
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 12.6 4.0 2.9 5.6 5.0 7.6
Reasons other than discouragement…… 22.6 8.2 8.0 6.4 11.2 11.4
 
At the end of March 2012, there were over 35,000 civilians available for work - who had sought employment in the previous year, but gave up. These people do not collect benefits, nor are they reported as “unemployed” for reasons of calculating the unemployment rate.
How many workers have exhausted or been denied unemployment benefits for the same time period (Q1 2011 – Q1 2012)? The first response came in the form of an email from DWD spokesman John Dipko, and referred to those collecting extended benefits under the Economic Stimulus Act, which terminated in March, after Wisconsin’s unemployment rate fell below the 7% mark:
Wisconsin had 44,384 final Extended Benefits payments from January 2011 through March 2012. Exceptions include Extended Training and Trade Readjustment Allowance. While this is payment data (v. claimant data), the information provides a good indicator of the number unique claimants who have exhausted all benefits programs.”
Allow me to emphasize that number – 44,384 people were thrown off benefits in March. Again, that number is not reflected in the unemployment rate. The final email response from Dipko was to the question of regular benefits expired, or not qualified to collect benefits for the same period. The brief equation at the end is directly from the email:
“Scott: an additional 14,608 claimants during the time frame specified were identified as either regular claimants who did not qualify for emergeny unemployment compensation, or regular claimants who qualified for benefits in a different state. Except in very few cases, the claimants would have no benefits available in Wisconsin. Again, exceptions include Extended Training and Trade Readjustment Allowance. 
44,384 + 14,608 = 58,992″
Again, let me emphasize the total number by the end of March - 58,992 Wisconsinites living outside the system. Collecting zero benefits, and not being reported in the “unemployment rate.” But they are there. Nearly 2% of the total workforce…over 1% of the population. 29% above the current number of reported unemployed. If that number of individuals is added to the 205,300 unemployed, the rate would jump to 8.6%. If we include the 35,200 civilians who have given up looking for work, but had been looking the previous year, the total is 94,192 at the end of March, 2012. This would bring the unemployment rate to 9.8%.
While the presumptive rate above is speculative, there is one fact from this data that is striking. Wisconsin has a chronic and persistent long-term unemployment problem. At the end of March, 2012, as a state, we dropped over 50,000 people off benefits, and another 35,000 reported giving up looking for work. Professor Dresser characterized these numbers as “highly significant.” Dresser points out that to return to 2007 employment levels, Wisconsin needs 200,000 jobs now taking into account population growth. Even if we give Scott Walker the 23,000 jobs he says he created in 2011 – nearly double that number lost their emergency benefits in March.
In light of this long-term and persistent problem, Scott Walker’s supposed gains in the unemployment rate are meaningless. He is playing political games with the numbers to give the illusion of progress – when in reality, he has chosen political gain, ideological civil war, political patronage, and propaganda over addressing the real problem. There are real people who need real jobs, and they have been unemployed for a long time. The Walker Administration and 2011 GOP-led Legislature have done nothing to address this issue. This Administration has squandered the opportunity and trust placed in it by the people of Wisconsin – to work for the good of the majority of people in the state. How can there be any further doubt that a recall is not only justified, but necessary.

The May Marquette – Franklin poll…what did we learn?

The May Poll released by Marquette University and Charles Franklin has received attention from both sides of the aisle. Scott Walker and the Republican Party are touting the 6 point lead as proof that voters know “it’s working.” Tom Barrett and the Democratic Party are responding by attacking the poll, and the pollster himself, alleging intentional conservative bias. The truth is neither of the above. As a poll is a snapshot in time, the May poll, when observed in the context of the previous four months (January – April polls) give us a clear picture of how close this race really is – and what Barrett needs to do to win.

First, a word on the methodology of the Franklin polls. Accusations of intentionally biased polls on the part of Charles Franklin are unfounded. Badger Democracy has interviewed at length two independent experts in the area of polling and statistics (one at UW-Madison, one at The University of Illinois-Chicago). Both agreed that the polling methods used at Marquette are sound and unbiased – with full disclosure of the results and any bias through random sampling. So let’s take this poll as it stands, and look at what it means.

One issue the polling raises is how the population distribution is calculated and “post-stratified” (or weighted to reflect the population of the state based on regional populations).  As seen in the May Poll Methodology, the population distribution is adjusted to reflect census data. As is the case in January Poll, February Poll,March Poll, and April – the end result is very close to the real population distribution. While this has been consistent for all the Marquette Polls, the potential issue is how the population distribution differs from the actual voter distribution.

According to Government Accountability Board 2010 General Election statistics, the difference is significant. In the 2010 Fall election; Milwaukee accounted for 16% of the statewide vote, Suburban Milwaukee 12%, Dane County 10%, Green Bay/Appleton 7%, with the rest of the state 55%. The population models result in suburban Milwaukee (Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington counties) being over weighted by about 15%, and the statewide vote being under weighted by as much as 30%. The upstate, non-urban vote is largely under-represented. The highly conservative collar counties of Milwaukee are over-represented. That is critical to those who are involved in campaign strategy.

The current May poll also results in a 5% higher response from Republican identifying voters, with 5% lower independents. This has not been the case in every Marquette poll. January leaned 4% GOP, February was almost even GOP/Dem, March leaned slightly Dem (3%), April about 3% GOP (the difference between 5% higher GOP and  2% Dem, lower Independent). In general, it is fair to say the poll, over the past 5 months, has leaned slightly GOP, with May being an anomaly – for several reasons.

While every other poll from January-April have adjusted for age, the May poll did not. The age brackets from 18-29 and 30-44 were under represented (based on census data) by 8 and 11% respectively. The age range of 60+ was over represented by 16%. The reason – the under 30 age group broke significantly higher not only for Scott Walker (55 Walker – 44 Barrett), but for Mitt Romney (51 Romney – 44 Obama). This is nearly a 20 point flip from all other polls, and as Professor Franklin acknowledged in an email to Badger Democracy, “a random fluke.” This, coupled with the over 60 (generally GOP voting) age group being over represented, shows an anomaly in the random sample – this group was just overly conservative.

In fact, the picture of the respondent that influenced this vote can be seen by the fact that married respondents were over weighted by 6%, while all single groups were under weighted by about 20%. The “voter” that influenced this poll was most likely the younger, married, white male that lives in a collar county of Milwaukee – leaning Republican.

Polls give us a picture in time of a group of voters. In random sampling, just as flipping a coin, you can have a period of time when you get five or six “heads” in a row. If you flip the coin enough, the result will “regress to the mean” of about 50%. The May poll is an example of that reality. Taking all five polls into account, and the trend, the picture is clear.

This will be a very close election, decided by two points or less. It is all about turnout. Walker and the GOP are relying on big money and a huge propaganda machine – walking the line of legality. Dems and progressives are relying on grassroots, boots on the ground. If progressives achieve our biggest turnout ever, Walker loses. That is the bottom line.

The proof? The final question in the poll shows where this GOP – leaning demographic has gone in two years:

Did you vote for the Republican Scott Walker or for the Democrat Tom Barrett in November
2010 or did you vote for someone else?

Scott Walker 301      52%
Tom Barrett 238     41%

Within the margin of error for this poll of 3.8% (which resulted in a 50-44 lead for Walker). The respondents in this poll did not change their vote in the past two years. The path to victory gets out every vote for every person that HAS changed their mind. The cumulative results of all five polls show that a slightly GOP leaning poll gives the slim victory to Walker. A slightly Democratic leaning poll gives the slim victory to Tom Barrett.

The path to victory is clear. Get out the vote – every union household, rural, minority, progressive, women, teachers, and democratic voter in the state must get to the polls on June 5th. If that is accomplished – Scott Walker will not be Governor on June 6th.

What Walker has wrought, is not our Wisconsin…a call to Winter Soldiers

It is mid-May, and as the battle to recall Scott Walker enters its final weeks, the political season feels more like winter – just before the spring thaw. The words of William Shakespeare, from Richard III seem highly appropriate:

“Now is the Winter of our discontent/made glorious Summer by this sun (son) of York.”

In addition, the reference to the Steinbeck novel (The Winter of Our Discontent) about Ethan Allen Hawley abandoning his honor and integrity to recapture social and economic esteem is appropriate on many levels. Perhaps one day Scott Walker will see his own works in his children’s actions, and reach an epiphany of his wrongdoings.

The most relevant literary question of this recall moment would have been posed by Thomas Paine.

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

The question at hand, is – are we the Winter Soldier, or the Sunshine Patriot? Twenty one days from now, we will be celebrating a glorious triumph over the tyranny of Scott Walker – a hard-fought conflict none of us will take lightly, and the first victory in recovering democracy for the people.  Or, we will be facing the re-election of Scott Walker – the consequences of which will be an affirmation that democracy in Wisconsin is on its last legs – and we are a hairs breadth away from single party, Mississippi-style rule; in the state Robert M. LaFollette called home.

Meditate on that reality. Share that reality. That should be our motivation to do everything humanly possible for the next twenty days to urge every qualified elector in Wisconsin to vote. If the drive that existed to sign the recall petitions exists on June 5 – we win. If the voters who feel disenfranchised and cheated by Scott Walker cast a ballot on June 5, we win. Do not watch the twitter feed go by, and think someone else will do it.

We have thought that for far too long – and that someone else was the Democratic Party – both of Wisconsin and the National Committee. They have both proven lacking to the task at hand. Unable to coordinate campaign expenditures and resources for statewide and local support; spending the early days of this movement as observers; and running campaigns and messaging that have been cut-and-pasted time and time again. THIS IS OUR TIME.

There are 40% of the voters in Wisconsin that don’t care about Scott Walker’s lies. They don’t care about the John Doe investigation which may yet indict Walker. They don’t care about throwing kids off Badger Care, Women’s Rights, or the fact that Walker is leaving the state with higher debt to revenue ratio than any governor before him. They live in the alternate reality where trickle down economics works, I am the next millionaire (so the government better keep their hands off my money), and the American way is only the strong survive – and that’s capitalism.

Scott Walker has driven a wedge into the middle of the state. That is a fact. And the truth is, for most of us, that is not Our Wisconsin. Say it again – that is not Our Wisconsin. It’s a simple message – one that everyone can identify with who has been affected by this corporatist ideologue that passes for a temporary governor.

We don’t need a party to spread that message – only each other. Look for this message to go out from the grassroots…and pass it along. It can resonate with everyone. Share, share, share, and talk to everyone between now and June 5th.

In my Wisconsin, we support public education for our children’s future…cutting $1.6 billion to public schools is not our Wisconsin.

In our Wisconsin, we come together to solve our problems with the best Wisconsin minds…cutting the UW system, holding closed-door partisan meetings, and adopting laws written by lobbyists and multinational corporations is not our Wisconsin.

In our Wisconsin, we treat workers with respect and dignity…taking away basic rights and slashing workers pay while handing out huge bonuses and tax breaks to corporate elite is not our Wisconsin.

In our Wisconsin, women should get paid the same salary for equal work…repealing laws to enforce that idea doesn’t happen in my Wisconsin.

In our Wisconsin, everyone eligible has the right, under the state Constitution to vote without encumbrance – hidden poll taxes, disenfranchisement of minority populations, and greater regulation of voting is not our Wisconsin.

In our Wisconsin, we practice ethical political discourse and conduct…Scott Walker’s governance is not our Wisconsin.

The list goes on, and on, and on. So does Badger Democracy. For the next twenty days, the focus will be on the lies, misdeeds, unethical, and fraudulent conduct of Scott Walker and his administration. Because in Wisconsin, we believe in ethical, open, and honest government. Scott Walker’s style of governing belongs in Mississippi – he is not my Wisconsin.

(Note – next in Badger Democracy, an inside look at the “Benefits Vote” being conducted this week by Whole Foods Market – and forced upon its “Team Members” in spite of record profit and growth. An example of right-to-work at an employer that considers itself a “corporation with a conscience.”  The Walker record exposed will resume immediately after the Whole Foods expose.)

Democratic Primary Endorsement – Wisconsin needs a woman Governor…

When the introduction to the Badger Democracy Democratic candidate interviews was written, I promised to not endorse a candidate in the primary. At the time, this writer had requested of union and statewide leadership to take unprecedented steps in unprecedented times, and refrain from a primary endorsement. Instead, it was suggested to expedite and sponsor a tour of debates and informational town hall meetings statewide, to give the citizens a close look at all the candidates – allow the people to decide. Then jump in with a full-force effort to take down Scott Walker after the nominee is chosen. That suggestion fell on deaf ears, because in the words of some in the movement…”that’s what we always do….we have to endorse for the sake of our members.”

Since the first endorsement by WEAC, the process has continued; and thanks in large part to the outright laziness and borderline conspiratorial neglect by the out-of-touch and politically inept statewide media, this turned into a two candidate race. Tragic, as the years of experience and wealth of knowledge and ideas brought to the table by Kathleen Vinehout and Doug LaFollette deserved better treatment in this process – and so did the people who started this movement. It is for this reason I have decided to make a late endorsement – to send a message that this is still the people’s movement, and in the end, the people will decide, and the nominee shall be accountable to us.

Badger Democracy is endorsing Kathleen Vinehout to be the nominee to face Scott Walker in the June Recall Election. Anyone who has heard Vinehout speak on the floor of the Legislature or in a debate setting knows she would make Scott Walker look like a sixteen-year old at his first debate club competition. Vinehout’s understanding of the issues at hand in Wisconsin is second to none in the state, and the painstaking specifics of her policies and initiatives demonstrate that she is the only candidate in this race who has written specific legislation and policies – not talking points – to repair the damage done by Scott Walker immediately. Her relationships in the Legislature make it a real possibility that she would have bi-partisan support in many of her initiatives – the most important being the repeal of Act 10. This fact has been completely ignored by the media. She is a leader in the Senate, and has vast administrative experience in overseeing the graduate and undergraduate programs in Health Administration programs at the University of Illinois – Springfield. A brief look at the issues:

Labor – It is a little known fact that Kathleen Vinehout left the security of academia after the faculty union at U of I was de-certified in a brutal and personally devastating loss in 1997. She left the state in support of collective bargaining rights as on of the “Fab 14″ Senators. Vinehout’s strategy to repeal Act 10  doesn’t wait for the biennial budget cycle, and uses the “across the aisle” relationships and political capital she has with her Republican colleagues in the Senate to get the job done – again, something no one else is discussing.

Budgeting – Vinehout wrote her own budget in response to Scott Walker’s. It actually balanced the budget (unlike Walker’s) without the draconian cuts to education, health, and collective bargaining rights. No other candidate has authored as specific a statewide budget as Vinehout.

Education – Vinehout is a champion of public education. She was recognized by the Wisconsin School Administrator’s Association (staunch critics of the Walker education cuts) as “Legislator of the Year”, saying…“A tireless advocate for school finance reform, she clearly understands the challenges facing Wisconsin school administrators.  But, what’s most important, she follows that understanding with action.  In 2009-10, no state legislator had a greater positive impact on Wisconsin schools than Kathleen Vinehout.”  Recognizing the negative impact of the Walker budget on public education, she wrote an “Emergency School Funding” bill. Again – there is simply no other candidate with as specific, and progressive, a plan for supporting public education.

Health Care – Vinehout holds a PhD in Health Services Research, and her MPH. She actually wrote the Wisconsin Health Exchange Bill, with an emphasis on accessibility and affordability in rural Wisconsin. This is a slam dunk – no one touches Vinehout on Health Care issues and policy initiatives.

Voting Record – Vinehout has an extensive voting record, and has been very consistent during her tenure as State Senator. Her record of Legislationis even more impressive. While this writer, as many others, had initial concerns over women’s health access, Vinehout put this issue to rest during our interview. When asked, “as Governor, will you commit to vetoing ANY legislation that would restrict, deny, or diminish women’s access to medically sound care or procedures?” Her response was emphatic:

Vinehout – Absolutely. Even if those issues ended up in the budget, I would veto them, especially anything funding related. Particularly in the case of narrowing access through legislative language to eliminate Planned Parenthood funding; I would absolutely veto any bill or budget item that has that effect. This session has been particularly brutal towards women. I have never seen a legislative session with so much intentional political payback and attacks by one side over another. That is not how Wisconsin should be governed.

Most importantly is Vinehout’s true grassroots nature. The term “grassroots” is being thrown around these days by everyone from labor unions and the Democratic Party, to Americans for Prosperity. While there is no doubt that labor unions have the potential for being grassroots – if they indeed serve the membership; there is no doubt that groups like Americans for Prosperity are the antithesis of “grassroots.” Vinehout is running a low-budget, statewide, volunteer driven, grassroots effort – and wherever she goes, she is winning people over.

In one of the most brutal election in state history (2010), she won re-election over a very popular challenger – Ed Thompson. In Spring of 2011, she turned back a recall effort which never got off the ground. It is also less known that there was a second recall effort which failed  in Fall of 2011. Vinehout connects with all her constituents, across the aisle.

The true grassroots campaign is being run by Kathleen Vinehout, and in debate after debate, she proves herself strongest on the issues. It is also clear the lack of special interest and corporate money would make her accountable to the people who have elected her. That is why she has earned this endorsement.

The full interviews of Kathleen Vinehout, Kathleen Falk, Tom Barrett, and Doug LaFollette can be read at the previous links. Exercise your democratic obligation and right – VOTE on Tuesday. On June 5th, we will recall.

Solidarity!

Candidate Interview – Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug LaFollette

Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug LaFollette is one of the most recognized and educated environmental advocates not only in Wisconsin, but the nation. Born in Des Moines, Iowa; LaFollette received his BA from Marietta College, his Master’s Degree in chemistry from Stanford, and his PhD in organic chemistry from Columbia. He began a teaching career at UW-Parkside, and was a key organizer (with Gaylord Nelson) of the first Earth Day in 1970 prior to entering politics. LaFollette also started Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade with Peter Anderson, now known as Clean Wisconsin. LaFollette served as Secretary of State from 1975-1979, and from 1983 to the present. His great-grandfather and Robert M. LaFollette were brothers.

Doug LaFollette is energized and passionate about the recovery of progressive values in Wisconsin, having lived those values his entire life. In this writer’s opinion, LaFollette and Kathleen Vinehout have occupied periphery treatment in this brief campaign by the majority corporate media. That is a tragedy. Both of these candidates will be intimately involved in the recovery of a progressive Wisconsin through their expertise and experience. They have a great deal to offer the grassroots and the political landscape shift occurring. Our interview was conducted on April 7, 2012 as LaFollette was busy in downtown Madison collecting the signatures necessary to be placed on the primary ballot.

BD – What does this movement mean to you not only as a politician, but as a citizen of the state?

LaFollette – As I’ve been elected many times and served Wisconsin for a long time as Secretary of State, I have the opportunity to travel around the world on behalf of the people of Wisconsin. I was always told “Wisconsin is such a wonderful progressive state” by people from all over. When this past year, for the first time, people started asking me “what is wrong with Wisconsin – what happened?” I couldn’t sit back and let it just happen. This is all about people politics…taking back democracy for the people over powerful money and corporations. To support that, I’ve promised to take no out-of-state PAC money for my campaign.

BD – What would be your first act as Governor?

LaFollette – I would sit with key personnel to appoint new agency heads. That is the first step to repairing the damage done, because the budgeting process doesn’t happen for some time after the election, and we may not control the legislature going into the next session. Top priority is a new DOA Secretary (replacing Mike Huebsch), and DNR (Cathy Stepp). In addition, I would return administration of the DNR to the DNR board, where it belongs. The constitutional authority of the Secretary of State also needs to be restored as a balance of power against an authoritarian Governor or Legislature. I will make sure we get back to Wisconsin Ideas, not these ALEC, out-of-state ideas. We have to get back to supporting the University of Wisconsin, so it can contribute to finding Wisconsin ways to deal with our economic problems.

BD – How  does your experience as Secretary of State make you uniquely qualified to be Governor?

LaFollette – It is my years of experience and maturity primarily. I have nothing to prove politically – I would not be the Governor of any one group. I have support from independents, progressives, Democrats – I’ve even gotten great response from Republicans who do not like how Scott Walker has torn apart this state. I would govern for all the people of Wisconsin.

BD – How would you dispense with Act 10 as Governor?

LaFollette – I would take a two-step approach. First, I would work through the summer to elect a state legislature that believes in the right to organize. The Governor can’t accomplish this alone. Scott Walker could not have single-handedly passed Act 10 – he had a complicit legislature. We have to elect a legislature that will support the Governor in repealing Act 10. In the immediate term, I would order the DOA to sit down and re-negotiate with all the public unions, examine the contracts, and work out agreements that benefit both parties. No more of this shutting-out the public employees who serve this state so well.

BD – In its annual report dated January 31, 2011 to Joint Finance Committee Chairs Senator Alberta Darling and Rep. Robin Vos, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau indicated a net balance at fiscal year-end of $56.4 million (before Scott Walker assumed office). In the same report one year later, dated February 9, 2012, the LFB indicates a fund balance deficit of $208.2 million – primarily due to decreased revenue as a result of Acts passed by the current Governor and Legislature. In this fiscal and political climate, how do you repair the damage done to public education,  healthcare, and jobs?

LaFollette – It is important to understand again, that the Governor cannot do this immediately. However, I would work on plans and solutions to propose to the Legislature that would repair the damage. For example, I would examine every corporate tax cut Scott Walker put in his budget, and look at which we could repeal and rollback to fund our Technical, University, and public education system. We have to collect a fair share of revenue being lost to wealthy, giant corporations that have been lost during this administration.

BD – What substantive difference is there between you and the other candidates in this primary?

LaFollette – My style and approach is completely different. I’ve been a progressive all my life. My fight is the progressive fight of this grassroots movement – we have to stop these big money and special interest approaches here and now. We have to prove Wisconsin can do it better.

BD – How would you govern after this year of unprecedented single-party power grabs and partisan legislation?

LaFollette – First, let me say it has been a mistake for Labor to endorse and take sides. This election has to be about bringing people together again, and that is how I would govern. That’s why I took no special interest interviews, and did not seek endorsements. I will not be a special interest candidate or Governor – I will truly represent the people.

If there is a longshot candidate, Doug LaFollette is it. No matter the outcome of the primary, he is a true original, and has at heart the true interests of the people of Wisconsin. He gets it. We must hope if LaFollette doesn’t win the primary, that the winner of the primary to take on Scott Walker listens to Doug LaFollette. There is progressive wisdom in his ideals that can resonate throughout the state.

Badger Democracy is scheduling interviews with Tom Barrett for next week, and will post as soon as completed. Share, engage,  and discuss. In the words of Robert M. LaFollette said, “…the only cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy.”