Election hangover and Legislative update

The State Supreme Court race will be too close to call for quite a long time. As of the writing of this post, there are still 5 precincts left to report, and Kloppenburg has a slim lead – 309 votes. A recall and all the legal wrangling that accompany such a process is surely imminent. Anyone with a vested interest in this race needs to be committed for the long haul in its success – as it will be a messy and sometimes nasty process. That would be all of us. As this recount takes place, there will still be recall petitions to be signed and legislature to be evaluated, amended, challenged, and questioned. The Supreme Court election illustrates how much work Democracy requires. It is no coincidence that the assault on public education and the middle class being perpetuated by the Corporate elite plays perfectly well into reducing participation in this process. As the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss.” An educated and informed population is critical to a functional democracy, and as we have seen, the effect of Walker-style policies pit the middle class against itself and decimates public education. The previous Gubernatorial election illustrates an electorate that became passive and disengaged – we can no longer afford that type of attitude. The Corporate policy makers in A.L.E.C. (see previous blogs) will not give up – and have an infinite amount of money to spend. The best hope of progressives is to stay informed and engaged in the process. Dane County had a near 70% voter turnout, with the conservative Milwaukee suburban counties of Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee approaching that number. In numbers of votes, those highly partisan areas traditionally offset each other. The rest of the state determines the outcome of the election, and voter turnout is key – reflective of peoples’ level of engagement in the democratic process. Overall statewide turnout is estimated at about 33%. Great numbers for a spring election, but think about that number – 33%, in terms of averages. If the aformentioned counties had near 70% turnout, there are other counties that had turnout in the 12-15%, maybe 20%. Remember, in the last few months, people have been dying in the Arab world to achieve some form of representation in their Government. We have difficulty getting 25% of registered voters to vote in one of the most critical state races in recent history. Part of our job in this process is to engage others – responsible, honest and open debate and conversation. Even if the other party doesn’t want that – it is our obligation in this critical time to engage in the process. Our ideas, thoughts, passion, and openness are the only defense we have for the huge amount of power and money being used to co-opt our republic. The accomplishment of getting Joanne Kloppenburg this close, and most likely even winning a recount, should not be underestimated. It is a phenomenal and historical victory, should it stand. Even if it doesn’t, the emergence of the truly grass roots effort to rally these final weeks is unprecedented. This is one more battle – there will be many more, stay strong and stay engaged. If you need a little motivation when things get a little rough, watch this – I saw it on youtube and is worth watching. Here is Charlie Chaplin’s “In The Name Of Democracy” speech from “The Great Dicatator.” Enjoy, and keep on one more day…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dGPo9XBIPA

In the legislative session yesterday, the “Budget Repair Bill” fiscal package passed. As posted in yesterday’s blog, here again is the LFB summary:

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/2011-13Bills/2011_04_01_SSSB12_SSAB13.pdf

The two most controversial issues in the newly-signed law remain in effect, despite efforts by Democrats to amend. The Executive Branch (Governor/DOA) will now be allowed to retain $79 million in unallocated surplus funds instead of transferring that surplus to the General Fund. If you allocated that money to the GF, the budget would balance. I have requested comment from Cullen Werwie as to what the Governor has earmarked those surplus funds for – still no reply (surprise, surprise). The other issue is with the “raiding” of medical payment surplus from public employee trust funds. This $90 million dollars is funded mostly from additional contributions from public employees – continuing the balancing of the budget on the backs of public employees. I am awaiting comment from AFSCME as to whether they will challenge the legality of taking monies from a segregated fund. Keep watching for updates. On to the Budget Battle and recalls!! Let your Legislators know how you feel and what you think, and stay engaged.

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