Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kathleen Vinehout: The Facts Don't Support Republican Rhetoric

Debate over the budget continues: The facts don't support Republican rhetoric. Op-ed by Sen. Kathleen Vinehout. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 7/2/2011)

Excerpt: So with all the new money, why all the turmoil? Why the draconian measures? Why the rollback of longtime Wisconsin traditions? Why the attacks on teachers and public employees this year when two years ago we fixed a much larger deficit, balanced the budget and met our responsibilities without the heated rhetoric and without tearing the fabric of our communities?

The answer lies in the choices made by our governor and the Republican majorities in the state Senate and Assembly. The numbers in the budget signed by Gov. Scott Walker last week tell the story.

This budget spends quite a bit more than the last. Programs the governor and Republican leaders don't like - I don't know any other way to say it - public education, universities, technical colleges, local governments - are cut $1.23 billion. Programs the governor and Republican leaders like are increased over $1.6 billion.
[Emphasis added.]

In addition, Republicans leaders buy more than $200 million in new tax decreases, adding up to more than $2 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years.

That doesn't sound to me like the state is broke. It doesn't sound like there was "no choice." It does sound like a lot of bad choices - choices I would not make and choices I don't think most people in the state would make.

Budgets are a plan for the future. Budgets provide a vision and reflect our values. This budget makes historic and drastic cuts in local schools, job training, universities and local government. The budget ties the hands of local officials, forcing them to cut services people need and leading to layoffs, closed programs and big changes in our schools.

Those choices clearly tell us what our leaders value. What they think is important to the people of Wisconsin.

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