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Wisconsin Politics — A Look At the Future

The failure of the political left to defeat Scott Walker and his right wing agenda will have a significant impact for years to come. This piece looks at what may be in store in the near term.

Anyone claiming that the recall election and the failure of the political left to cut short the governor’s term was a major loss is seriously deluded. We could go on and on attempting to analyze the contributing factors that led to the stunning defeat, but it would be an exercise in futility. Those of us on the left have to accept the results and look to see what is on the horizon for future issues and contests.

The general election coming up in November will determine the direction of political discourse for the following two years. If the Democrats are able to capture a majority in one of the two legislative chambers, probably the State Senate; then the Republicans agenda will be put on hold until they can again gain complete control. However, if the Republicans gain control over both chambers, then the agenda will move forward. The major issues that Republicans are interested in are as follows:

  • Modification or termination of the recall law
  • Converting the state to a Right to Work state
  • Privatization of government services
  • Modification of Public Education
  • Electoral College Assignments

Recall Law:  This may be the only piece of legislation to gain bipartisan support. There will be a strong push to remove recall from the state constitution or at least modify the conditions for recall. One major argument for removal of the Recall Law is that it is redundant to Section 17 of the State Constitution, impeachment.

Right to Work: This may be one of the most contentious issues. The main argument will be focused around economic recovery and job creation. Evidence will be presented that the RTW states were less impacted by the last recession and recovered faster. This is a key piece of legislation for the supporters of the right. If passed, this would be the final nail in the coffin for organized labor in the State of Wisconsin and significantly weaken organized labor nationally. Therefore, organized labor will ramp up to fight the legislation, again bringing national attention to the state.

Privatization:  This has been a key goal of many on the right. In the push for reduction of the size of government, privatization will be presented as the tool to accomplish it. Along with the push to privatize, there will be a move to change the current state retirement program. The political right wants to eliminate the fixed benefit retirement to a 401 k style retirement. This will be a hard fought battle between the remaining public workers and the various administrations.

Another selling point for privatization is that it will increase the formation and staffing of private enterprise to take over the service delivery of the previous state provided direct services. The state will transform itself from service delivery agencies to contract management and supervision agencies. Only essential services will be retained by the state and I foresee conflicts arising between the state government and the federal government

Modification of Public Education:  Just as in the battle over privatization, the right will push to extend the Charter School Program and Voucher Program state wide. Also, income caps would be removed and all citizens would be able to participate. One argument for such a move will be the creation of new education providers, including for profit providers. There will be a change from “brick and mortar” education to cyber schooling in many areas. This will require a statewide graduation examination and much teaching will be to the test.

Electoral College: This is an important change for the right. In a state that is so evenly divided between the right and left, a winner take all system, such as the state has now; is seen as a weakness. The proportional assignment of electors would increase Wisconsin’s importance in electing Republican presidents. The right is willing to give up electors from the major urban areas, Milwaukee and Madison, for the surety of capturing all the rest of the state electors, giving them a consistent majority every four years.  

What I have outlined is only the tip of the iceberg. There will be individual pieces of legislation that will have significant impact on selected programs and policies. I can foresee a continued modification of regulations around the DNR, insurance, tort reform laws and major changes to the entitlement programs.

If the left wants to remain viable, it is time to get prepared for the upcoming regular legislative session after the fall elections. I would strongly suggest that research be done and arguments constructed and perfected. The political right will come at the left with their “guns ablaizen”.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lyle Ruble June 10, 2012 at 03:30 AM
@Greg....Nothing to fear about the right's agenda; it is what it is. As far as the Democratic agenda since they probably have control of the Senate, nothing is going to happen. I really don't think a special session will be called and then the senate will be determined in the November election. I see the Republican right setting the agenda for quite some time and the Democrats will be left to reacting only.
James R Hoffa June 10, 2012 at 07:01 AM
@Lyle - I disagree as to your assessment of Walker's approach in this regard. He demanded efficiencies in government, which are fully attainable with the right leadership being present at every level. As you're already familiar with my proposed federal tax code, I'll just say that I'd like to see the state adopt something similar, wherein everyone has some skin in the game but no one demo is made to shoulder a majority of the burden. As to Milwaukee County - they created many of their own problems by perpetually voting in a board beholden to special interests which have lead to highly inefficient government - you can't blame the state for that. Start cleaning house on the local level if you don't like the way they're managing their local revenue collections and spending budgets. If the rest of the state is going to be expected to jump in and save localities from their own poor management decisions, then I'm also going to have to start advocating for a Governor Snyder like 'Emergency Manager Law' being enacted here.
James R Hoffa June 10, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Precisely McBarrett! Work on achieving government efficiency on all levels of government first - there is much that can be done here!
Lyle Ruble June 10, 2012 at 01:37 PM
@JRH...I think I need to clarify something. CPS in Milwaukee County was taken away from the county in 1996. The state took over direct management and control of CPS with state CPS social workers providing child protection services in 1997. This has been a direct service under the name of The Milwaukee Bureau of Child Welfare and has provided CPS to Milwaukee County every since. This action was taken as a means to comply with a federal lawsuit settlement. Of the original 99 social workers hired in 1997, only 10 remain. With the reduction in starting pay has created conditions where all that can be attracted to join the agency are new BSWs and they burnout in short order. Child Protection Services is one of the most difficult fields in all of child welfare and requires highly trained and dedicated CPS social workers. This is one of those areas that needs to be rationalized and actions taken to staff up CPS services to meet the documented need. This agency receives around 50,000 referrals per year, somewhere around 5,000 to 6,000 investigated for neglect or abuse and 2,500 substantiated. Continue cutting of the funding will eventually push this agency's effectiveness back to where it was in 1996, when through a lawsuit, the county lost the service provision.
David Tatarowicz June 10, 2012 at 07:58 PM
I don't think the Recall election(s) signaled acceptance of the Walker agenda, or the future for the state or country, or what will happen in November. There was a chance for a referendum on the Walker radical right wing policies, but that opportunity was lost due to ineptness on the part of the Unions and the Democratic Party. The Union issue was certainly a catalyst for the Recall --- but it was NOT the only issue for those who are not happy with Walker's March to the Sea. But the Unions made it seem that way by picking Falk early and in utter and complete stupidity on both her part and the Unions -- having her sign a pledge to repeal the restrictions on collective bargaining. That alone probably turned off 30% of the voters, who understandably figured this was a One Act Dog and Pony Show. The Democratic Party in coordinating 4 Senate Recalls showed the intelligence of a Pet Rock !! Why would they want to stir up the Republicans in Republican STRONGHOLDS (except Racine) --- the Democratic Party assured that Republicans who may have even been willing to throw Walker under the bus, were going to go to the polls to save Their Local Senator !!! Dumb- Dumber -- and Dumbest. I personally am and always have been Pro-Union, and have worked both as a Union Member and as Management of Union Employees. But I think the Unions have too many of their members in powerful positions in the Democratic Party, and help to lead it down a Tunnel Vision Path to Chaos.

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