Thursday, April 11, 2013

First They Came For Milwaukee County, Then They Came For The Technical Colleges

As the eyes of most Wisconsinites were on either the second state budget hearing or the public hearing on the Usurpation Bill, there were nefarious doings afoot.

The gentle reader will surely remember that last month, I warned that all
Wisconsinites should be wary of the Usurpation Bill, which, if passed, would consolidate almost all the power in Milwaukee County into the hands of plutocrat Chris Abele.  I advised those living outside of Milwaukee county to be alert, because if they could try that here, they could easily try it anywhere else.

I reminded the reader of this again this week by having them ask themselves a question:
If they will do this to Milwaukee, what makes you think they won't do it to your county or town?  Here's a hint - nothing would stop them.
Sadly, my fears were not groundless and are already becoming a horrible reality.

A second usurpation bill is now in the process of being prepared.  But instead of taking over another county or town, the proposed target is all of the technical colleges in the state.

The bill was authored by State Representative Garey Bies, who apparently doesn't have all his oars in the water, judging by the opening statement of his press release announcing the bill:
Wisconsin’s economy is headed in the right direction, but we continue to hear from Wisconsin businesses that they struggle to find qualified workers to fill vacant positions. Our technical colleges can play an important role in our state’s economic growth and train individuals for these open positions, but they don’t have the funds necessary to accommodate the growing demand. And property owners who are already over-burdened can’t continue to fund the bill for the system. The issue has become the perfect storm and it needs to finally be addressed.
Going from 11th to 44th in job creation and ranking 48th in economic activity is not the right direction, any which way you look at it.

There is also no shortage of trained individuals looking for work. And sadly, that number keeps growing. The issue is a shortage of jobs that pay a decent salary, especially for trained workers.

And it is the Republicans like Bies who are the ones raising taxes even as they are sucking the money out of the economy and depositing it in the bank accounts of their wealthy campaign donors.

But to get back to the issue, Bies is following the only strategy that Republicans know - fear and smear.

He paints a horrible picture in which the poor innocent taxpayer is at the mercy of the school district boards which want to tax everyone out of house and home.  But he wants to save the day by asking the voters to help him by voting to allow the state to take over all the districts and funding it with a one cent sales tax.  Bies claims that this will raise $870 million, which would be enough to cover the entire technical college system.

All the voters have to do is vote to hand over all the assets of the districts over to the state and Big Brother will take care of the rest.

But there are a few things that Bies forgets to mention.

Such as the fact that it was Bies and his fellow Republicans who voted to slash funding to the technical schools in the first place.

And where he claims that there is no local control, he fails to mention that the voters did have control on whether the districts could borrow money to pay for their operations, well the truth is they did:
Western went to referendum for in November, getting voters’ permission to borrow $80 million for upgrades and additions to school buildings.

That wouldn’t be possible under the changes recommended by Bies, Rasch said.

“If we don’t control the budget, we don’t have a choice in doing these things,” Rasch said.
And given the way that the Republicans have been catering to the well-moneyed corporate special interests, do you think that the state will actually run these schools? They will simply hand them over to groups like the for profit colleges. That and/or they will just divert the money due to some "fiscal crisis," like the some poor executive who didn't quite make their usual eight figure salary that year.

He also never mentioned a property tax break because of it making it a pure, unadulterated tax hike.  Further more, despite Bies' claim that his scheme would help low-income families and senior citizens.  A sales tax is a regressive one and would actually be hitting the poor and the seniors the hardest.

As the gentle reader can see, although the methodology is a little different between the two take over bids, the end result is the same.

Abele and the other plutocrats at GMC are claiming things are dysfunctional and they need to take away local control and remove any real representative government to fix things.  In order to do this, they pretend that they are giving voters a choice with a red herring referendum, while the actual power grab would happen long before a referendum hit the polls.

In Bies' gambit, he is claiming that things are out of local control already and he wants the voters to turn things over to the corporate-controlled state government, thereby removing all resemblance of local control.

These stunts are what Kelsey Richards was talking about in her post over the weekend.  They are the Wisconsin equivalent of Michigan's fiscal martial law, in which the voters don't have any real representation and are at the mercy of the austerity-crazed special interests.

Either way, the well-moneyed special interests will have control of the money and the assets to do with what they want.  And then, like locusts, they'll keep gobbling up things until there's nothing left.

And the taxpayers and voters will be left with only the bills and the regrets.


  1. Geez you must spend a lot of time making this crap up!

  2. Forward, Chris Abele!

  3. A recent article in the MJS talked about lack of employer participation in a welder job fair at MATC...they have trained candidates...but now of course the employers claim the training isn't good enough...well get your posteriors out of your corner offices and meet with the tech colleges to explain what training you need! AND students aren't the customers of tech schools they are the products...the employers are the customers and with that in mind, employers should be footing the majority of the costs for tech schools...not the general populace!