Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Day TABOR Came To Wisconsin

This afternoon, Scott Walker is scheduled to sign the budget for 2013-2015 at the plant owned and operated by some of his campaign donors.  As the gentle reader is fully aware of, there are so many things wrong with this budget that it would take a year to explain them all.

And that's just the stuff we are aware of.  Lord knows what other insanity the Republicans have sneaked in between the lines and won't be made known until it's too late.

One of the things that we are aware of is that Walker is again going to cut shared revenue to the counties and municipalities. And since he's already clamped down on local governments' ability to raise taxes, he has now shut them down from raising fees to make up some of the lost revenue.

Basically, what he is doing is bringing a version of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) to Wisconsin.  As the gentle reader might remember, TABOR started in Colorado in 1992, when the Teapublicans ran the place.  There were cries that taxes were too high, that the public sector workers were making too much money, yada, yada, yada.

Things got so bad that Coloradans voted to give themselves a five year reprieve from it, but thanks to the Great Repression and other factors, the time was too short to recover from the damage done.

Per the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there are some main reasons why TABOR, which uses a population-plus-inflation formula, was such a failure:
Here’s why the population-plus-inflation formula doesn’t work:
  • Population.  The segments of the population requiring the most state services, such as senior citizens and children, often expand more rapidly than the population as a whole.  In Florida, for example (which recently defeated a TABOR measure), the total population is projected to grow by 27 percent from 2010 to 2030, while the 65-and-older population is projected to grow three times as fast, by 87 percent.
  • Inflation.  The inflation measure that TABOR proposals use — the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s “Consumer Price Index-All Urban Consumers” (CPI-U) — is not an accurate measure of the cost of providing state services.  It gauges changes in the cost of goods and services that individual consumers buy, like housing,
  • transportation, and food, rather than the services that state governments pay for, like education and health care.  The cost of providing public services grows much faster than the general rate of inflation for consumer goods, in part because public services are less likely to reap the efficiency and productivity gains achieved by other sectors of the economy.  For example, teachers can only teach so many students, and nurses can only care for so many patients.
Under a TABOR, therefore, a state can maintain health and other services for the elderly (or expand them to meet growing need) only by cutting other areas of the budget, such as education.
Per the Center, the effects on Colorado weren't as advertised either:
Colorado’s national rankings on a number of public services plummeted under TABOR.  For example:
  • Colorado fell from 35th to 49th in the nation in K-12 spending as a percentage of personal income.
  • College and university funding as a share of personal income declined from 35th in the nation to 48th.
  • Colorado fell to near the bottom of national rankings in providing children with full, on-time vaccinations.
The share of low-income children in the state who lacked health insurance doubled, making Colorado the worst in the nation by this measure.

In addition, TABOR failed to improve Colorado’s business climate or economy, contrary to the predictions of its supporters.  Instead it contributed to a credit rating downgrade and alarmed business leaders by undermining the state’s ability to invest in its basic infrastructure and workforce.

Tom Clark, Executive Vice President of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, stated, “For businesses to be successful, you need roads and you need higher education, both of which have gotten worse under TABOR and will continue to get worse.”  Similarly, Gail Klapper, director of the Colorado Forum (an organization of 60 of the state’s leading CEOs), said, “The business community has said this is not good for business, and this is not good for Colorado.”
To bring the point home on how this might affect the gentle reader on a day to day business, I would refer you to this article from three years ago which outlines some of the things that Walker's hometown of Colorado Springs, Colorado is facing due to similar acts of austerity:
This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won't pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.
Walker, with the aid of his fellow corporate-owned Teapublicans won't be happy until they have driven this state all the way into the ground.  The only hope to stop further damage from being done and maybe even reversing some of the damage which has been done is to remove the ALEC-belonging, money-grubbing, corporate-owned Teapublicans and replace them with people who will look out for the best interest of the state and its citizens.

And we already know that we can't count on anyone but ourselves to do this.  Are you ready?


  1. Tabor was an actual person - at one time he was the wealthiest person in the U.S. He was a silver king and lived in Leadville. (
    So, the TABOR act is actually a Coloradan pun - a Republican specialty meant to pluck the heartstrings of people especially if they don't understand the bill. So, voting for the TABOR bill was voting for Colorado's "history" in a sense. I remember that vote, I was there and it was horrible. Much like I'm here and Walker is horrible. We left Colorado to get away from the Republican craziness in the 90's.

  2. Walker and this batch of Republicans are worse than imaginable.

  3. What is the following statement in the article based on?:....
    One of the things that we are aware of is that Walker is again going to cut shared revenue to the counties and municipalities.