Scott Walker, serial flip-flopper and demonic Governor now sits with the 2 year Wisconsin state budget on his desk awaiting his signature and mighty veto pen. His veto power is the most massive in the country, but he will barely use it because the budget is nearly imploding under the weight of all the non-budgetary policy items he and his fellow Republicans have crammed into it.
In his 2010 campaign for Governor, Walker attacked previous Governors for inserting policy items into the must-pass budget. He promised to never do it if he was Governor.
Like all Walker promises, it was made not just to be broken, but to completely reversed and placed on its head. Instead of never doing it, Walker has become the master of using it for every single policy position he wants to insert or change without debate, discussion, public input or a legislative vote. But this year it's loaded with so many cringe-worthy items, even our lousy, corporate, Walker-loving media have started to pay some attention to the biggest outrages.
...there's another problem with this budget: It's so full of non-budget dead weight that it's kind of amazing it doesn't just sink of its own accord.
On their own, many of these items are worthy of discussion and may be even worthy of passage. But most are policy matters that have little or nothing to do with the state's fiscal books. They deserve full and separate consideration — including public hearings and a healthy public debate — before they become law. Instead, they've been quietly inserted into the budget, often in the wee hours, to avoid public scrutiny. Citizens should demand they be removed from the budget; legislators should have the decency to do so.
Changing the Mission of the University of Wisconsin And Other UW Changes
One of the first non-budgetary items found in the 1800 page budget was Scott Walkers attempt to change the mission of the University of Wisconsin by making it subservient to business needs and removing the Wisconsin Idea, which included the university as a source to serve the higher education needs of Wisconsinites and search for the truth.
When that tidbit was uncovered, the Walker administration fumbled by declaring the insertion a "drafting error" and later blaming it on shoddy work by an intern. When our national media reacted to the flimsy lies, Walker withdrew the changes from the budget, but continues to refuse to release any documents concerning the change (there's a lawsuit demanding the release of those records).
On top of $300 million in additional budget cuts and extending the freeze on raising tuition, Walker used the budget to change other aspects of the University of Wisconsin including less input from faculty on the selection of future chancellors, eliminating tenure, and making the deepest budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin - Madison and Milwaukee campuses.
Educated people tend not to swallow Republican bullshit making schools and universities targets for GOP assaults.
Gutting Open Records Laws
Wisconsin has one of the most robust open records laws in the nation. So, when you have everything to hide like Scott Walker, open records laws become a problem. Of course the must-pass budget is an excellent place to hide your plans for gutting that law.
When discovered, media hammered hard because, naturally, access to records affects them personally. Just like Republicans, problems don't seem to exist unless one is personally affected and then it's a HUGE problem accompanies by whining on why no one has fixed the problem.
What was really bad about this one is that it was crammed in about midnight with other changes (called Motion 999) in the final moments before final budget passage on a party line vote in the Joint Finance Committee. No debate, no discussion, just shaddup and vote.
This one caused Republicans some heartburn as they were questioned about the measure that creates secrecy. However, Republicans refused to answer where the proposal came from and later review showed the trail led to Governor Walkers' office.
Eliminating "Living Wage" Language
Scott Walker is a guy who doesn't think there should even be a minimum wage and he's a bit miffed at Wisconsin Jobs Now quoting the parts of Wisconsin Law that call for a "living wage" in their quest for a statewide minimum wage raise. So, what better way to end the conversation than to insert a non-budget item into the budget to get rid of that pesky "living wage" language.
If it's not in the law anymore, he figures nobody can bother him about it. Right? Riiiiight!