Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

Monetary Hijinks

First it was collective bargaining, selling power plants on no-bid contracts, limiting BadgerCare, etc, etc. Now, it’s the small, self-supporting State Life Insurance program:

In 2010, the State Life Fund sold 146 new policies with $69,000 in new premiums. The plan is totally self-supporting and continually runs a surplus. It requires no extra workers in the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. It’s a good deal for young families who want to have at least a little life insurance protection. Some cash in their policies and use the cash value to help pay for their children’s college. Older folks are known to purchase a policy to cover funeral expenses.

Yet Walker wants to freeze it in place come July 1 and close it to further purchases.

It’s a blatant giveaway to the private insurance industry, which has long bristled at the existence of the fund, insisting that it is “socialized insurance.” It has tried without success for several decades to get it killed. The most recent attack on it came from dishonored former state Rep. Scott Jensen of Waukesha, himself an insurance industry shill. Even Tommy Thompson’s Republican administration wouldn’t go along with Jensen’s scheme to close it down.

Then it’s the damage to the State Capitol:

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 7 — which claims over 100 years of experience in painting and in the removal of adhesive tapes from the Capitol building — also weighed in on the matter today.

“After inspecting the Capitol early Friday morning, I am 100 percent confident that any so-called ‘damage’ done by community members expressing their First Amendment rights is nowhere near $7 million,” says IUPAT business manager John Jorgensen in a written statement. “This estimate is yet another gross overreach. I would like to personally offer IUPAT labor on a volunteer basis to address any alleged damage from protesters’ signs and tape during the protests.”

Then they cut incentives to quality Child Care Centers:

Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget bill would keep a key provision of a new state rating system for child care providers by paying financial bonuses to high-quality centers that care for low-income children.

However, under Walker’s proposal, the amount of those bonuses would be smaller than originally approved by legislators.

Then it’s energy initiatives:

The state has also been operating under a directive that by 2015 it reduce gasoline use by at least 50 percent from 2006 levels. Walker wants to eliminate the requirement and drop the reduction goal to 20 percent.

Along those lines, Walker wants to do away with any requirements regarding use of hybrid-electric vehicles or alternative fuels in state-owned vehicles.

The proposed budget also deletes a rule the state consider energy use in the purchase of new appliances, lighting or heating systems costing under $5,000.

As a final kicker, the bill eliminates the Small Business Environmental Council, which assists small businesses in complying with federal and state laws regulating air and water pollution.

But mostly, it’s the penny-wise and pound-foolish tactic of slashing budgets and programs:

Historically, times of fiscal stress forced states to make useful economies in programs that didn’t work or were not essential. But what’s happening in so many places now is a reckless rush to gut the parts of government that all but the most extreme libertarians support — and that truly deserve to be seen (one thinks of education and programs for poor children) as investments in the future.

And those governors doing the hard work trying to balance cutbacks and tax increases get ignored, because there’s nothing sexy about being responsible.

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