Will Wisconsin voters make their decision in the June 5 recall election based on their pocketbooks or their principles? For everyone except union organizers, that choice won’t be necessary. Wisconsin voters can cast their ballots to rebuke Democrats for an unnecessary recall as well as reward Walker for saving them a lot of money — according to a study coming out this week, as much as a billion dollars:
While a lightning rod for controversy and recall, Wisconsin’s Act 10 has paid significant dividends to taxpayers, according to a new analysis by the Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research, at Suffolk University in Boston.
Act 10, which curbed collective bargaining for most unionized public employees, in the whole has saved taxpayers more than $1 billion, according to The Economic Impacts of the Wisconsin Budget Repair Act. The study is slated for release this week by Beacon Hill Institute, a prominent free market think tank.
What the analysis found is that without the law, which in part requires covered public employees to contribute more to their benefits and holds wage increases to the rate of inflation, Badger State governments would have been forced to raise taxes or make deep job cuts to meet budget expenses.
In the end, the PEU reform saved jobs in the public sector that otherwise would have been lost, the study will show:
“The cost-saving measures prevented painful tax increases that would have damaged the state’s private economy resulting in slower job and income growth,” said Paul Bachman, BHI director of research. “Moreover, the provisions avoided further painful layoffs of school teachers and other public employees.”
Scott Walker makes that case explicitly today in a column for the Capital Times, while giving more of a 30,000-foot summary of his fiscal record:
We could not wait to make the necessary changes to the way government was run in order to bring us back from the brink of insolvency.
When I ran for governor in 2010 I made a series of bold promises to the people of Wisconsin. I told them that I would help businesses create 250,000 jobs before the end of my first term. I pledged to rein in out-of-control spending and I gave my word that I would treat the taxpayer’s money as my own.
Since I took my oath of office, I have stood by my word and made good on these promises. We have helped businesses grow and in the process created more than 33,000 new jobs in Wisconsin. We are moving in the right direction and still have work to do, but we are well on our way to meet and surpass that goal. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate, at 6.7 percent, is the lowest it has been since 2008, and people are getting back to work.
Spending has been curtailed and at the same time, without raising taxes, we have invested the largest influx of money into Medicaid in state history. We have balanced our budget and still make protecting Wisconsin’s most vulnerable a priority.
We have laid the foundation for a strong fiscal future, saving more than a billion dollars thanks to our reforms. In order to maintain the consistent growth we have seen since I have taken office, we must continue to move forward toward prosperity.
At the same time, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel makes another case altogether about Walker’s recall opponent Tom Barrett. Barrett has been bragging about lowering the rate of violent crime in Milwaukee during his tenure as mayor. However, an MJS investigative report shows that the city underreported violent crime for years — and that the rate has actually increased under Barrett:
When Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn touted the city’s fourth-straight year of falling crime in February, hundreds of beatings, stabbings and child abuse cases were missing from the count, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found.
More than 500 incidents since 2009 were misreported to the FBI as minor assaults and not included in the city’s violent crime rate, the investigation found. That tally is based on a review of cases that resulted in charges – only about one-fifth of all reported crimes.
Yet the misreported cases found in 2011 alone are enough that Flynn would have been announcing a 1.1% increase in violent crime in February, instead of a 2.3% decline from the reported 2010 numbers, which also include errors. …
At the request of the Journal Sentinel, FBI crime experts reviewed these and dozens of other incidents and confirmed that they should have been labeled as aggravated assaults. In addition to the more than 500 misreported incidents, the investigation found at least 800 more that fit the same pattern but could not be confirmed through available public records. The Journal Sentinel has submitted an open records request for those cases.
The misclassified crimes included cases where perpetrators threatened to kill victims; stabbed or cut them with knives; and beat them with canes, crowbars and hammers.
Be sure to watch the video at the link, which explains how crime should be reported to the FBI. It’s not the kind of question that Barrett wants to be answering two weeks before he makes a pitch to take over the state’s finances, especially after outside researchers verify Walker’s figures on cost savings through the PEU reforms.