Not a budget fan
I watched Scott Walker deliver his budget message last week with a feeling of admiration. It was a masterful speech, well delivered, with many human props to demonstrate sincerity and concern.
If I had not had some understanding of the historic and policy context of his recommendations, I would have felt the need to support him. Fortunately, I had a bit of that context. You should, too, as you consider some of the points he made:
• He proudly said that he has turned Wisconsin around and cited several business publications that ranked Wisconsin higher as a place to do business than it was earlier. But Wisconsin’s economy has been ranked the second worst in the nation. We are 42nd in job creation. Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa all have higher per capita incomes, and that gap has been widening. If he has turned Wisconsin around, it was in the wrong direction.
• Every child should have access to a quality education, and the governor said his budget invests in education. But, The Governor’s first budget cut funding for K–12 education by nearly $800 million, or 7.1 percent. Under his recommendations in the upcoming budget, school districts would have to live with almost exactly the same level of funding as they are in fiscal year 2013. Increased funding is targeted largely for charter schools — non-public schools with none of the rules, standards or accountability of public schools.
• Post-secondary education is a key to future job growth. We have to have people trained for the jobs for tomorrow. But the amounts the governor would add to the vocational schools system and the university system are pocket change compared to what was cut in his first budget.
• Wisconsin residents will be protected from government dependence in health care. This will be achieved by (1) adjusting the threshold for BadgerCare (Medicaid) downward from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 100 percent, (2) rejecting federal Affordable Care Act funding to expand BadgerCare, and (3) putting more low-income people into the health insurance exchanges. But by rejecting the federal funds, 190,000 Wisconsinites who might have had health insurance will not have it.
Gov. Walker has refused to establish the health insurance exchanges. He promises that insurance will be available from the federally established exchanges for a little as $19 per month. Let’s get real about the costs. The least expensive health insurance policy available to state employees, a benefit that the governor enjoys, is $561 per month for a single person and $1,398 per month for family coverage. This is a hoax that will cost the people of this area dearly.
• A solid transportation system is essential to the state’s economic health. The budget recommendations contain additional funding for transportation. But it is largely from debt. It is targeted to several megaprojects. The additional funds will do nothing to improve rural state, country or local roads in the short term. In the long term, increased debt service costs will harm the quality of the transportation system.
• You deserve to get your money back when the state has a surplus. The budget contains an income tax cut for individuals and businesses. But the average taxpayer can expect an additional $2 per week in their paycheck. This is enough for a large cup of coffee, if you buy it at a service station. Moreover, the “surplus” assumes reasonable economic growth over the next year. If that growth is less than predicted, we will be back to the deficit-fixing mode.
The budget will do nothing for people of moderate and low income in Wisconsin. It will do actual harm. It clearly demonstrates the governor’s distorted priorities: Provide meaninglessly small tax cuts rather than investing in those things like education, health care or transportation that benefit real people.
‘Lying is a sin’
I have learned to keep my mouth shut through some of my life experience. However, after reading the Armin Wand front-page story Feb. 20 and another recent court case finding, I find it hard to contain myself.
The story says that Armin Wand’s defense witness claims Mr. Wand’s IQ is 67. There was also a reference to a statement made that Wand would have to stand in judgment to God for what he did by Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent James Sielehr. Green County Circuit Judge Thomas Vale claimed Sielehr’s statements confused Wand.
I am very sorry, but God’s word is very simple — simple enough that my five-year-old child understands we are accountable to God for our sins. Lying is a sin.
I would be more encouraged to help a person who was telling the truth. There is also a difference between worldly help and Biblical help. No wheeling and dealing by a lawyer or any under-the-table deals will save anyone from eternal judgment, nor the smartest or the least smart.
There are, however, very serious warnings in the Bible for special groups of people. Such warnings include “Woe to the rich … advisors … and lawyers.” For instance, Luke 11:52 says, “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”
I do not know Mr. Sielehr or his intentions. But he is right, because even Armin Wand can be helped, if he confessed his sin. We as a nation would do better in our courts, schools and community if we prayed the same prayer George Washington prayed at Valley Forge — 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Monica L. Wedig
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