Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Tony Evers

Evers Administration Sues

The liberals won the Supreme Court election and the election is over. Time for them to launch a barrage of lawsuits in the hope that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has shifted Left.

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul sued state lawmakers Monday, bringing a new challenge to a set of lame-duck laws Republicans passed two years ago to curb their powers.

The latest case focuses on a requirement that the Legislature’s budget committee sign off on some court settlements negotiated by Kaul.

Evers and Kaul argue that the policy violates the state constitution’s separation-of-powers doctrine, which spells out what authorities belong to the executive and legislative branches of government.

With the lawsuit, the state’s top two Democrats are trying to resolve an issue that has remained elusive during the first half of their terms in office.

In a ruling this summer, the state Supreme Court found the settlement provision does not violate the state constitution in all situations but left open the possibility that it might some of the time. The new, narrower lawsuit asks the high court to rule that two classes of cases should be exempt from the requirement to get approval from lawmakers.

On the merits, the law does not appear to violate the separation of powers. In fact, the law is a long-overdue legislative oversight that I hope remains in place for future Republican Attorneys General too. Some state AGs have used their power to shake down companies for settlements that can then be doled out to political favorites by the administration in power. A little oversight and discussion with the legislature is not an undue burden. It is, however, a prudent exercise of the legislative branch to oversee the collection and disbursement of settlement that often total millions of dollars.

Tyrant Tony Extends Illegal Order

It’s not about whether it is a good idea or not. It’s about the fact that we do not permit a single man to have this much power over us.

The Democratic governor announced during one of his bi-weekly COVID-19 media briefings that his statewide mask mandate has been extended until January of next year, and that he is issuing a new public health emergency this week.

The current public health emergency was set to expire this Saturday.

“It’s clear based on where we’re at that that we cannot afford to stop or have a gap in some of the only mitigation efforts we still have in place,” Evers said.

Emergency Order No. 1 will also be re-issued, Evers said, which requires face covering in public places.

Court Orders Evers to Surrender Emails

Governor Evers has been flagrantly violating the Open Records Laws. This is not the first example. It won’t be the last. He shuns oversight by the people.

After a year-long battle over Governor Tony Evers’ emails, a Dane County Circuit Court judge ruled this week in FOX6’s favor.

In September 2019, FOX6 requested just over four weeks of emails to and from Governor Tony Evers and his chief of staff, Maggie Gau. FOX6 regularly conducts open records spot checks on public employees’ emails. A recent spot check on two weeks of state lawmakers’ emails uncovered the practice of using personal email addresses to communicate about sensitive government information.

The governor’s assistant legal counsel Erin Deeley denied the request and FOX6’s subsequent attempt to narrow the request to emails from one week.

Finally, FOX6 asked for just Governor Evers’ emails from just one day – June 14, 2019. The request was denied. Governor Evers’ attorney said all email requests will be denied if they do not contain search terms or wording she can turn into search terms. That is, requests for emails about the budget or containing the word “agriculture,” for example, may be processed; requests for all emails over a specific time frame, no matter how short, will be denied. In other words, the requesters need to know what’s in the public records before they can see the public records.

Evers’ DWD Already Behind as it Awaits Onrush of New Unemployment Claims

The evidence is clear that Evers’ DWD failed to prepare for the onrush of unemployment claims when he closed the state in March. It took them weeks to begin reacting and months to get new people in place to handle the load. Based on the stonewalling by the Evers’ administration below, I highly doubt that he took any proactive steps to shore up the DWD when he issued his new order restricting restaurant capacity. There are a lot of cooks, servers, and other staff that will be looking for help from the DWD. Will they be able to get it?

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development says it’s made significant progress processing unemployment claims. But tens of thousands of claims are still waiting to be processed while people struggled to get by.

[…]

However this week, the Department of Workforce Development announced progress. It says about 91 percent of claims have been processed, but that still leaves more than 80,000 people waiting for their money.

[…]

And now, as COVID-19 cases surge, Gov. Evers issued a new executive order limiting stores, restaurants and other businesses to 25 percent capacity. That could lead to a new unemployment spike.

CBS 58 Investigates asked DWD if it’s ready but they did not return calls or emails for comment.

During a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Evers said he’s confident they can handle it.

“We are in the last couple of weeks, we have made significant changes within the process of issuing money to claimants on unemployment insurance,” Gov. Evers said.

We asked the governor’s office for specifics about those changes and details about the plan to prevent another backlog. We didn’t hear back.

Evers Tries to Stem Economic Recovery

Once again, our governor issues decrees from his mansion for his subjects to follow.

As COVID-19 cases continue surging in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers’ top health official Tuesday unveiled a new statewide order capping indoor public gatherings at certain businesses.

The move comes as the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday again rose over 2,000 after two days below that threshold, and as hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients reached a record 782 on Monday.

[…]

Under the order, effective Thursday at 8 a.m., indoor public gatherings of more than 25% of a room or building’s total occupancy are banned. That includes gatherings at stores, restaurants, bars or other businesses that allow members of the public to enter.

The order doesn’t shut down businesses or govern outdoor spaces controlled by businesses. It also doesn’t apply to schools, governmental spaces, offices, manufacturing plants and other facilities only accessible by employees, nor is it enforceable for any events where protected speech is occurring, such as indoor political rallies, protests or religious gatherings.

Evers’ DWD failed Wisconsin

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:

In response to the disgraceful management of the Unemployment Insurance program by the Department of Workforce Development, the nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau audited the response and performance of the state’s call centers. The audit uncovered the exact kinds of lethargy, indifference, and poor leadership that confirm the worst stereotypes of government bureaucracy.

The scale of the problem the DWD faced was real and unprecedented. Governor Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12, closed schools on March 13, and after ratcheting down public gatherings, ordered everyone home on March 24. The governor’s order shuttered most businesses in the state and forced hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites out of work. Evers caused an unprecedented rush of people filing unemployment claims.

In 2019, an average of 4,700 Wisconsinites per week filed an initial unemployment claim. The DWD’s UI call center took about 6,300 calls per week. According to the DWD, 93.4% of initial claims were filed online with only 6.6% being filed through the call centers. The DWD UI call center had a staff of 90 employees.

Beginning the week of March 15, the number of initial claims skyrocketed. It peaked the week of March 22 with 116,129 initial claims filed and was half that by the week of April 5. The DWD call centers received 1.4 million calls the week of March 22 and almost 6 million calls the week of April 12. All told, there were 41.1 million calls made to the DWD call centers between March 15 and June 30. Of those, 93.3% were blocked or received a busy signal; 6.2% of callers got through but hung up before being answered; and only 0.5% of calls were answered.

The DWD woefully underreported the extent of the problem to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. The DWD reported the number of calls blocked, abandoned, and answered. The calls it reported as “blocked” were calls that reached the system and the caller was told to call later and disconnected. They did not report the number of callers who just received a busy signal. In doing so, the DWD failed to report 75% of the calls that were unable to reach the call centers.

When challenges arise, leaders rise. Unfortunately, there were not any to be found at the DWD or in the governor’s mansion.

It is important to follow the dates. On March 31, two weeks after Evers declared a public health emergency, DWD began increasing the staff of its call centers. By the end of April, six weeks after the emergency declaration, they had added four employees. A month later, they had added a total of 37 employees. By the end of July — a full 20 weeks after the emergency declaration — they had added a total of 98 employees. Meanwhile, Wisconsinites continued to get busy signals and wait for checks that never came.

One would think that the DWD employees were burning the midnight oil to help their fellow citizens in these unprecedented times, right? Wrong. From March 15 to July 31, while hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites were unemployed and looking for help, DWD call center workers worked a scant average of 1.6 hours of overtime per week. The call center was only open for 39.58 hours per week until May 20 before they began expanding hours slightly.

The DWD also dragged its feet to contract with outside call centers. Again, the dates are important. The governor declared a state public health emergency on March 12. On April 9, DWD began the process by requesting approval from the Department of Administration to waive a competitive bidding process. The DOA gave approval on April 16 and on April 20, the DWD requested bids. It awarded the contract to Alorica on May 7 — eight weeks after the emergency declaration.

As Alorica call center took several weeks to ramp up to capacity, the DWD did not require that they provide any information about the actual effectiveness of the call centers. The DWD has no idea if they were able to actually resolve the callers’ issues after the initial call. More calls were finally being answered, but nobody is certain to what effect.

If Wisconsin had a competent governor with a competent administration, they would have anticipated the rush of Wisconsinites seeking to file unemployment claims when they effectively shut down the state’s economy. They would have aggressively worked to expand the capacity of the DWD UI staff, expanded hours, worked overtime, accelerated outsourcing, and done everything possible to serve Wisconsinites who were forced out of work due to government action. Instead, the governor, DWD secretary, and agency bureaucrats plodded along at government speed while unemployed Wisconsinites waited and worried.

Governor Evers forced his DWD secretary to resign as the administration’s scapegoat, but he should take a hard look in the mirror and ask why his administration failed precisely when so many Wisconsinites needed it most.

Evers’ DWD failed Wisconsin

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

Beginning the week of March 15, the number of initial claims skyrocketed. It peaked the week of March 22 with 116,129 initial claims filed and was half that by the week of April 5. The DWD call centers received 1.4 million calls the week of March 22 and almost 6 million calls the week of April 12. All told, there were 41.1 million calls made to the DWD call centers between March 15 and June 30. Of those, 93.3% were blocked or received a busy signal; 6.2% of callers got through but hung up before being answered; and only 0.5% of calls were answered.

The DWD woefully underreported the extent of the problem to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. The DWD reported the number of calls blocked, abandoned, and answered. The calls it reported as “blocked” were calls that reached the system and the caller was told to call later and disconnected. They did not report the number of callers who just received a busy signal. In doing so, the DWD failed to report 75% of the calls that were unable to reach the call centers.

When challenges arise, leaders rise. Unfortunately, there were not any to be found at the DWD or in the governor’s mansion.

It is important to follow the dates…

[…]

If Wisconsin had a competent governor with a competent administration, they would have anticipated the rush of Wisconsinites seeking to file unemployment claims when they effectively shut down the state’s economy. They would have aggressively worked to expand the capacity of the DWD UI staff, expanded hours, worked overtime, accelerated outsourcing, and done everything possible to serve Wisconsinites who were forced out of work due to government action. Instead, the governor, DWD secretary, and agency bureaucrats plodded along at government speed while unemployed Wisconsinites waited and worried.

Governor Evers forced his DWD secretary to resign as the administration’s scapegoat, but he should take a hard look in the mirror and ask why his administration failed precisely when so many Wisconsinites needed it most.

 

Evers Extends Illegal Mask Mandate

And here it is

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers issued a new public health emergency on Tuesday to extend the statewide mask mandate by 60 days as cases of coronavirus accelerate around the state.

The move comes after infections among college-aged adults have skyrocketed now that campuses are open for the fall semester.

Overall, the state is seeing some of the highest rates of infection in the country. Nearly 7,000 positive tests were reported Thursday, Friday and Saturday — the most reported over any three-day period in Wisconsin. On Friday, a single-day record of 2,533 new cases was reported.

[…]

Evers issued the first health emergency in March and the second in July. That order expires on Monday and Republican legislative leaders haven’t said whether they will extend it and have made no moves to do so. Once it expires, so does the statewide mask mandate. The new mandate extends to Nov. 21.

Whither the GOP?

Evers wants to extend illegal mask mandate

My column for the Washington County Daily News in online and in print. When it comes to the mask mandate, Governor Evers is wrong on the law and wrong on the science.

Governor Tony Evers’ illegal order that all Wisconsinites wear face masks is set to expire on September 28 and he covets an extension of his despotic rule. Any extension of the order would not only be the third intentionally illegal power grab by the governor through emergency declarations, but it would be an admission that his actions are not rooted in science or data. Evers’ emergency orders are about power — not people.

[…]

If you think that a governor creating a permanent state of emergency where he issues arbitrary orders at his sole discretion is an acceptable way to govern, then the governor should at least be able to explain why the order is necessary and will work. The evidence is clear that the current mask mandate has not had any impact on the spread of coronavirus.

Evers Threatens to Extend Illegal Order

Typical.

Evers issued the statewide mask mandate on July 30, using a power in state law that lets governors declare public health emergencies for up to 60 days. Evers used the same law to issue another 60-day emergency in March during the early days of the pandemic.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit over the mandate in late August, arguing that it was unlawful for Evers to declare multiple emergencies for the same event. That lawsuit is ongoing.

“We will fight we will fight every step of the way to make sure that this one small thing that everybody can do remains in place until we’re told that the numbers are down,” Evers said in a discussion that was broadcast by the Wisconsin Eye public affairs network.

Evers’ current order is set to expire on Sept. 28 unless it’s rescinded before then by the governor, the Legislature or a court order. But Evers gave no indication that he would rescind the masking order himself, and he didn’t rule out extending it.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there whether we extend it or not,” Evers said.

Once again, the issue is not whether mandating masks is the correct course of action or not. The issue is whether we are going to allow a single man to utterly ignore our system of representative government and issue arbitrary orders from his mansion in Madison. If he can order a mask, he could also order that we all wear hats, or be clean shaven so that the masks fit, or carry guns because there are riots, or whatever. The issue is whether or not we should live under the arbitrary rule of a single man or return to a republican form of government.

As for the effectiveness of a mask mandate, help me reconcile this.

Since the order, cases have gone up:

But deaths and hospitalizations are steady:

 

So since Evers ordered that everyone wear masks, cases are spiking, but deaths and hospitalizations remain flat. If the purpose of masks are to stop the spread of the Rona, shouldn’t we see the positive impact in the number of cases? We are not. We are seeing the opposite.

The reason is that the rise in cases is being driven completely by people aged 18-24.

This is because of all of the college kids who went back to school. Not only are they spreading it around a bit, but they are being tested like crazy. The more you test, the more you will find. But clearly, many of the kids have few, if any symptoms, and they are recovering fine without hospital intervention. Also bear in mind that almost all state colleges are rigorously enforcing the mask mandate.

If there is absolutely no evidence that the mask mandate is actually mitigating the spread of disease, why would the governor consider extending it? Aren’t we supposed to follow the science? Is is this not really about the science or fighting the pandemic?

Recall Evers at election time

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week:

Governor Tony Evers is proving to be one of the most partisan, nasty, incompetent governors in modern history. Our state is worse off for him having been elected. But we elected him, and he is our governor for at least the next 28 long, long months. The burgeoning attempt to recall the governor, while well-intentioned, is an affront to our system of government and social contract. We elected him. Barring something criminal, we are stuck with him, and that is as it should be.

This is certainly not the first time that Wisconsinites have attempted to recall a governor. In fact, there have been attempts to recall the last two governors. In 2009, after almost two terms of lies and sleaze from Governor Jim Doyle, an intrepid band of earnest citizens attempted to recall the governor. The ill-fated attempt ended as it should have, in failure, and Governor Doyle announced his decision to decline to seek re-election three months later.

Of course, with the taste of recall blood in the water, the liberals in Wisconsin tried the same tactic to remove Governor Scott Walker two years later. They were upset that Governor Walker had the temerity to champion public policies with which they disagreed. They were successful in collecting enough signatures to trigger a recall election and proceeded to rend the political and social fabric of Wisconsin for the better part of a decade.

The process to recall an elected official exists for the citizens to remove a politician who has so abused the public trust that he or she must not be permitted to finish the term. There is no legal or official standard for what action, or lack thereof, defines the threshold for the recall of an elected official, but prudence and respect for representative government demands an extraordinary standard. In the case of Governor Evers, that standard has not been met. It is true that he advocates for policies that are destructive to Wisconsin. It is true that Evers is foul-mouthed, unprofessional, and duplicitous in his dealings with people who do not agree with him. It is true that he is feckless and makes poor decisions when responding to emergencies that afflict our state. It is true that Evers lacks the interpersonal skills to compromise or find common ground. He is a case study for the Peter Principle. All of that is true, but Governor Evers has not done anything for which he deserves to be recalled. He is just a bad governor.

The problem with a recall is that it destabilizes our political system by challenging the will of the people. It is like the people saying, “Yeah, we elected him, but we changed our minds.” The uncertainty that the attempted recall of a governor creates ripples through the state. It roils the electorate and unsettles the economy. The stability of our political system relies on the orderly transition of power and the relative certainty of regularly scheduled elections. The whipsaw of reactive recall elections subverts that stability and risks roiling our state in perpetual turmoil.

The thing with Governor Evers is that his incompetence, dishonesty, poor social skills, and laziness were on full display before the voters elected him. It was obvious to anyone looking. But in a fit of cantankerousness, the good people of Wisconsin elected him anyway. As the old saw goes, elections have consequences.

The frustration that some people are feeling over our governor is a healthy reminder that elections have consequences. The governor is not a boorish house guest that can be shown the door when his behavior becomes too much. We invited him to stay the night and we are stuck with him until morning.

We choose our elected leaders during orderly, regularly scheduled elections. That is where we must spend our time, money, and energy. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Good choices during an election prevent the damage bad choices inflict. Recalling a governor should be reserved for only the most egregious and criminal of transgressions.

Focus on the elections. They matter.

Recall Evers at election time

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

Governor Tony Evers is proving to be one of the most partisan, nasty, incompetent governors in modern history. Our state is worse off for him having been elected. But we elected him, and he is our governor for at least the next 28 long, long months. The burgeoning attempt to recall the governor, while well-intentioned, is an affront to our system of government and social contract. We elected him. Barring something criminal, we are stuck with him, and that is as it should be.

[…]

The thing with Governor Evers is that his incompetence, dishonesty, poor social skills, and laziness were on full display before the voters elected him. It was obvious to anyone looking. But in a fit of cantankerousness, the good people of Wisconsin elected him anyway. As the old saw goes, elections have consequences.

The frustration that some people are feeling over our governor is a healthy reminder that elections have consequences. The governor is not a boorish house guest that can be shown the door when his behavior becomes too much. We invited him to stay the night and we are stuck with him until morning.

We choose our elected leaders during orderly, regularly scheduled elections. That is where we must spend our time, money, and energy. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Good choices during an election prevent the damage bad choices inflict. Recalling a governor should be reserved for only the most egregious and criminal of transgressions.

Focus on the elections. They matter.

Evers Labels Opposition to Unconstitutional Abuse of Power “Partisanship”

Have you noticed how totalitarians label any opposition to their illegal machinations as “partisanship?” It is as if we peons are not allowed to have an opinion about our oppressors.

Gov. Tony Evers said public health shouldn’t be a partisan issue, in response to a lawsuit filed last week by a conservative advocacy group that seeks to challenge his latest emergency declaration and mask mandate.

His remarks came as state health officials confirmed 727 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

“Science should not be a partisan issue, and a county-by-county piecemeal approach to the pandemic wasn’t working,” said Evers in a DHS briefing. “Our numbers continue to rise, families continue to lose loved ones, and we’ve reached record daily increases of positive cases, day after day.”

Evers Uses Taxpayer Funds for Politics

Notice the title? “Democrats.” Not “taxpayers.” Not “citizens of Wisconsin.” Not even “State Government.” Nope. “Democrats.” Evers is treating a legitimate act of government relief as if it is due to the generosity of Democrats instead of the generosity of all taxpayers.

Gov. Evers, Democrats, WEDC Announce Up to $1 Million in Nointerest Loans Authorized to Assist Kenosha Businesses

Eligible costs include clean-up, restoration, and repairs for businesses affected

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, together with Sen. Bob Wirch, Reps. Tod Ohnstad and Tip McGuire, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), announced today businesses that suffered damage in Kenosha over the last week will be eligible for up to $20,000 each in no-interest loans to help cover repair costs.

Evers Asks Trump to Not Come

Judging by their actions, it appears that President Trump cares more about the good people of Kenosha than Governor Evers does. Evers encouraged the rioters while Trump offered help.

Gov. Tony Evers on Sunday sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking the president to reconsider his plan to visit Kenosha on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Trump said the president plans to meet with local law enforcement and survey damage from recent demonstrations.

In Evers’ letter to Trump, the Democratic governor said Kenosha residents are “exhausted and heartbroken with the division that has ripped apart their community, but they are also already working to rebuild, together, and support each other in the face of adversity.”

“It is our job as elected officials to lead by example and to be a calming presence for the people we know are hurting, mourning, and trying to cope with trauma,” Evers said in the letter. “Now is not the time for divisiveness. Now is not the time for elected officials to ignore armed militants and out-of-state instigators who want to contribute to our anguish.”

Governor Evers Politicizes Killing of Black Man in Kenosha

Shame on him. The governor is fanning the flames of violence for political gain.

A Wisconsin county has again declared an emergency curfew following a night of protests over a video that appeared to show police officers firing several shots at close range into a Black man’s back Sunday night.

The curfew will be in effect from 8 p.m. Monday night until 7 a.m.Tuesday, according to the Kenosha Police Department. The Wisconsin National Guard was headed to Kenosha on Monday, according to the Kenosha News.

The state Department of Justice is investigating after officers from the department responding to a domestic incident shortly after 5 p.m. “were involved in an officer involved shooting,” according to a news release.

The man who was shot, identified by Gov. Tony Evers as Jacob Blake, was airlifted to a Milwaukee hospital in serious condition as of early Monday, police said. Tyrone Muhammad, a member of the group Ex-Cons for Community and social change, said Blake’s father told him Blake was out of surgery and was expected to survive.

On Twitter, Evers said he and his wife are hoping for Blake’s recovery.

“While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country,” Evers wrote on Twitter.

[…]

Evers is calling lawmakers into session to take action on a package of bills aimed at reducing the prevalence of police brutality a day after Blake was shot. The move would ban police chokeholds and no-knock search warrants and make it harder for overly aggressive officers to move from one job to another.

Like most people, I look at the video and have some serious questions. I don’t know why non-lethal force was not used first. I question why they shot him when he was moving away. I wonder what happened before the video started. But I also understand that the police were responding to a domestic call, thought he had a gun, and perhaps thought that the kids were in danger.

We. Don’t. Know. What we do know is that a thorough investigation should be done to find out the facts. And if the police are found to have acted illegally, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But if they are found to have acted appropriately, then we should laud their actions while lamenting the sad results.

But before we even know the facts, the governor is out with a statement intimating that it was an unjustified shooting by racist police. His statement gave tacit permission for rioters to burn down Kenosha. And he has called a special session to pass a bunch of bills that have nothing whatsoever to do with this shooting. But since the bills are about police brutality, the governor is sending the message that he thinks this shooting is the result of racist, brutal police.

Governor Evers’ actions are repugnant and they have endangered the lives, health, and property of all Wisconsinites.

Evers Insists that Trump Wear Mask While In Wisconsin

Yeah, good luck with that.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, a bus promoting Women for Trump, and possibly other supporters of the president are all scheduled to campaign in Wisconsin next week. However, the presumptive Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will make their remarks to the Democratic National Convention from elsewhere due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has a message for the visiting Republicans about limiting the spread of COVID-19

“They have to wear a mask if they’re in buildings. They have to make sure their audience is physically distant from each other. We can’t afford to have these events make it more difficult for us to prevent the virus from being transmitted in the state of Wisconsin,” Evers said. “My expectation is they’re masking up. They’re going to follow the order.”

The Tyrant Evers Returns

Boy howdy… I step away from the computer for 36 hours or so and all hell breaks loose. Let’s hope that the legislature will reign in our banal tyrant.

Less than 24 hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced a statewide mask order for Wisconsin, Republicans in the state Senate have signaled they have the votes to begin the process of striking it down.

In a statement Friday, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Senate Republicans “stand ready to convene the body to end the Governor’s order, which includes the mask mandate.”

“The Governor has caved to the pressure of liberal groups on this,” Fitzgerald said. “How can we trust that the he won’t cave again and stop schools that choose in-person instruction this fall? There are bigger issues at play here, and my caucus members stand ready to fight back.”

[…]

Announced Thursday, the state mask order goes into effect Saturday.

Under the new order, which expires Sept. 28, everyone age 5 and older must wear a face covering when indoors or in any enclosed space open to the public including outdoor bars and restaurants, public transit and outdoor park structures. The order does not apply to people in their private residences.

State needs leadership to navigate budget shortfall

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week:

Gov. Tony Evers is calling on state agencies to cut $250 million from their budgets as state tax collections decline with the state’s economy. Already, various interest groups are making the case for why their piece of the pie should be excluded from budget cuts and the lobbyists are out in full force. The next several months are going to require real leadership.

When Governor Evers shut down the state’s economy with his original lockdown order, he also turned off the tax spigot for state government. Without people able to go to stores, restaurants, concerts, etc., the collections of sales taxes plummeted. Collection of the sales tax requires people to spend money in our economy. People were forbidden to shop, but many people also pulled back their personal spending as their own jobs and incomes were impacted. Even as the state opened, the job losses, reduced incomes, and uncertainty has depressed consumer spending and sales tax collections.

Like the federal government, the state of Wisconsin also delayed the income tax filing deadline to July 15. This had the practical effect that many people who were expecting refunds filed earlier than those who expected to pay, causing further strain on state tax flow. But the real impact on income taxes will not be felt until next year. 2019 was a bumper year for personal incomes and employment. 2020 is not.

The state sales and income taxes are the two largest sources of state tax revenue, but there are countless other taxes and fees that are being impacted by the government-imposed recession. The net result is that Governor Evers is anticipating at least a $2 billion shortfall in state tax collections over the next year. The governor’s estimate may be decidedly optimistic.

To put that in perspective, the state government planned to spend about $41 billion in this fiscal year. A $2 billion shortfall would represent about a 5% reduction. However, much of that spending goes to things like welfare, K-12 education, shared revenue for municipalities, the University of Wisconsin System, and things that are not under the direct control of state government officials.

Here is where the leadership comes in. Governor Evers has called on state agencies to cut $250 million from their budgets. As you may have noticed, $250 million is merely a down payment on the cuts that will be necessary to finish the fiscal year without a massive deficit. More cuts will be needed.

If there is one thing that any good manager knows, it is that small changes made now prevent much larger changes being necessary later. The governor has already waited too long. We knew that there would be huge budgetary implications when he locked down the state. Here we are at the end of July and he is just now asking agencies for their ideas? How long will that take for the agencies to submit their revised budgets, vet them, and implement them? Weeks? Months? The longer the governor sits around waiting to make changes, the more drastic those changes are going to have to be.

For example, the state of Wisconsin employs about 65,000 employees, including employees of the UW System, earning a median income of about $52,000. If Wisconsin implemented a 10% pay reduction for all state employees, it would save the taxpayers roughly $28 million per month. Private employers have been forced to implement such cuts and worse. In this case, it would be a 10% cut in pay and everyone keeps their jobs. Many private-sector employees, and taxpayers, fared much, much worse.

If Governor Evers had implemented a universal 10% cut in March, when he implemented his lockdown order, the state would have already saved over $112 million – almost half of what he is asking state agencies for not. That is $112 million that that will still have to be cut before the fiscal year is over, but because Governor Evers has failed to act, it will hurt a lot more.

Every day that state leaders sit around waiting for to make decisions, those decisions will be dictated to them by events. Wisconsin needs leadership. Now.

 

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