Well, now that the recall campaigns have ended, the Republicans have ended their "quiet period" (you know that period before an election in which they don't tell us what they're planning to do later). According to the AP, Walker and the Republicans are planning to introduce and quickly pass a whole host of extreme right-wing candy, none that will help fix the budget. This includes the Voter Suppression Bill, which will likely pass the Assembly this week, strip collective bargaining rights, legalize concealed weapons, increase charter schools, deregulate phone companies, and end early release of prisoners. The Republicans plan to rush all of these bills through before they will likely lose their power with the recall elections this summer.
None of these bills deliver on the promises these Republicans made to us last November, those of delivering jobs and fixing the budget. The Voter Suppression Bill is conservatively estimated to cost taxpayers over $5 million to implement and then over $2 million yearly, yet it doesn't do anything - it doesn't solve any actual problems. Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen has been investigating voter fraud for years, and has only found 11 improper votes. That number of votes couldn't swing any election in Wisconsin, but besides that, the Voter Suppression Bill wouldn't have prevented any of them.
Yes, the Republicans still haven't learned their lesson from the many thousands who protested and from the recall of six senators. Even though Walker admitted under oath that stripping collective bargaining rights "doesn't save any" money, they plan on tacking the anti-collective bargaining bill to the budget if they don't get their way through the courts. I wish the media would ask them why when the Republicans tell them of this plan. Since it doesn't save Wisconsin any money, why strip rights away from our public workers?
Legalizing concealed weapons will only increase violent crime. I'll bet my life on it, and so do many police officers! I read a Journal Sentinel article that said the Milwaukee Police Department was in favor of such a bill if it provided some much needed changes when it comes to licensing and punishment. However, I don't see the logic in creating a bigger problem in order to solve other problems. Fix the holes in the system without adding new ones. I don't want to live in fear that the guy next to me at the bar is carrying a weapon. I like that we all (except for a few, e.g. law enforcement) must make our possession of weapons blatantly obvious. I won't feel more secure knowing anyone could be carrying a weapon, I'll feel less secure.
Republicans don't want to just make our cities less safe, they want to make us more dumb. Sure, charter schools can be good, but our public schools are already quite good and can be improved using less money than creating new schools. Diverting money across more school systems will only decrease the efficacy of our school systems on average. You can't reduce money in one system and expect it to improve, and you also can't expect the charter schools to be able to do any better than a public school. Let me say that another way so the point hits home. Anything a charter school can do for students, a public school can do as well. Reducing the amount of money that all of our schools get (charter schools won't be living fat either) will only reduce the effectiveness of our schools as a whole.
The effort to increase charter schools in Wisconsin just doesn't have any logic to it. The only "selling point" of charter schools with any relevancy is that they can be a bed for experimentation. But experimentation just to experiment isn't helpful, especially to our children. Public schools and teachers have a long history of experimenting, and there are processes and channels to facilitate the experimentation and sharing of results. Of course public schools aren't perfect, but that's no reason to give up on them, it's reason to improve them.
In short, charter schools concentrate the quality of schools to small pockets, whereas public schools have more uniform quality. If you increase the money to charter schools, you'll decrease the overall quality of public schools and concentrate the quality of Wisconsin's schools in a few choice charter schools. If you increase the money to public schools and decrease it to charter schools, you increase the overall quality of Wisconsin's schools. Charter schools will never be able to do what our public schools do as a whole, and creating them just wastes taxpayer money.
Charter schools are just another example of a fake solution that can only make things worse. If you want to improve our schools, improve our schools.
The Republicans also want to deregulate phone companies in Wisconsin, so we can all pay more for even crappier service. Thanks, Walker, for looking out for the citizens of Wisconsin! There's nothing more that can be said about phone company deregulation, besides welcome back Ma Bell!
Lastly, the Republicans want to end early release for low-risk prisoners. Regardless of what you may think of the idea of early release, as illusory tenant points out, it saves Wisconsin quite a bit of money. Not only that, but I believe these programs have been shown to improve the success of rehabilitating prisoners. So, the Republicans plan to make us pay more so that our prisoners are more likely to commit crimes again.
It's clear that these ideas are against the wishes of most Wisconsinites, because the Republicans are trying to pass these bills before they lose their majority. If their ideas were inline with our ours, they wouldn't have to rush these bills through now. They could just pass them with bipartisan support. However, these ideas are from the top of extreme-right wish lists, and they should be treated as such. They should be left to the fringe of political conversation, not the center.
None of these ideas or bills will save us money, solve any problems, create jobs, or reduce the budget. I'm absolutely appalled that Wisconsin is considering such "solutions," especially when we're not broke but short on money. The only thing they do is make us pay to look more like a hill-billy state. The grass really will be greener somewhere else if this crap falls on Wisconsin. What do we have to do to get some real solutions around here?
We the people of Wisconsin need to wake up now and stop this crap before we have to eat it!
(I glossed over many of my conclusions, but I can provide further facts and detail if desired.)