Tag: budget cut

Chicago teachers go on one-day strike against Rahm-Rauner austerity

K-12 school teachers represented by the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) have gone on a one-day strike to protest budget cuts by Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the Rahm Emanuel-appointed Chicago Public Schools (CPS) board (tweet from March 23, strike took place today):

Republicans like Bruce Rauner and his allies, as well as neoliberal corporate Democrats like Rahm Emanuel and his allies, have teamed up in an effort to destroy public education in Chicago, as well as the rest of Illinois. This is despite the fact that investing in public education, not charter schools, school vouchers, or other forms of education privatization, is one of the best investments that politicians can use the people’s taxpayer money for. The more money that government invests in public education at the elementary, secondary, and collegiate levels, the more likely students are able to go on to work in good-paying jobs, thus stimulating the economy when those who have good-paying jobs spend their hard-earned money on goods and services.

I stand with striking Chicago teachers!

As he launches his presidential campaign, Scott Walker compares Wisconsinites to special interests

Approximately 19 seconds into Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign announcement video, an unnamed narrator for the Walker campaign said that Walker “beat the special interests” over a video clip of progressive protesters supporting the unsuccessful recall attempt against Walker in 2012. At around the 39-second mark of the video, Walker himself spoke in front of the camera and talked about taking “power out of the hands of big government special interests”.

In reality, Walker compared the people of his state to special interests, while allowing special interests like big business interests and the school voucher lobby to benefit from the very big government that Walker rails against.

For Walker to compare Wisconsinites to special interests is not only false, it’s also offensive. More specifically, Walker compared Wisconsin progressives to special interests, and, having followed many of them on blogs and social media for the past few years, I can certainly say that they are not special interests. They’re people who want to make their state and their country a better place to live. They care about their communities, and they support workers’ rights, women’s rights, the middle class, open government, equality, and other progressive ideals. As Meghan Blake-Horst, a co-founder and the market manager of the MadCity Bazaar flea market in Madison, Wisconsin, put it, “Yes, we have special interests in feeding, educating and providing our kids a healthy place to grow up. And running our small businesses.” Comparing people like Blake-Horst to special interests dehumanizes people.

The truth about Walker’s record is that he and his political allies in Wisconsin have given special interests, such as big business interests and the school voucher lobby, effective control over Wisconsin’s state government. Those special interests have, in turn, helped Wisconsin’s state government, among other things, hand out tax breaks to the wealthy, give out tons of corporate welfare to businesses, privatize and cut funding from public K-12 education, cut funding from higher education, strip tenure away from college professors, make it harder for Wisconsinites to vote, make it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want, bust unions, drive down wages, hurt Wisconsin’s economy, run up massive state budget deficits, and destroyed Wisconsin’s reputation. Martha Laning, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), didn’t mince words one bit in her statement criticizing Walker as he launches his presidential campaign. Laning stated that Walker’s record “is one of unprecedented corruption, division, extremism and a failure to foster economic growth and opportunity”. Laning also took Walker to task over “stagnant” wages in Wisconsin, “job growth that’s dead last in the Midwest and trailing most of the nation”, a corporate welfare agency “that’s known more for scandal than economic development”, and a massive Wisconsin state budget deficit “created by his failed policies”.

While Scott Walker compares the people of his home state to special interests, the truth of the matter is that Walker is beholden to real special interests that own him and his political allies, and they’ve completely wrecked Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. If Walker is elected president, Walker, his political allies, and big-money special interests will turn America into a third-world country by enacting the same far-right political agenda they enacted in Wisconsin.

Bruce Rauner paying former charter school executive $250,000 per year out of the budget of a social services agency

You may remember Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hiring Beth Purvis, a former Chicago charter school executive, to a newly-created post that could best be described as an “education czar”.

Well, you may be surprised about where the money for Purvis’s ridiculously high $250,000/year salary is coming from.

Rauner is paying Purvis’s $250,000/year salary out of the budget of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS is not responsible for overseeing education in Illinois (the Illinois State Board of Education oversees K-12 education at the state level in Illinois), instead, it’s a government agency that, among other things, administers social safety net programs run by the state and provides assistance to people with developmental disabilities. This revelation comes not long after Rauner authorized a funding cut of $26 million from DHS, which would make it harder for Illinoisans who need the state’s social safety net to survive and get their lives back on track to get the help they need.

Democratic Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who is the chairman of the Illinois House Human Services Appropriations Committee, has called for Rauner to testify over cutting funding meant to help our state’s most vulnerable residents and using it to pay the ridiculously high salary of a mouthpiece for Rauner’s political agenda to destroy public education in Illinois (official letter here). I agree with Harris on this issue, because it’s absolutely ridiculous for Rauner to cut funding from the most vulnerable Illinoisans and give it to his political cronies.

Bruce Rauner cuts funding to programs that help Illinoisans with autism

Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner cut funding for programs to help Illinoisans with autism succeed in life on, of all days, World Autism Day:

State funding cuts are threatening services for people living with autism, as families who receive help through a program called the Autism Project say they will be devastated by its elimination.

The Autism Project says Gov. Bruce Rauner confirmed the decision to cut funding for the remainder of the 2015 fiscal year Thursday – on World Autism Day.

Rauner’s decision to cut funding for autism programs on World Autism Day is downright cruel and will leave thousands of Illinoisans with little or no chance of being able to live anything resembling a normal life. Here’s some of the great things that autism programs here in Illinois have done:

Timotheus J. Gordon is working on his masters in fine arts from IIT, something he never dreamt was possible without the help he got from the Illinois Autism Project (TAP).

“Where else can I go to get help?” Gordon said.

[…]

TAP educates, comforts and funds resource rooms, such as one in the West Side’s Hope Learning Center, so parents and kids can feel, as they say, “normal.”

“TAP is there for all of these kids, I can go there and I can get visual boards made, I can go there and I can cry to them, they will hold my hand and give me the support I need,” said Vanessa Falling, the parent of an autistic 4-year-old.

Sadly, the opportunity for Illinoisans with autism to be able to live something resembling a normal life is gone for thousands of Illinoisans thanks to Bruce Rauner’s cruel decision to cut funding to autism programs.

Bruce Rauner: Republican for Cancer

Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner proposed funding cuts to, among other things, the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) in his state budget, as well as cuts to programs designed to encourage Illinoisans to end their addiction to tobacco products.

These cuts are strongly opposed by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), which issued this statement in opposition to the proposed cuts:

IBCCP helps thousands of women get their doctor-recommended mammograms every year, connecting uninsured and underinsured Illinois women with potentially life-saving screenings. From 2007 to 2012, the state program detected 727 invasive breast cancers and 1,490 cervical cancers and precancerous lesions.

Maintaining funding and eligibility for IBCCP will preserve a critical safety net for thousands of women in our state who will not qualify for Medicaid this year. It’s our hope the General Assembly will restore cuts to this program for the sake of all Illinois women.

Illinois’ tobacco prevention and cessation programs have made great strides in reducing youth and adult smoking rates. However, the state currently spends only nine percent of the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended funding level, jeopardizing lives that could be saved by reducing tobacco use.

Tobacco not only leaves a serious mark on our state’s physical health. It also places a heavy burden on its economic health. This year, smoking will cost Illinois more than $8.3 billion, further straining its already difficult financial situation. Maintaining funding for tobacco prevention and cessation would be a wise use of state dollars. It would help prevent needless tobacco-related deaths and reduce the excessive costs of tobacco use.

We understand Illinois continues to face tough financial choices, but fighting cancer should always be a top policy priority. We look forward to reviewing Governor Rauner’s complete budget proposal and working with lawmakers to restore funding to these critical programs.

Make no mistake about it, Bruce Rauner’s barbaric budget would result in more Illinoisans being diagnosed with cancer due to a lack of state funding for programs that make it easier for Illinois women to receive breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as encourage Illinoisans to end their addiction to cancer-causing tobacco products. Bruce Rauner is not compassionate, and he apparently doesn’t realize how devastating cancer can be to those who are affected by it.

I hope that the Illinois General Assembly restores funding to breast and cervical cancer screening programs and tobacco cessation programs, and, if necessary, overrides any kind of Rauner veto to these programs.

Scott Walker’s barbaric budget eliminates the Wisconsin Idea and forces UW System faculty to work without pay starting in mid-2016

Wisconsin Governor and likely Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker’s barbaric budget includes, among other things, the destruction of the University of Wisconsin System (UW System), Wisconsin’s network of two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

First off, the third Walker budget includes a provision that would eliminate the search for truth, which is effectively the current primary mission of the UW System, and the Wisconsin Idea, which outlines the mission of the UW System to serve the people of Wisconsin, from the UW System’s mission statement and would replace it with a mission statement that effectively makes serving Big Business interests the UW System’s primary mission. While Walker has tried to claim that the budget provision removing truth and the Wisconsin Idea from the mission statement is a “drafting error”, I think Walker’s claim is hogwash for a couple of reasons. One, I’ve made plenty of drafting errors as a political blogger, but I’ve never managed to rewrite the entire mission statement of a state college or university system in one of my drafting errors. Two, I firmly believe that Walker included that provision simply to pander to the far-right Tea Party crowd in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, both of which hold early contests for the Republican presidential nomination, only to backtrack from it after he submitted the proposal to the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature and Walker got questioned by the media over it.

Secondly, there’s something very unusual in Walker’s budget proposal:

If you look at the “FY17 Recommended” column in the “Full-Time Equivalent Position Summary”, you’ll notice that not a single penny is appropriated to full-time faculty member salaries. If Walker’s budget were to be enacted in its current form, starting in July of 2016, when Wisconsin State Fiscal Year 2017 begins, professors and other full-time faculty members at UW System colleges and universities would be required to work without pay. While most college professors work because they love teaching higher education and conducting research in order to make their communities, state, and country a better place to live, I’m almost certain that very few, if any, college professors would work without any pay at all, even though most college professors are interested in doing much more than earning a paycheck. Forcing UW System college professors to work without pay would significantly hurt Wisconsin’s economy, especially areas of Wisconsin in or near a UW System institution, and is, to put it mildly, absolutely cruel. Walker has yet to give one of his absurd explanations for eliminating UW System full-time salaries in his latest state budget.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how barbaric Scott Walker’s latest Wisconsin budget proposal is. As a Illinois resident, the thought of Walker being anywhere near the White House gives me nightmares.

Scott Walker wants to cut funding to higher education in Wisconsin and give most of it to the owners of an NBA team

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This will probably be my final blog post on The Progressive Midwestern until early March, as I’ll be finishing a book that I’ve been writing.

On the same day that Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced that he intends to cut a whopping $300 million from the University of Wisconsin System (UW System), Wisconsin’s network of two-year and four-year public colleges and universities, Walker also announced that he wants to give most of that money to the owners of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks so that they can have a new arena built in the Milwaukee area:

This is a continuation of Walker’s massive expansion of the corporate welfare state in Wisconsin, in which corporations and other types of businesses get tax breaks and other government benefits, often at the expense of education, social services, and other government programs. Mark Lasry, one of the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, probably could pay for a new arena by himself, as his net worth was listed at $1.7 billion last year, and Lasry isn’t the sole owner of the Bucks. Yet, the Bucks owners are whining about wanting Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money to be used to fund their new arena, and it looks like Walker is going to cut funding from higher education in Wisconsin and give it to the Bucks owners.

Scott Walker’s priorities are completely screwed up. What is even worse about this is that Walker wants to run for president so that he can hand out federal taxpayer money to corporations.