Blaska Policy Werkes

Scott Walker tore up Doyle’s fast-train deal but Wisconsin’s economy didn’t crash and burn


Remember when Scott Walker tore up Jim Doyle’s fast-train deal and spurned $810 million in Obama stimulus money? Remember how that was going to wreck Wisconsin’s economy?

As Madison’s own Chris Farley used to say, “That was awesome!”

Seven years ago this month. Scott Walker had just defeated the Democrat, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (for the first time, as it turned out). The governor-elect set up a podium in front of the east wing of the State Capitol and said he would not be suckered in to a boondoggle that made no economic sense, “free money” or not.

“Walker creates jobs, but not in Wisconsin,” Comrade Nichols tut-tutted at the time.

Our liberal-progressive-socialist acquaintances did what they do best: they held a rally. Here is Big labor toady Roger Bybee reporting for the radical Left mouthpiece In These Times:

State Sen. Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee, was among the parade of speakers — from labor, the environmental movement, the faith community, Latino, and African-American neighborhood groups [Blaska: always the identity politics] — who addressed a spirited crowd of about 400 Monday. They denounced Walker’s move as destructive both to the environment and the state’s economic recovery.

That was seven years ago this November.

So many new jobs, not enough workers

This is now: “Wisconsin businesses grapple with a growing worker shortage.” That was the headline on the WI State Journal’s big Sunday spread a few weeks ago.

Unemployment in Wisconsin and the nation as a whole are the lowest this young century. The stock markets — whether measured by the Dow Jones, the S&P 500, or the Russell 5000 — are setting records. When the Dow Jones industrial average soars 331 points in a single day, as it did Thursday, people with retirement savings sit up and take notice.

“Consumer spending, home sales, and business investment show rising optimism,” the Wall Street Journal reports this morning. The GDP is finally growing at a 3% clip, and better.

Economists predict national unemployment, at 4.1% in October, will improve to 3.5% at the end of 2018, a rate not seen since the late 1960s.

Wisconsin’s employment numbers are even better — 3.4%, down from 9.2% in December 2009. Wisconsin’s gained more manufacturing jobs than any other state but one; we  were Number #1 in the Midwest. The percentage increase in all non-farm jobs is 7th-best in the country and the best-est in the Midwest-est. New unemployment insurance claims for 2016 were the fewest in 30 years.

Now Gov. Walker is asking the Republican legislature for money to beat the bushes nationwide for workers.

“Start-ups’ is a non-starter

So what does Your Progressive Voice tout as an issue?  “Lackluster’ start up success in Wisconsin could be prominent issue in 2018 governor’s race,” reads their headline this week. Nice try.

To be fair, they’re quoting the usually reliable television journalist Mike Gousha. Democrats have sounded this theme before. But as a campaign issue? As a vote getter? It just doesn’t ring. That bell has no clapper.

Cue football coach Jim Mora’s classic post-game meltdown: Start ups? START UPS? The biggest economic problem in Wisconsin is finding enough workers to fill all the jobs being created here and you’re asking about “start-ups”?

More likely, Democrats will try to make hay on the $3 billion incentives to land FoxConn and as many as 13,000 jobs. Just don’t tell anyone in Racine or Kenosha, which only happen to be two of the most Democratic enclaves in Wisconsin. Never mind that almost all of the incentives come in foregone future revenues rather than actual outlays.

BTW: Ohio’s governor John Kasich also spurned the Obama high-speed train stimulus. So the money went to California. How’s that been going?

The high-speed train to Palookaville

Federal stimulus money for California high-speed rail: $25 billion. Total cost of the project: $64 billion — up from the $40 billion originally sold to referendum voters. The Democratic state legislature just denied a request for an emergency audit. The last audit, conducted five years ago, “noted a number of concerns about finances and ridership,” a Bakersfield news outlet reported this week.

The project is seven years behind schedule. The first phase won’t be completed until 2025. Due to safety concerns, in many segments the train will be slow-speed, not high-speed. The venture is tied up in the courts over a spate of environmental lawsuits. (Forget it, Jake. It’s California.)

“Nobody wanted this train wreck,” the Orange County Register editorialized this month.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: Bucky defeats the Buckeyes Saturday in Native Americanopolis, 28-21, for the Big Fourteen crown and a berth in the college football playoffs.