Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary?

You probably didn’t celebrate it. At least I hope you didn’t.

Yesterday, October 26th, was the second anniversary of passing the previous state budget. On October 26th, 2007, Wisconsin Act 20 was passed, making it the last-in-the-nation state budget to be completed.

This year, you should remember, we got the budget done on time – by July 1st – for the first time since 1977.

With the Democrats in control, somehow we got our job done on time. And we did it protecting state taxpayers during the worst financial conditions of most of our lifetimes.

Now that’s something to celebrate!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Enough to make you a vegetarian

One of the reasons I was glad to get my blog going again was to share "the rest of the story" on issues facing Wisconsin.

Case in point from last week….

You’ve heard the adage: “Laws are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made.” The roll out of job creation numbers by the Governor's office last week was pretty mangled, even for sausage.

According to the Obama administration, an estimated 22,100 jobs have been created and retained in Wisconsin thanks to the recovery dollars.

Some jobs were created directly by recovery dollars, some jobs were saved thanks to the cash and a good number of jobs would be retained or created due to the ripple effect through the economy.

Well, the initial numbers in Wisconsin got rolled out with all the finesse of an elephant doing ballet. Within an hour of being told at the Joint Committee on Finance meeting on Tuesday that we would be briefed on any job creation numbers that were to be reported, the Co-Chairs sat down for what I assumed was an initial briefing.

As we began raising questions on the incomplete way the report was being presented, someone passed around an iPhone. The screen revealed the clunky report had already been made public and was posted on WisPolitics.

But the real problem wasn't bad timing. The problem was the meat of the report. It was a partial report of a limited segment of recovery dollars. The media were given part of the story: the creation of 8284 jobs due to some of the recovery dollars – but what wasn’t included were such things as jobs from grant dollars, jobs from money directed to universities and local governments, jobs from tax credits and the impact of money being spent in the local economy . So legislative leaders scrambled to fill in the gaps: 22,100 jobs created. Context explained. Workers counted.

At a time of the Democrats making job creation our number one priority, it is hard to have a partner inadvertently downplaying the solid work of recovery dollars.

Republicans are doing that all on their own. Instead of trying to help us put Wisconsinites back to work, they waste their time throwing tea parties, raging at rallies and dodging the real work.

People care about the fact that, in the face of dire economic circumstances, we have made job creation and retention our number one priority. They care that the unemployment rate just went down. The real story here is that the economy is beginning to recover and the Republicans don't like it because they aren’t the ones making the sausage anymore.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hi, I'm REALLY Mark

Well, I’m back.

It has been just over two years since my former blog was taken over by a German bot, which now appears to have me hawking “psytrance chillout musik.” Seriously. Check out my alleged Astores (whatever that is).

But I have to admit, I miss my hijacked blog.

I know a lot of Republicans twitter these days. Maybe I’m being old fashioned when I say I want to go back to blogging. (Yes, I said old fashioned in the same sentence as blogging….yikes.)

But it is really hard to talk about substantive policy or issues in the amount of words that fit on a bumper sticker, which is what twitter usually is. Consider these words of wisdom:

“Honk for Inhofe in Tulsa!” – US Senator Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma
“the debate is over” – Gov. Bobby Jindahl, Louisiana
“@suzy_rice @Ridgeliner7 @NRSC Thank you for including me in your #followfriday recommendations” – US Senator John Ensign, Nevada

What the…???

So go ahead and call me old fashioned because I would like to express a few thoughts in a blog -- something more meaningful than honking or declaring an unknown debate to be over, even if @suzy_rice likes it short and sweet (if that is her real name).

So I will try to make sure that what is really going on behind the scenes in the State Capitol gets out, warts and all. So check back. I plan on offering my insight on all sorts of issues facing Wisconsin, from job creation to proposed legislation to federal recovery dollars and more. And some fun stuff too….

Here’s my promise. I will try to be as candid as possible about my observations, even if they aren’t popular with everyone. Because I think that is what is expected of me.

Thanks for stopping by. See you soon with some “meat.”