Wisconsin Legislature vs. Us--- Republican Pay to Play Politics


Republicans help wealthy donors at everyone else's expense argues Ruth Coniff (editor of The Progressive) in her recent op-ed published on ISTHMUS/The Daily Page. "You have to hand it to them--at least they're consistent. If there's an issue that pits the interests of ordinary Wisconsinites against those of a wealthy elite, you can count on our leaders in the statehouse to defend the rich and corporations against kids, low-wage workers and the uninsured." She cites the following:

1. Assembly Bill 540, Rep. Joel Kleefisch's bold initiative to defend the interests of stingy millionaire dads. It just so happens that Michael Eisenga (a millionaire business owner who reportedly helped write the bill) maxed out on campaign contributions to Kleefisch 6 times. He also gave $7,500 to Kleefisch's wife, Lt.Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and $15,000 to Gov. Scott Walker.

2. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which has been handing out money to companies that happen to be big Republican donors, on the theory that these incentives will induce the "job creators" to create some jobs. Instead, the agency lost a lot of the money, gave it to companies for jobs that existed before the program went into effect, and bought Badger tickets and iTunes gift cards for staff. The net effect? Wisconsin lags the region in job creation and had the highest number of unemployment claims in the nation in November. So what does the Legislature do? It releases millions to the WEDC to keep up the good work.

3. The drive to do away with the weekend. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's biggest business lobby and a major Republican contributor, is pushing for the law so that employers can "allow" their employees to work seven days a week. Sen. Glenn Grothman (one of the bill's sponsors) makes no bones about the fact that WMC came up with the idea.

4. The privatization of our public schools in Wisconsin. The powerful school privatization lobby, which now employs 3 former Assembly speakers who walk the halls of the Capitol and twist arms, ranks with the WMC as a top donor to state Republicans and is pushing for profit-making education companies to get a piece of the state's public-school funds. An Assembly committee last week took up a bill that would make it easier for independent, profit-making charter schools to proliferate, without oversight by local school boards and communities. These schools take money right off the top of state education funds, draining money from every public school in the state. To read the rest of Ruth Coniff's Jan. 16 article go to www.isthmus.com/isthmus/article.php?article=41834

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