No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Day by Day cartoon

Archive for June, 2009

June 30, 2009

If Your Friend Jumps Off A Bridge….

by @ 9:36. Filed under Health, Politics - National.

With my apologies to Chicago…

Does anyone really know how many Senate Democrats there are?
Does anyone really care?
If so I can’t imagine why
We’ve all got time enough to cry

I wrote waaaaaaay back here, that it wasn’t going to matter how many Senators the Democrats ended up with. There were enough folks abominating the Republican banner on any particular issue that the Dems would have the effect of running the Senate as they saw fit.

Today, nearly eight months past the election, we’re still waiting to see what the final count will be in the Senate. There is a wide belief that the MN Supreme Court will issue their ruling in the Franken/Coleman race before the Fourth of July. It’s also widely believed that the Court will side with Franken. Does it matter? No.

Senator Snowe has come out to say that with something as important as health care:

It is important to get it to be a bipartisan initiative, given the dimensions of health care reform and the implications to all Americans.

Olympia, were you raised by wolves?  Were you raised without any parental supervision?  Did you live a childhood devoid of friends, acquaintances or any people at all?  If no, how did you not, at least once, get the sage advice that if your friends were about to do a stupid thing, it didn’t make the situation better if you also decided to do the stupid thing!

While I doubt it would do any good, could someone please contact Olympia and ask her if she thinks it’s a good decision to jump off a bridge just because all of her friends are doing the same?

Update – Well, there you have it.  Franken won the Supreme Court decision.  Coleman has conceded and Pawlenty says he will sign the certificate.  OK Dems, it’s all yours now…at least for 18 months!

June 29, 2009

The last NASCAR race at the Mile already run?

by @ 12:36. Filed under Business, Sports.

Don Walker reports that Wisconsin Motorsports, which promotes the races held at the Milwaukee Mile, owes NASCAR $1,878,228 for the races that ran earlier this month. Late last week, Claude Napier, head of Wisconsin Motorsports, acknowledged that he still owed NASCAR money, but it was not known at that time just how much money was owed.

As part of a deal Wisconsin Motorsports and NASCAR inked the day before before the scheduled running of the Camping World Truck Series Race on June 19, Wisconsin Motorsports acknowledged that it would not be able to pay the sanctioning fees in full, and that all the revenue generated by the races that would normally go first to Wisconsin Motorsports would instead go to NASCAR. Thanks in part to a rain delay in the Truck Series race, there were approximately 7,500 people that attended that race the early afternoon of June 20, while approximately 35,000 attended the Nationwide Series race held in the evening of June 20.

Meanwhile, questions are still swirling about whether the Indy Racing League was paid for its May race, and whether the IRL will return to Milwaukee next year. The IRL continues to avoid answering whether it got paid, while Terry Angstadt, the president of IRLs commercial division, told the Indianapolis Star that Milwaukee’s presence on their 18-race schedule was in doubt because of promoter issues.

Both Napier and the Legislative Audit Bureau both state that the Mile will lose money this year. What is telling is the State Fair’s reaction to the troubles of the company they brought in after firing the previous promoter earlier this year – they’re just going to sit back and watch the whole thing implode.

Sotomayor overturned in Ricci v. DeStefano

by @ 12:00. Filed under Law and order.

(H/T – Gabriel Malor)

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 opinion that New Haven, CT’s decision to discard the results of a 2003 fire captain/lieutenant examination because “too few” non-Hispanic minorities passed, and specifically none with a high enough score to qualify for promotion, violated the Civil Rights Act. Judge (and SCOTUS nominee) Sonia Sotomayor previously ruled that New Haven could discard those results.

The majority, Justice Kennedy (who wrote the majority opinion), Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas, avoided the Constitutional question of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Instead, they decided that, since New Haven could not prove that following the results of the examination would have made it liable under the disparate-impact (the unintentional discrimination against minorities) portion of the Civil Rights Act, it violated the disparate-treatment (the intentional discrimination) portion of said Act. In fact, it stated that since the lower courts, including the appellate panel Judge Sotomayor was a part of, failed to establish any disparate impact, they inproperly applied the Equal Protection Clause.

Indeed, Justice Scalia states in his concurrence, “I join the Court’s opinion in full, but write separately to observe that its resolution of this dispute merely postpones the evil day on which the Court will have to confront the question: Whether, or to what extent, are the disparate-impact provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 consistent with the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection?”

Gabriel has a lot more insight over at the linked Ace of Spades HQ post. Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey wrote that Justice Alito’s concurrence, which addresses “calculated omissions” from the dissent written by Justice Ginsburg, that “…(Judge Sotomayor’s supporters’) big sell — that she was one of the appellate court’s most brilliant minds — just took a body blow on this decision.”

What hath the DemoBudget wrought?

by @ 11:10. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute, takes a look at some items slipped into the DemoBudget, including items I have missed:

  • Eliminate the requirement that, in any single fiscal year, revenues exceed expenditures, specifically for FY2011 (the second year of the budget).
  • The rest of us, most of whom have already paid for our recycling bins, get to buy the fine folks of the Town of Wrightstown their recycling bins.
  • Likely because of the criticism of the DemoBudget heaped by the various members of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a provision added by Sheridan and Decker that will allow the micro-targeted Shepard Express be the state “newspaper of record” in Milwaukee County. The last I checked, the Tuesday paid circulation of the Journal Sentinel, the lowest day for the daily, far outstripped the weekly free circulation of the Express. There’s no word on how those in Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Ozaukee or Washington Counties, or those not on the East Side of Milwaukee, will get the few state notices that are still required to appear in a newspaper, but because most of those areas are Republican, Sheridan and Decker probably don’t give a <expletive deleted>.
  • A requirement, first added by the Senate, that the Department of Commerce fill the area develpment manager position in western Wisconsin by October. While speculation is that it was to secure Rep. Jeff Wood’s (Alcohol-Chippewa Falls) vote for the budget, I doubt it as Wood abandoned his supposed “fiscal conservative” values to vote for the first Assembly version, which did not contain this.
  • A $600,000 giveaway from the Public Service Commission to the Citizens’ Utility Board. As Brett put it, “Let’s give a group state taxpayer dollars so they can turnaround and sue state government. That makes a whole lot of sense.”

Gov. Doyle will conduct the final act later today with the signing and issuance of his line-item vetoes. If memory serves, while the Legislature can reverse a veto with 2/3rds votes, it has not done so in over two decades.

Honduras – short version

by @ 9:51. Filed under International relations, Politics.

I have to give major props to Fausta for staying all over the top of this, and to most of her readers for a very lively discussion in the post. For the benefit of those who have been following the likes of The News Organization That Cannot Be Quoted™ instead of the likes of The Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady, allow me to give the Cliff’s Notes version:

  • Honduras President Mel Zelaya, dismayed to learn that his country’s Constitution precludes him from serving a second term (Article 239), and indeed prohibits any changes to that Article (Article 384), tried to hold a referendum for the purpose of calling a second referendum to be held in November, at the same time as the general election and the Presidential election, to rewrite the Constitution and remove that limitation (despite the National Congress having sole power to create and approve any legal amendments). That referendum was to be held yesterday.
  • Prior to that, specifically this past Tuesday, the National Congress passed a law prohibiting referendums within 180 days of a general election.
  • Honduras’ Supreme Court declared the referendum illegal, and Honduras’ armed forces, which typically help deliver ballots, refused to deliver ballots.
  • Zelaya fired the chief of the armed forces, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, in response, and refused to reinstate him after the Supreme Court unanimously ordered his reinstatement.
  • The Supreme Election Tribunal similiarly refused to participate, so the Venezuelan Air Force was brought in to distribute ballots.
  • At 6 am Sunday, Honduras’ armed forces, operating with a court order issued by the Supreme Court, under another part of Article 239 of the constitution that specifies that any public officeholder who calls for a change to the one-term limit for President immediately give up the powers of that office and be barred from any future public office for 10 years, removed Zelaya from the country. After an initial stop in Costa Rica, the Venezuelan Air Force delivered him to Nicaragua.
  • Among those calling for Honduras to ignore its Constitution and allow Zelaya to complete his Chavista Venezuelan takeover are Venezuelan President dictator Hugo Chavez, the Organization of American States, the European Union, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For those that wonder why such a strong one-term limit is in Honduras’ constitution, they’ve had a long history of strongmen who overstayed their welcome. After the last bout of strongmen ended in 1982, they decided, never again.

In a few minutes, Fausta will take up this topic in her Monday-Friday 15 Minutes on Latin America podcast. I highly recommend you listen.

Revisions/extensions (11:22 pm 6/29/2009) - Corrected the number of the article that prohibits any change to Honduras’ constitution that would affect the one-term-only President provision; somehow mistyped.

But Isn’t That My Ox Being Gored?

The Republican Party claims to stand for principles.  Amongst the principles they claim to stand for are limited government, personal liberty and free markets.  However, too many in the Republican Party believe that principles are not absolute.  They believe that principles can, shall we say, be flexible.  The rationale of these Republicans is that limited government is good, if I’m not in power, personal liberty is good unless my party says otherwise and free markets are good unless our party says there’s a problem.  Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is a perfect example of one of these flexibly principled Republicans.

As a result of Governor Sanford’s confusing personal life, there have been several articles this weekend promoting Pawlenty as a rising spokesperson, perhaps even now, a strong contender for the 2012 Presidential bid…yeah, whatever.  I don’t know if it’s some of that thinking or just because he’s a lame duck Governor and is working on his next meal ticket but, Pawlenty is quickly becoming to Governor’s what Michele Bachmann is for the House of Representatives; in the media all the time talking about things that they shouldn’t be talking about. 

A perfect example showing Pawlenty in the media saying things he shouldn’t and showing his flexible principles, was his appearance on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  On the show, Pawlenty argued that the recently passed cap and trade bill was bad policy.  OK, I’m with him so far.  It’s when he tells us why it’s bad policy that I give him my patented “Ron Paul talking about the gold standard” look.  According to American Pravda’s version of the interview, here’s why Pawlenty believes Cap and Trade is bad policy:

In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning, the Republican governor said he shares the goal of reducing pollution and emissions. But he says the best way to do that is through conservation, more fuel-efficient vehicles and improving base-load power with nuclear energy.

They add:

Pawlenty says the cap and trade emissions regime in the bill would send U.S. jobs to other countries.

Funny, in 2007 the Minnesota Legislature passed a renewable energy bill.  That bill requires that energy producers in the state generate specific and increasing percentages of their energy through things like wind, solar or hydrogen.  The mandates are high enough that it will make Minnesota the state with the most renewable generated energy in the nation.  An amendment to remove Minnesota’s restriction on nuclear plants, the only State one of a few, with Wisconsin being another, to have such a restriction, failed.  Likewise, an amendment to waive the renewable requirements if they cost more than 10% more than existing methods also failed.  Finally, the bill contained a provision that allows utilities that exceed their required amounts of renewable energy to sell credits to other utilities.  Sounds a bit like the sale of carbon credits doesn’t it? 

Governor Pawlenty signed this bill and in many corners, was seen as a cheer leader for the bill.  Today, he decries a national version of what he gladly burdened Minnesotans with just two years ago. 

To too many Republicans like Pawlenty, principles only matter when it’s not their ox being gored.

Revisions/extensions (8:37 am 6/29/2009, steveegg) - Made a correction, as Wisconsin also has a complete moratorium on new nuclear power plants.

June 28, 2009

Roll bloat – working edition

by @ 13:45. Filed under The Blog.

The actions of Honduras’ military to uphold their country’s Constitution and eject a Chavez-wannabe from their Presidency have resulted in me finding another of Dan Collins’ blogs – Piece of Work in Progress

Speaking of that news, I’m merely waiting for a second opinion on the translation of Honduras’ Constitution to put something up on that.

June 27, 2009

Guest column – Reince Priebus’ “Stop Digging”

by @ 16:57. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman Reince Priebus submitted the following guest column to outlets statewide this morning. Since, judging by the time it hit my comm-box, it arrived too late to make Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I’ll run it:

Over the past few months, it’s been no secret that Wisconsin’s budget is in a mess. A record deficit and a slowing economy surely haven’t made the task of setting a new two-year spending plan any easier.

But just because the task was difficult doesn’t mean fixing the problem was impossible. Wisconsin legislators, and, in particular Governor Doyle and the Democratic leadership members who control both houses, would have done well to follow a simple, guiding principle.

When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Family budgets and small business budgets work based on this rule every day. When times are tough, we cut back. Families certainly can’t tax the neighbors down the street when they want to spend money on something new, but state government can. Just look at the new state budget.

The new budget, approved by both houses of the legislature late last week, contains $4 billion in new spending, $2.1 billion in new taxes and fees on everyday expenses such as telephone service or garbage disposal, and $1.5 billion in property tax hikes. Democratic leaders attempted to balance the books by borrowing $2.9 billion, but even employing this questionable method of funding new spending leaves the state with an unsolved $2.3 billion structural deficit.

In total, in the five months since Wisconsin Democrats have held the Governor’s office, the state Assembly, and the state Senate, they’ve raised taxes in Wisconsin by $5 billion dollars. That’s almost $1000 for every Wisconsinite.

These tax increases are presumably an attempt to solve the budget mess, but the Democrats are overlooking one important detail. An increasing and excessive tax burden forces business out of the state at a time Wisconsin is bleeding jobs. Not only do higher taxes hurt families, they’re dampening the chances for the type of economic recovery that will put Wisconsin workers back on the job and our state’s finances back on track.

It’s not just Republicans that have been pointing out the disastrous effects that anti-business provisions can have on a budget. Chief Executive Magazine ranked Wisconsin a disappointing 43rd in the nation in its annual ranking of “The Best States to Do Business In.” And don’t expect the ranking to get better anytime soon. The new budget hikes taxes on investments, making businesses are even less likely to grow here in Wisconsin.

Equally as disturbing as the tax increases and new spending contained in the new state budget are the policy items that have no place being tucked in to a spending plan, as they have nothing to do with balancing the books. These non-fiscal policy items have the potential to wreck havoc on an already sour economy, and the new budget contains many such items.

For instance, auto insurance minimum coverage changes mean insurance rates are going up due to the new budget, driving up both costs and the number of uninsured. Take a look at your auto insurance premiums now. They are estimated to increase by up to 40 percent under the budget approved on a partisan vote by legislative Democrats.

The auto insurance changes are only one example out of almost one hundred non-fiscal policy changes currently included in the budget bill. It’s almost impossible to know the entirety of the impact each of the changes will have on our economy, but initial reactions from business owners across the state are marked with concern.

Unless lawmakers get serious about creating more jobs, cutting back on bloated state spending, and recognizing that increasing taxes on families and businesses hurts our economy, the budget mess could become a full-blown disaster.

As we await the Governor’s vetoes and signature on the budget bill, it’s already almost inevitable that the Wisconsin legislature will be forced to reconvene within a year to address a revenue shortfall when it becomes sorely apparent that taxing businesses out of the state means good-paying jobs and taxable revenue sources are leaving with them.

At this juncture, taxpayers should be calling the Governor to convey an important message. Ask the Governor to remove non-fiscal policy items that plague the budget bill. Tell the Governor you don’t think taxing families and businesses in the state will turn the economy around.

Most importantly, taxpayers should tell the Governor to stop digging. Wisconsin’s budget hole is due, in part, to creative funding transfers the Governor has made with his veto pen in the past. Wisconsin’s budget is bad enough.

June 26, 2009

Humor break – the greatest baseball promotion disaster since Disco Demolition Night

by @ 21:23. Tags:
Filed under Miscellaneous.

Only Iowahawk can come up with Recession Demolition Night. It involves the Chicago White Su…er, Sox, 90 C-17 Globemasters, and the $800 billlion in Porkulus money that has yet to be spent.

No word on whether they’re going to get Steve Dahl and Garry Meier back together for one night only.

RPW chair Reince Priebus on DemoBudget

by @ 19:26. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

The following just came in the comm-box from the Republican Party of Wisconsin:

RPW Chairman Reince Priebus Statement on Final State Budget Passage

MADISON – Following Legislative passage of a spending plan that increases spending by nearly $4 billion, increases taxes and fees by $2.1 billion, increases property taxes by $1.5 billion, and leaves Wisconsin with a $2.2 billion deficit, Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Reince Priebus issued the following statement:

“Wisconsin’s budget mess is now a full-blown disaster. Taxes are going up, spending is going up, borrowing is going up…and Wisconsin jobs are going down as a result of it.

As he considers vetoes to this disastrous budget, the least Governor Doyle can do is stop digging Wisconsin’s budget hole deeper.

Wisconsin just can’t afford another one of Governor Doyle’s signature funding transfers as a result of the veto pen. Taxpayers have simply had enough.”

Something tells me that what comes out from under Doyle’s veto pen will be even worse.

Paul Ryan’s reaction to the Cap-and-Tax passage

by @ 19:13. Filed under Global "Warming", Politics - National.

The following just came into the comm-box:

House Passes Punitive Cap-and-Tax Bill

New energy tax “demonstrates just how distant and out of touch

Washington is from Wisconsin,” says Ryan

WASHINGTON – Wisconsin’s First District Congressman Paul Ryan today spoke out on behalf of the families and small businesses that would be on the receiving end of a massive new energy tax. Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2454, American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, by a vote of 219 to 212, with bipartisan opposition. Ryan voted against this legislation.

The center of the deeply flawed H.R. 2454 is a cap-and-trade scheme aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy costs on all Americans. The complicated cap-and-trade program would require all energy producers to purchase expensive government permits in exchange for the right to produce energy from certain natural resources or to produce certain goods like steel, aluminum, or cement. Without regard for the detrimental economic consequences, the proponents of the legislation believe this unilateral energy tax would help reduce global temperatures by a fraction of a degree by the end of the century.

Ryan’s vote against the 1,200 page bill came after only three hours of general debate, with Majority rejecting the single amendment they allowed. In addition to the job losses that would result from the smaller economy, Ryan raised concerns with the impact on the budgets of individual households. Families would face increasing costs on not only energy – but all products that require energy to make them (i.e., everything). Various nonpartisan studies have estimated that average annual household cost increases would range from $425 per household to over $4000 per household. Specifically, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimate that Wisconsin families will pay an extra $230 million in energy tax once the bill is fully implemented in 2012.

Congressman Ryan fought against this draconian energy tax and supports H.R. 2828, the American Energy Innovation Act, a commonsense alternative to promote a cleaner environment without causing further economic devastation in the middle of a painful recession.

Following today’s action of the House floor, Congressman Ryan issued the following statement:

“Today’s vote reminds me of just how distant and out of touch Washington is from Wisconsin. At a time when jobs are increasingly scarce across Southern Wisconsin, Congress passed legislation explicitly designed to shrink our economy and increase energy costs on all Americans. Wisconsin is one of the nation’s top manufacturing States. Wisconsin entrepreneurs, small businesses, and workers shouldn’t need permission from the federal government to produce, grow, and create jobs, yet that is exactly the paternalistic message sent by Congress today.

“The Majority added a 300 page amendment to the 1100 page bill at 3:09am this morning which effectively regulates the national energy sector (8% of the U.S. economy), and no member of Congress has even read it. This bill is the biggest federal power grab of the American economy this year and that’s quite a statement.”

“Should this bill become law, Wisconsin would suffer a disproportionate economic blow. As the legislation’s authors and chief advocate reside far from the Midwest, the cap-and-trade legislation wasn’t primarily concerned with cold-weather, manufacturing States that get most of their energy from coal. Families in Southern Wisconsin don’t have the luxury of turning off the heat in the winter.

“What’s worse, because we are imposing this energy tax unilaterally, the legislation will actually hinder the environmental goals we’ve set out to achieve. By making manufacturing more expensive here in America, this bill would send our manufacturing jobs overseas to our competitors like India and China. For every ton of emissions we reduce, India and China will produce several tons more. Under this bill, we will send our competitors American jobs while they are negating the minimal environmental gains made here at home.

“There is a better way forward. I was proud to support a substitute energy reform – the American Energy Act – on House floor today, which focused on an all-of-the-above approach to creating a cleaner environment and a stronger economy. Rather than lock-up domestic energy supply, we should expand our use of American-made resources as we encourage the use of renewable and alternative energy sources, including nuclear, wind, solar, and more. Environmental stewardship and economic growth are not mutually exclusive goals, and I will continue to fight for both of behalf of those I serve in Southern Wisconsin.”

On to the final act of the DemoBudget

by @ 19:07. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

I still haven’t seen a clean-text version of what just passed the Assembly 51-46, but it goes on to Gov. Jim Doyle for the biennial sign-and-hack. Democrats Bob Ziegelbauer and Peggy Krusik joined all the Republicans in opposition, while former “fiscal conservative” Jeff Wood once again betrayed his former positions and joined his Democrat friends in supporting it.

My previous summary is back here. I’ll be adding odious items to this post.

For the want of 4…

by @ 18:43. Filed under Envirowhackos, Politics - National.

The following 8 “Republican” members of the House just enabled passage of the Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade-Tax bill:

Remember those names well, as had only 4 of them not wished for the largest and costliest intervention in manufacturing and energy production and usage in the history of this country, Henry Waxman, Ed Markey, and the interventionists would have failed as 44 Democrats saw this for what it is. Or, at least they would have forced 8 of those 44 to do what Jeff Plale did late last night in the state budget and sell out their principles.

Revisions/extensions (7:00 pm 6/26/2009) - My friends at The Heritage Foundation here’s what those 8 have done to their districts (in Castle’s case, the entire state). Nothing like dooming one’s district/state to billions of lost wages and tens of thousands of lost jobs.

John Boehner reading the entire cap-and-tax amendment

by @ 17:16. Filed under Global "Warming", Politics - National.

In case you don’t have C-SPAN on, you might want to turn it on right now. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is reading the entire 300-page amendment to the cap-and-tax Waxman-Markey bill that was introduced at 3:09 am this morning. He’s just over halfway through as I type.

Did you know that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made it into this amendment?

In other news,…

I’ve been focused on the state budget almost as much as the national presstitutes have been focused on Michael Jackson’s death, but Ed Morrissey has been keeping eyes on the larger picture. First stop – government-run health care. Our friends at ReasonTV have created a commercial on that…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPC6CqAFA4E[/youtube]
Next stop – Iran. Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami called for death to protestors. Things are going to get even bloodier.

Last, but definitely not least, is a familiar battleground, Gorebal “Warming”. The tactics employed by the Dems, including a last-second 300-page amendment to a 1200-page bill, are all-too-familiar. Just as a reminder from Ed, “This bill will lose the US 2.5% of its GDP each and every year in the years after the first decade of implementation.” (emphasis in the original)

Hot view Friday – Rebecca Kleefisch and the Capitol view of Necrobudget

by @ 8:12. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

(H/T – Charlie Sykes)

Rebecca Kleefisch, late of WISN-TV, took a camera to the state Capitol yesterday, asked various Legislators what the most wasteful thing in the budget is, and posted the results on YouTube.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNTslLxcuyU[/youtube]

She managed to get both my Assemblyman, Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee, who noted that the budget creates more government that will never go away), and my Senator, Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee, and I’ll get to his item momentarily). I personally like the item from Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) – “It starts on line one of page 1 and ends on line 7 of page 1903.”

I have a follow-up for Plale -if you thought the $10 million to create a UW system nursing school it didn’t want was wasteful, why did you vote for it?

Revisions/extensions (9:00 am 6/26/2009) - After a review of the version of the Comparative Summary of Recommendations that includes the Conference Committee version of the budget, I guess wasting $3,006,000 on advance planning for a “potential” new building for UW-Madison’s School of Nursing and mandating a school of nursing for UW-Stevens Point is, in fact, quite all right by Plale.

The penultimate budget is in the pipeline

Revisions and extensions part 13 (7:09 pm 6/26/2009) – Since the DemoBudget has passed the Assembly 51-46, and we’re now at the final act of the biennial sign-and-hack from Gov. Jim Doyle, I’ll be updating a fresh post rather than this one.

Revisions and extensions part 4 (12:42 am 6/26/2009) – Moved up to the top (originally posted 6/25/2009 at 10:58 pm) with the 17-15 Senate passage (despite no bill text available). The most-vulnerable Dem Senator, Jim Sullivan, was again allowed to vote “no”. Start packing your bags.

R&E part 5 (12:59 am 6/26/2009) – Finally found the amendment text, which modifies the Senate version (as amended by a pair of amendments). Sorry I don’t have a clean-text version.

I have to thank Kevin Fischer, Sen. Mary Lazich’s (R-New Berlin) aide, for pointing me to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s comparison between the Assembly changes, Senate changes, and Conference Committee’s changes to the Joint Finance Committee Daughter-of-Necrobudget. This will be the version that Jim “Chainsaw” Doyle (WEAC/HoChunk-For Sale) will take his veto pen to because under state law, it cannot be amended by the full Legislature. Of course, as of 10:47 pm, WisPolitics’ budget blog doesn’t have the full text of the final substitute to AB75 (the budget bill), but apparently the 24-hour clock started ticking about 8:15 pm.

I haven’t done a hard analysis yet, but it just keeps on getting worse. From Sen. Lazich:

  • Total spending is up $4,000,000,000, or 6%.
  • The state-level/RTA-level increases in taxes are $2,100,000,000.
  • Total property taxes will go up $1,500,000,000, with the median home property taxes going up $90 at the end of this year and $130 at the end of 2010.
  • Borrowing increases by $2,900,000,000.
  • The structural deficit (how far in the hole the FY2012-2013 budget will start) is $2,300,000,000.

In case you missed the math, the total 2-year tax increase will be $3,600,000,000. There’s also a few kickers (straight to the nuts delivered with steel-toed boots) I want to get out there tonight:

  • The statutory general fund reserve will be halved to $65,000,000 for the duration of the budget. That is necessary because the FY2011 “net balance”, with that change, would be $149,100. No, that is not a misprint – that is less than the salary of the average full-tenured UW professor.
  • Drop the current 60% exemption on long-term capital gains to 30%, except for certain farm property/equipment. That represents a 2-year $242,500,000 tax increase from current law and a $72,300,000 tax increase from the Joint Finance Committee/governor version of the budget.
  • The KRM/SERTA Assembly provisions pretty much are final, except that it wouldn’t be the sole clearinghouse for federal grant money for the transit companies/authorities in southeast Wisconsin. To resummarize:
    • The car-rental tax in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Counties would go up from the current $2 collected by the soon-to-be-replaced Regional Transit Taxing Authority (the one that used $450,000 of its $500,000 tax take to lobby for higher taxes) to $18, $2 higher than the JFC/Senate version.
    • The Racine bus system and Kenosha bus system would each get $1/car rental from that only if the host city matched the funds. Rep. Robin Vos (R-Racine) told me earlier this evening that the only acceptable method would be a $10/car wheel tax.
    • Any other community in either Racine County or Kenosha County that wants a stop on the KRM would need to dedicate a “sustainable funding mechanism” to their respective county seat’s bus system. I failed to ask Rep. Vos what that definition was, but I suspect that it would also be a $10/car wheel tax.
  • The “prevailing wage” provisions would apply to both SERTA and the Milwaukee Transit Taxing Authority (the former was added by the Senate, the latter by the conference committee).
  • Speaking of the Milwaukee Transit Taxing Authority, the Assembly 0.65% sales tax plan is adopted, with Lee Holloway getting a third person on the board.
  • The Chippewa Valley and Chequamegon Bay (Bayfield/Ashland Counties, which I somehow missed in the Senate version) RTAs live on, but the Fox Valley RTA is dead.
  • Sen. Jeff Plale’s last-ditch attempt to get the state to pay for 75% of a I-94/Drexel Interchange instead of the usual 50% (since Franklin and Northwestern Mutual reneged on verbal agreements to pay for 25% and Oak Creek will not pay the full 50% local cost) is out, which means no I-94/Drexel Interchange.

There’s a lot more, but I’m too tired to keep going.

Revisions/extensions (11:15 pm 6/25/2009) - I decided to add the major points of the KRM tax to this post.

R&E parts 2 and 3 (12:36 am 6/26/2009 and 12:37 am 6/26/2009) - Good news/bad news on the illegal alien front – the illegal-alien drivers’ licenses are out, but the illegal-alien in-state tuition is still in.

Also, despite the continued lack of the actual bill over at WisPolitics, the Senate has taken this up, mostly because Alan Lassee (R-De Pere) is absent attending to his ill wife, and thus two Dems can safely vote “no” lost track of the math.

R&E parts 6 (8:26 am 6/26/2009) and 7 (8:31 am 6/26/2009) - Jo Egelhoff (who gave me entirely too much credit) found that card-check union organizing for UW research assistants is in the budget. AFSCME and SEIU bought this government, and the Dems, specifically Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, who snuck it in in conference, are bound and determined to give them their moneys’ worth.

Meanwhile, Christian Schneider found that the chiropractors got another leg up on regular doctors. Any bets on the donation splits from them in the 2010 election cycle?

R&E part 8 (9:03 am 6/26/2009)As noted above, the mandate for a UW-Stevens Point school of nursing and the requirement to spend just over $3 million for advance planning for a new UW-Madison school of nursing building, slated for construction in the FY2012-2013 budget, is in there. Paging East Side Plale.

R&E part 9 (2:34 pm 6/26/2009) - Brett Healy over at the MacIver Institute lists the dirty dozen items in this version of the budget. Items I haven’t listed yet:

  • Use $3,333,400 in general revenues to provide “engineering services” in Milwaukee, made out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan.
  • Rob $1,800,000 from five Milwaukee-area school districts, Oconomowoc, Mequon-Thiensville, Fox Point-Bayside and Nicolet, and give that to the Madison school district, again created out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan.
  • Full-speed death of the Qualified Economic Offer, same as Doyle’s, the Senate’s, and WEAC’s wishes (once again, the purchaser of this government gets what it bought).
  • Again out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan, extend in-state tuition benefits in the UW system to all foreign nationals, not just the illegal aliens I noted earlier. Supposedly said foreign nationals will need to swear that they either applied to become permanent residents or that they will once and if they become eligible to do so.
  • Make sure the portions of state government that get shut down as the result of either the hiring freeze or a furlough stays shut down, just as the Senate and AFSCME ordered (again, the purchaser of this government gets what it bought).
  • Again out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan, move up the start date of the new $0.75/line/month 911 fee from the later of 10/1 or 3 months after the budget is signed to 9/1, for an additional $5,000,000.
  • Again out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan, redirect $9,200,000 of a $37,000,000 raid from the Petroleum Inspection Fund (funded by a $0.02/gallon tax on gas and diesel) from the transportation fund to the general fund.

I can only wonder just how much more will be found after the 24-hour circuit breaker the Assembly has gets reset. In fact, I’m surprised that in their rush to remake the entirety of state government into a secretive chamber of lawmakers lawgivers, the Democrats didn’t get rid of that circuit breaker.

R&E part 10 (3:22 pm 6/26/2009) - While mandatory auto insurance, first put in by the Senate, as well as the highest minimums in the country, first put in by Doyle, is part of this, Recess Supervisor found a pair of stinkers added in out of whole cloth by Decker and Sheridan at the insistence of Pedro Colon and the Legislative Black Caucus – new insurees can’t be put into a high-risk category because they never had insurance before, and insurance companies can’t assign risk based on where a vehicle is kept. That’s right, those of you upstate and in the burbs get to subsidize the accident- and theft-prone in the hearts of Milwaukee, Madison, and Racine. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) has more on this, including the fact that the soon-to-be-law Wisconsin ban on area-based risk will be the the only one of its kind in the nation, and that other states (like Michigan) rejected it. Once again, Michigan beats us.

R&E part 11 (yes, we are that far, and there’s still time before the Assembly rubber-stamps this, 4:58 pm 6/26/2009) - Cathy Stepp found a stinker of an item from the Assembly version that popped back in – the allowance of the Department of Commerce to promulgate the initial rules for the new construction contractor registration program as “emergency rules without the finding of an emergency”, with the rule lasting . Using the emergency rules power under s. 227.24 of the state statues means no prior consideration for small business as provided by s. 227.114, no review regarding its effect on housing as provided by s. 227.115, no economic impact report as provided by s. 227.137, no advance copies provided to the Legislative Council staff as provided by s. 227.15, no prior hearings or notice thereof as provided by s. 227.16, 227.17 and 227.18, no prior legislative review as provided by s. 227.19, and no time to prepare for its implementation between its publication in the official state newspaper (or state website as provided by other provisions in the budget) and the first day of the following month as provided by s. 227.21.

There’s more agencies that get to implement “emergency rules” without the finding of an emergency, including the Department of Revenue’s new requirement to impose a 1% tax withholding on independent contractors (originally in the Assembly version).

R&E part 12 (5:03 pm 6/26/2009) - Greg Bump, who has been the on-the-scene man, reports that, after agreeing to waive the 24-hour rule, the Assembly will begin their rubber-stamping process at 5:30. He also posted the request from the little piggies known as the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities to Doyle to use his veto pen to eliminate the 7/1/2011 sunset of the $0.75/line police/fire protection tax (formerly known as the 911 tax) and eliminate the loosening of fireworks laws. I’m shocked, SHOCKED to see the spenders squealing for the continuation of a brand-new tax.

As an aside, I will be creating a fresh post when the Assembly does rubber-stamp what Kevin Binversie has freshly deemed the DemoBudget. Very apt name, don’t you think?

June 25, 2009

Roll change – BBA retirement edition

by @ 23:52. Filed under The Blog.

The Badger Blog Alliance has been retired. There’s no word yet where my blogfather will end up, though I hold out hope for Spotted Horse 3.

Yet another loss to Michigan

by @ 23:48. Tags:
Filed under Business, Politics - Wisconsin.

The Janesville Gazette reports that General Government Motors will be retooling its Orion, Michigan plant, which currently builds the Chevrolet Malibu and was slated to close later this year, to build its next-generation Chevrolet subcompact. The Orion plant beat out the already-shuttered Janesville plant, which built the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban (and GMC sisters), as well as the soon-to-be-closed Spring Hill, Tennesse plant, which makes the Chevrolet Traverse after being retooled away from the Saturn compact line.

Since there was no way that Government Motors would spare jobs in a Republican-leaning state, the race was really between Wisconsin and Michigan. When the business climate in Wisconsin is so bad that even a government-run operation won’t locate here, one has to wonder why we’re about to make it even worse.

Revisions/extensions (9:22 am 6/26/2009) - The Detroit News reports (H/T – FoxPolitics) that Orion offered GM a 100% tax break on new equipment and machinery for 25 years (up from a 50% tax break on same in an earlier offer) as well as a 50% tax break if it expanded the plant. Somehow, I doubt that it isn’t better than Jim Doyle’s offer (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

R&E part 2 (9:33 am 6/26/2009) - The folks who run the NewsHub Twitter stream just let me know they’re still working on trying to find out what Wisconsin’s offer was.

A couple things to keep in mind; the Janesville plant is already a shell – GM auctioned off pretty much everything that could be unbolted, including items that would have been useful in building subcompacts. While the cost of stripping out the unnecessary tooling has already been borne, the fact that they will be starting with nothing more than a shell of a building has to also be taken into account.

Speaking of the shell of the building, the Janesville plant is the oldest facility recently used by GM, opening in 1919. The Orion Assembly facility opened at the end of 1983. The ages of the facilities also comes into play, especially since energy costs are about to go through the roof nationwide.

Leah Vukmir to challenge Jim Sullivan

by @ 23:30. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

I was neglectful in getting this onto the blog, but I had live coverage of this morning’s announcement on the Twitter stream. Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) will be challenging Sen. Jim Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa) in the 2010 election. Since there was too much traffic in front of Gilles Frozen Custard to use the digital voice recorder, I’ll repost the press release:

Vukmir Announces Candidacy for 5th Senate District

District deserves a Senator focused on creating jobs and rebuilding our economy

(Wauwatosa,WI)…Citing a need for a Senator who better reflects the priorities of the people of the 5th Senate District, State Representative Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) today announced her candidacy for the State Senate.

“Wisconsin has lost 130,000 jobs in the last year. We need a Senator who cares about getting people back to work instead of figuring out how to squeeze more tax revenue from our families and employers,” Vukmir said. “This campaign isn’t about me. It’s about the people of the 5th Senate District getting the representation they deserve.”

Standing before a crowd of supporters gathered at Gilles Frozen Custard in Wauwatosa, Vukmir touted her record of supporting private sector job creation, tax relief, education reform, and health care reform.

“The 400 Harley Davidson workers laid off in April needed a senator who understands that higher taxes kill jobs,” Vukmir said. “When the economy soured, some politicians in Madison were concerned only with how to raise enough tax revenue to fund their spending addiction. My priority has been, and will always be, creating jobs and providing core services in the most efficient way possible.”

A Registered Nurse and Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Leah Vukmir was first elected to the State Assembly in 2002 and has been reelected three times. In 2008, she received 62% of the vote. In the current session, Vukmir is the Ranking Member on the Assembly Committee on Health and Health Care Reform. She is recognized by her colleagues as a leading advocate for taxpayers. Vukmir holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Marquette University and a Master of Science in Nursing from UW-Madison. The 5th Senate District is comprised of portions of the cities of Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, West Allis and Brookfield and the villages of West Milwaukee and Elm Grove.

I did ask Rep. Vukmir on possible replacements for her in the Assembly, and she said there were several good candidates.

I wholeheartely endorse Vukmir for the 5th State Senate District.

Open Thread Thursday – 6/25/2009

by @ 9:18. Filed under Open Thread Thursday.

If it’s Thursday, it’s Open Thread Thursday. It’s been a while since we’ve done metal madness…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MII3ns2KTBc[/youtube]

I’ve got some traveling to do today, so I’ll throw in a few links to start you off (no, this is not the return of The Morning Scramble):

I’ve given you the best kind of start, 1,400 megatons worth of links. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be the press over at Gilles; Rep. Leah Vukmir’s making a special announcement there in less than 44 minutes.

June 24, 2009

iD bought out, no real changes

by @ 19:50. Filed under Business.

(H/T – Abraham)

This one hits a bit close to home because I’m a fan of iD Software and have just about every title they’ve published since Wolfenstein 3D (which reminds me; I need to get Wolf3D for the iPod Touch). Ars Technica reports that Zenimax Media, parent company of Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls series publisher Bethesda Softworks, has bought iD. The good news is that Zenimax plans on no changes at iD, with all the principals signed to long-term contracts. The better news is that it wasn’t UbiSoft, Activision or EA that bought iD.

Must-watch Wednesday – Mary Katharine Ham tries to read Waxman-Markey

by @ 17:38. Filed under Energy, Envirowhackos, Politics - National.

It may no longer be called HamNation, and she doesn’t do videos nearly as often as she used to, but Mary Katharine Ham is back with a vengeance on the Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade-Tax bill about to be rammed down our throats…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rHOxnZDbDU[/youtube]

The 1,201-page version that just got marked up (as H.R. 2998) isn’t even the final version that will be rammed through on Friday, but it will be at least a not-at-all-reasonable facsimile.

Revisions/extensions (7:22 pm 6/24/2009) - I hope MKH doesn’t get laryngitis reading the bill. So far, she made it through the table of contents. Instead of posting videos, I’ll direct you to her YouTube page.

Scratch Ford, Nissan and Tesla from the good cars list

by @ 10:22. Filed under Business, Politics - National.

Fox Business reported yesterday that Ford, Nissan and Tesla will partake in the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, a $25 billion loan program from the federal government ostensibly to finance plant changes “needed” for improved fuel-economy and improved-range electric vehicles. Ford’s $5,900,000,000 will go for converting a pair of truck plants into car plants, technology to improve the mileage of its core line (Focus, Escape, Taurus and F-150), and other improvements to its engines. Nissan’s $1,600,000 will go for electric vehicle production in its Tennessee plant. Tesla’s $465,000,000 will go to begin mass production of its first vehicle, as well as a battery pack designed for the Smart.

That’s right; your federal government is not satisfied with getting its meathooks into the Not-So-Big Three, and has decided to go whole hog into the Japanese Nissan (or is it the French Renault, as Renault holds close to half of Nissan?).

Any guesses as to what will eventually happen to Ford and Nissan? Here’s a hint…

June 23, 2009

Buh-bye cookies

by @ 14:56. Filed under Business.

Republic Airways Holdings, which already has a rather substantial relationship with Midwest Airlines, will be acquiring the whole kit and caboodle, 100% of the equity (currently split 53%-47% between TPG Capital and Delta Air Line) and a $31 million secured note held by TPG, for $6 million in cash and a $25 million/5-year note, which can be converted to Republic stock for $10/share. The press release linked to also states that the rest of the Boeing 717 aircraft owned by Midwest will be replaced by smaller, but longer-ranged, Embraer 190 aircraft already operated by Republic.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that, prior to the takeover, Republic had loaned Midwest $31 million and assumed a $4.2 million judgement against Midwest relating to non-payment of jet and jet-engine leases.

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