“The recall is on!” That was the email I got on Tuesday. Four short weeks from now, on November 15, United Wisconsin will file recall papers with the GAB against Governor Scott Walker. Then we will have only 60 days to gather the 540,206 verifiable signatures needed to force a recall election. United Wisconsin has pledged to gather at least 700,000.
If you don’t live in Wisconsin, you are probably wondering what’s going on here, what’s the deal with the Governor? Well back in January, Mr. Walker and his Republican dominated legislature, proposed the infamous Budget Repair Bill. It was going to be the cure for all our woes. The first targets of this bill were the retirement and health insurance funds of teachers and public employees. Those are the workers, under the thrall of the unions, who have been sucking on the teat of the taxpayer all these years. Getting cushy retirement, decent health care and paying virtually nothing for it. Well no more free ride, there would now be an increase in the percentage they paid into these funds. Oh by he way, those workers have been negotiating a lower salary in order to get those benefits. This increase would not affect police and fire, probably because those people carry guns and axes. Next on the agenda, collective bargaining. That hit a sore point among public employees because no longer could they bargain for salary, or working conditions, or benefits, or rights in the workplace….and how much money would this save? None, the governor admitted later. However with no discussion or input from the opposition, he and the legislature just rammed this through. Union busting? You betcha! See my post from March if you missed how well the people of Wisconsin liked that part of the bill.
Since then, he has turned down $80,000, 000 in Federal money for high-speed rail, passed the firearms concealed carry law, cut 900 million from education and has put through a voter ID law to prevent voter fraud (which is almost non-existent in this state). On the surface the voter ID doesn’t sound too bad until you start looking through the layers. This is how AB7 is stated:
The legislation will allow the following IDs for voting: Wisconsin driver’s licenses; state-issued ID cards; military IDs; passports; naturalization certificates; IDs issued by Wisconsin-based tribes; and certain student IDs. The photo ID provisions would go into effect during the 2012 spring elections.
Certain student IDs? Yes, student IDs need to be issued from accredited public and private colleges and universities in Wisconsin, include the student’s signature and have a two-year expiration date. Students would have to establish they are currently enrolled in the school if using a student ID. Fortunately, a provision to require addresses on student IDs was removed from the bill by the Assembly.
All that sounds fine until you learn that no UW-System campuses currently issue IDs that meet the legislation’s requirements, and the changeover could cost the system $1.1 million. Considering the cuts to education, it’s going to be hard for the university system to get all this in place so students can vote in 2012.
Well, get a driver’s license or a state-issued ID, everyone can do that. Maybe. Wisconsin law requires the Department of Transportation to provide free ID cards to any individual who will be at least 18 years of age on the date of the next election and who requests a free ID for the purpose of voting. But the new restrictions, when put into effect, will extend the time of obtaining an ID card at the DMV from a few hours to 7-10 days. This is due to the need to provide a birth certificate and other documents to receive a DOT-issued ID. So plan way ahead of an election. Especially if you have to first get a copy of your birth certificate. If that wasn’t bad enough, the governor then, in one of his budget saving measures, proceeded to close 16 DMV offices in the state. After a huge outcry he, thankfully, backed off on that measure. But I bet he didn’t want to…
This summer we actually had recall elections on nine senators, 3 democrats and 6 republicans. The hope was to reclaim the majority in the senate. Democrats needed to pick up 3 senators, all of the democrats won,but only 2 of the 6 republicans were unseated. Still, people felt encouraged by those victories.
It has now been a couple of months since all that happened. No one is marching around the Capitol (we are not allowed in our Capitol anymore). No one is carrying signs (we are not allowed to carry signs anymore). But no one has forgotten. * to be fair new rules have been put in place but I wouldn’t be surprised if that is subject to change as we get closer to the recall. Mr. Walker has told us he is not worried about the recall and will continue to work on his promise of creating jobs in Wisconsin. Unemployment was at 7.4% when he entered office, and even after Mr. Walker offered new businesses coming to Wisconsin a no-tax incentive, we are currently at 7.9%. Better than the national average but we are going in the wrong direction.
So keep your eye on Wisconsin, in four weeks, a determined army of people who love their state and love their freedoms and believe every resident should have the right to vote, will be hitting the streets, knocking on doors, and working hard to get those signatures to force the recall. An opposing candidate needs to come forward and money has to be raised because Mr. Walker has a lot of very rich friends, can you say Koch? But we are confident and we are not going to let him scare us, no matter how ugly it gets.