Scott Walker did not run primarily on a platform of killing public employee unions and becoming a conservative darling. His slogan during the Wisconsin gubernatorial campaign was “Wisconsin is open for business.” He put a premium on attracting new businesses to the state.
It just so happens that his method of bringing in new business aligns with longstanding conservative projects of deregulation and union-bashing. But how do they perform on their own terms? Simply put, is Wisconsin now “open for business?”
No. Right from the beginning, Walker’s cancellation of a high speed rail link between Madison and Milwaukee sent a rail car business out of Milwaukee, abandoning a large factory. The removal of collective bargaining rights from public employees may lead to a serious catastrophe for the state’s forestry industry, as they are likely to lose their third-party “certified market” status.
Now, his policies have sent other businesses throughout the state scurrying. A wind power project near Green Bay will be shuttered.
Chicago energy development firm Invenergy on Monday notified state regulators that it’s withdrawing plans to build a large wind power project south of Green Bay.
The company said it was concerned about moving forward because of the state of flux in Wisconsin’s regulatory climate when it comes to wind siting. Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a bill that would sharply curtail wind development.
In fact, since Walker has been sworn in, 19 plants have closed down for a variety of reasons. And as you can see, some of them are directly related to Walker’s policies on regulations, public employee unions, renewable energy and high speed rail. Without including Talgo (the rail car maker) and Invenergy (the wind power company), 2,207 workers in Wisconsin have lost their factory jobs since Walker’s inauguration. Even Walker’s one claim of “job creation” for Wisconsin is nonsense:
Meanwhile, Walker has taken a victory lap for “creating jobs” by paying an Illinois company $1.25 million to move their address a few miles north to Wisconsin. As discussed earlier, this doesn’t create jobs or tax revenue: All the Illinois employees will just have a slightly longer commute to work and because of Illinois-Wisconsin tax reciprocity agreements, will continue to pay taxes to Illinois.
Keep in mind that this is going on during a period of relatively decent job growth in the rest of the country. It’s no wonder that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald had to pause when asked if the Legislature could pass the anti-union bill again, if necessitated by court cases. Scott Walker is unpopular because of his extremist tendencies, but also because his policies are hurting Wisconsin’s economy.
Dave Dayen blogs on state and national politics at Firedoglake, where this article originally appeared.