Earlier this week Scott Walker addressed the Dairy Business Association. According to a report by Wispolitics, he spoke about tort reform. During those comments he said, "I told (Gov.) Rick Perry down in Texas 'Look out, we're coming after you.'" Although he was specifically talking about tort reform here, it is well known that Wisconsin Republicans have long wanted to model Wisconsin after many of the southern states. So if Texas is going to be our big aspiration, I thought that I would take a look at what we might expect.
Wisconsin faces an approximate $2.2 - $3.3 billion deficit (depending on which numbers you accept). Walker's role model Texas Governor Rick Perry is presiding over a budget deficit of $25 billion. To his credit, Walker certainly intends to drive up Wisconsin's deficit with irresponsible tax cuts for the rich and his big corporate boosters.
When conservatives bring up tort reform it is often in the context of health care. They usually recite the same talking points about malpractice lawsuits and that they are allegedly chasing doctors out of the state. According to U.S. Census figures Wisconsin has 259.1 doctors per 100,000 residents (ranked 22). Texas has 214.2 and is ranked at 41 in the nation. Look out Gov. Perry, here we come!
Walker claims that the drastic cuts t0 come, will spare public safety (even though he didn't practice that as county executive). But after he cuts or eliminates shared revenue to local governments, you can bet that public safety funding will in fact suffer. The "good news" for Walker is that it just might help us catch up to the Texas violent crime rate. U.S. Census figures show that Wisconsin has 291 violent crimes per 100,000 residents (ranked 34) while Texas has 511 and is ranked 14.
We already know that Scott Walker is no fan of social programs and they are not a priority for him. So perhaps this is another area where we can catch up to Texas' "boot strap" approach to poverty. U.S. Census figures show that Wisconsin has 10.4% of its population living below the poverty level (ranked 38). Texas on the other hand has 15.8% of its population living below the poverty level (ranked 8).
The home ownership rate in Wisconsin is about 70.4% (ranked 26) based Census data. Texas stands at 65.5% (ranked 45th in the nation). While we are talking about housing, lets talk about mobile homes being a percentage of total housing units. Texas ranks 22nd with 7.4% and Wisconsin ranks 40th with 3.8%.
We already know that we can brace for severe Walker cuts in things like Badgercare. Perhaps that kind of heartless approach can also move us closer to Walker's "lone star vision" for Wisconsin. The percentage of children 17 years and below that don't have health insurance in Texas is 19% while in Wisconsin it is 5% (this is only through 2008, so because of the efforts of Governor Doyle in this area, that Wisconsin rate is likely much smaller now).
We also know that education funding will be on the chopping block next year, so what can we "look forward" to in that department? A new national report on education recently came out and listed Wisconsin as having nearly a 90% graduation rate in 2008. That same report shows Texas with only a 73.1% graduation rate (which is below the national average of 74.9%).
UPDATE: A new report was released on the U.S. cities with the most/least "brainpower". Madison made the top ten (out of 200) while three of the bottom ten were from guess where? I'm just saying...