Scott Walker tried to dial in a phony, deceptive report from the Governor’s Commission on Waste, Fraud and Abuse and figured nobody was looking.
Walker apparently had good intentions when he stated:
“Right-sizing state government starts by identifying the areas where state government has not been a good steward of taxpayer dollars,” said Governor Scott Walker. “This commission is the first step in restoring the people’s trust in their government.”
That sounds so “responsible” and “authoritative”… until you read the actual final report. Representative Mark Pocan and Senator Chris Larson gave a look at the report and found a lot of errors, a lot of mistakes and a lot of the usual defrauding and hoodwinking antics the people of Wisconsin have come to expect from the Walker administration. Here is a portion of their alternative report:
We take issue with several of the findings in the Republican report that either relies on federal law or rule changes or local governments to realize the savings for which the commission takes credit. For example:
- The report suggests requiring photo ID’s to be added to the Quest FoodShare card, yet readily admits that federal policies require the state to “permit all members of a household to use that card, reducing the effectiveness of any enforcement efforts.” In fact, we believe applying a photo to the Quest card will only result in confusion at checkout aisles in grocery stores across the state, resulting in families in need being denied the very food they need to survive. This suggestion is inconsiderate, lacking of human compassion and illogical. Yet, Republicans, in their haste to require a photo ID on almost everything these days, suggest it in their report.
- In its court debt collection section, the Republicans recommend passage of H.R. 1416, and then take credit for the $5.4 – $27 million in savings passage of this piece of federal legislation would create. We find this tactic outlandish, sloppy and misleading, as none of the commission members are elected to federal office. Thus, this commission has no control over passage of federal law and therefore cannot take credit for any savings changes in federal law would realize.
Further skewing the Republican report’s final figures is that they take credit for previous actions of state agencies, Governor Walker or the Legislature. For example:
- The section on overtime rules for public workers takes credit for changes already set in motion by the Republican anti-collective bargaining 2011 Act 10. In fact, the commission’s report indicates their own recommendations are already under way, yet they take credit for future savings already put into motion by Governor Walker’s union busting efforts.
- In its integrity section, the report admits the Department of Health Services has already “identified inefficiencies in the eligibility determination system for public benefits, which, if corrected, will reduce program costs by $40 million per year.” Yet, the commission takes credit for finding these savings.
- Governor Walker’s report takes credit for “A plan adopted in the FY 2011-13 biennial budget bill by the Joint Committee on Finance,” that requires counties to form up to ten consortia through the state to streamline the eligibility determination process for health and human services. The 2011-2013 biennial budget was passed six months ago.
- Governor Walker’s report continues a Democratic initiative in the 2009-11 biennial budget to hire more Department of Revenue agents to collect additional back taxes, despite Republican opposition of additional agents at the time, calling it a “tax increase.” However, the Walker administration recently announced it would lapse more than $2 million in funds from the Department of Revenue that are supposed to be used to clamp down on tax cheats, which will presumably cost the state revenue in the long-run.
- While we were led to believe the commission was going to find new savings through clamping down on waste, fraud and abuse in state government, $50 million of the report relies upon a suggestion that the state require agencies to lapse funds each year, something that both Democratic and Republican legislatures and Governors have required in various amounts for the last several biennial budgets. This is hardly the kind of innovative idea that we were led to believe this commission would uncover, nor does it address waste, fraud or abuse of government.
More from the report (PDF)
Maybe Walker will resubmit another report before he’s recalled.