Gov. Scott Walker has repeatedly assured Wisconsinites that his assaults on local democracy, public services, public education and collective bargaining rights would create jobs and prosperity.
In contrast, the governor has argued, the decision of Illinois officials to tackle budget challenges with fair tax policies, respect for public employees and efforts to maintain services would cause doom and gloom for that state.
The Illinois comparison has been a constant in Walker’s speeches, media appearances and press releases since January. The governor has been unrelenting in his claim that the best measure of Wisconsin’s progress when it comes to job creation is against Illinois.
“They didn’t fix the problems,” Walker ranted in May with regard to Illinois officials. “In contrast, we’ve done that. And I believe that’s going to help us attract not only businesses coming in from Illinois (but) reassure employers here in the state of Wisconsin that this is the place, now is the time, to grow.”
This has been Walker’s steady mantra, repeated as recently as this month when he traveled to Chicago.
Unfortunately for Walker — and for the state that suffers under his misdirection — the measure has been made.
And the governor has been proven wrong. Way wrong.
The October jobs figures for the United States were just released. Illinois led the nation in job creation, adding 30,000 new jobs.
And what about Wisconsin?
Under Walker, Wisconsin now leads the nation in job losses.
In fact, of the states that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics described as experiencing “statistically significant unemployment changes” in October, only one actually lost jobs: Wisconsin.
Wisconsin lost 9,700 jobs in October, almost all of them in the private sector.
But that is not the worst news. The worst news is that the job losses are part of a pattern that began around the time that Walker’s “reforms” took hold.
Wisconsin did not just lose jobs in October.
Wisconsin lost jobs in September.
Wisconsin lost jobs in August.
Wisconsin lost jobs in July.
Back in May, when Walker was bragging about how he had “fixed” Wisconsin, the latest figures put the state’s unemployment rate at 7.3 percent.
Now, the latest figures put the rate at 7.7 percent.
How does that compare with the national average? During the same period when unemployment went down one-tenth of a percentage point nationally, it rose four-tenths of a percent under Scott Walker.
There are a lot of reasons why Wisconsinites are lining up to sign recall petitions. Citizens are concerned about the governor’s assaults on basic rights and his undermining of the authority of elected schools boards and town boards. They are angry that he said one thing on the campaign trail in 2010 and did something else altogether as governor.
But the damage the governor’s policies have done to Wisconsin’s economy is no small factor in the popularity of the recall movement. When Illinois is creating jobs while our state is losing them, it is clear that Walker isn’t working for Wisconsin.
John Nichols is the associate editor of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org