Archives for posts with tag: politics

A couple of days ago I posted this video of Scott Walker telling the stirring tale of the recall effort that led to his successful campaign for Milwaukee County Executive. I said that with a few edits, this would be a wonderful campaign ad for Walker’s own recall in a few months.  Well, thanks to the giver of all things, the internet, a clever person has in fact edited the video for just that purpose.  It still includes the majority of Walker’s recall = people taking back the government speech, but instead of featuring Walker’s insufferable mug, his voice is recorded over scenes from the ongoing protests at the capitol. The result is truly inspiring.  (Hat tip, AV Club.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Today’s news summary will be a bit harried, as I have a pint of Guinness waiting for me in a darkened pub.  As always, an archive of news clips related to Fitzwalkerstan is available on my “Save the State” page. Here are today’s highlights:

1. Governor Walker will balance his budget on the back of poor sick people

In light of the centuries of oppression and poverty endured by the Irish, today is as good as any to point out that Governor Walker’s budget will do the most harm to the most vulnerable in our community.  They will see tax increases, decreases in education and training funding, healthcare cuts and possibly death. That’s not an exaggeration, read my full post on it.   But, hey, at least the state will have more funding for their funerals!

2. More lawsuits, more ethics inquiries

Today, local activist Ben Masel filed a lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the state’s new event permitting process at the Capitol. Yes, he’s a marijuana activist, but in Madison our marijuana activists are informed and they know the law.

Also the Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board over Governor Walker’s meeting with a national republican pollster at the State Capitol.

3. Governor Walker and Wisconsin GOP leaders went to D.C. for a political payoff after “winning” against unions

Just in case you thought the republicans’ policies were based on doing what they think is best from Wisconsin, Governor Walker and the state GOP leadership went out to D.C. last night to receive a massive payout from Washington-based lobbyists and other corporate donors as a thank-you for ramming through Governor Walker’s anti-worker legislation last week. Amazingly, some in the GOP refrained from this payday, which could be a signal that some republicans actually care what people in Wisconsin think about them. From the Capital Times:

Absent from the gathering were the other 16 Republican state senators, including Senate President Mike Ellis, who took the lead in forcing majority leader Fitzgerald to back off his attempt to deny Democratic senators the vote. Capitol aides say that Ellis and a number of other senior senators have grown increasingly ill at ease with Fitzgerald’s erratic behavior and with his inability to recognize the damage that could be done to Republicans by flying into Washington to pick up corporate money in return for passing Walker’s plan.

“There’s just no way to spin this as a positive,” said one aide, who suggested that Ellis would look “like a bagman.”

(Notably, Congressman Sean Duffy, a Republican from northern Wisconsin, contacted media outlets to emphasize that he had not been invited to the event and would not be attending.)

As with anything Governor Walker does lately, there was a large protest outside the D.C.  fundraiser.  Visit dane101 for some some great pictures.

In perhaps the scariest article yet about Governor Walker’s budget proposals, Shawn Doherty with the Capital Times today drew attention to the fact that under Walker’s budget proposals, healthcare coverage for low-income people would take massive cuts.  This includes cuts to care for some life-threatening diseases such as End Stage Renal Disease and a rare disease called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei.  Without these treatments, Wisconsin residents with these diseases will die, which is probably why, as the Doherty pointedly illustrates, the Governor has requested a  $250,000 increase in funding for “funeral and cemetery aids” for low-income people.  That’s right, in Walker’s Wisconsin, the state will no longer pay for the healthcare that keeps you alive, but it will pay for your funeral, because that’s cheaper.  From the Capital Times:

The governor’s budget steps up payments for funerals for people on Medicaid even as it cuts nearly $500 million from the health programs that serve 1.2 million statewide.

Green, 45, is worried she could be one of them if she loses coverage through the state’s BadgerCare program.

The Manitowoc mom suffers from a rare disease called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei that requires surgeries every couple of years and regular monitoring with CAT scans. Last year, her medical costs totaled $140,000. Without help from the state’s public health programs, she says, she would have died. She still will die if she doesn’t get such help again, Green says. Her tumors are sure to return and require surgery in a year or so. After seven or eight of these operations, she says, the disease is usually terminal.

I am unemployed and have little money, but I am willing to pay more of what I do have if it means keeping people on healthcare that will save their lives.  I think it is wrong and disgusting for a government to prioritize any other spending over programs that protect our most vulnerable residents. Killing people is not a Medicaid efficiency.  Also interesting, according to the Capital Times, Governor Walker is not the only Republican governor to think it’s okay for a state to allow poor residents to die because of other funding priorities:

While kicking people off Medicaid who could die as a result may have once seemed unthinkable, it is happening in Arizona, where Republican Gov. Jan Brewer removed nearly 100 patients from organ transplant waiting lists late last year. (Interestingly, Brewer is now the subject of recall efforts for her defunding of Medicaid, which critics equate to “death panels of the poor.”) At least two of these patients have since died. Last December I wrote a blog post on this Arizona situation titled “Death by Budget Cut,” asking if our Medicaid patients in Wisconsin might face a similar fate.

This is the grimmest addition to what is now a clear pattern of Governor Walker targeting low-income people for budget cutting measures.  In addition to letting poor people die, Governor Walker’s budget proposals could force low-income seniors to lose drug coverage, it cuts family planning services for low-income people, and it puts talented, disabled adults at risk of being institutionalized because the state will no longer pay for the quality care that allows them to stay in their homes.  You may have heard Governor Walker say that his budget doesn’t raise taxes, but some Wisconsin residents will see tax increases under Walker’s budget proposal.  Guess who takes the hit? That’s right, the working poor.  And just yesterday we learned that Governor Walker’s education budget formula favors funding for wealthy districts, while cutting Milwaukee Public Schools (lots of poor kids go there) by 8%. For more details see this list by the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families.

Societies are often judged by how they treat their most vulnerable residents; under Governor Walker’s leadership we will deserve nothing but scorn.

In this amazing political ad from the 2010 republican primary for governor, then-candidate Scott Walker gives a pretty moving summation as to why he should be recalled later this year. In the ad, candidate Walker weaves us a tale about a people so shocked by one leader’s  poor stewardship and reckless cronyism that the people joined together to recall that leader.  As candidate Walker will tell you, it was not about anger, but about the people taking back their government so that it would once again reflect the wishes of its constituents.  Obviously, candidate Walker was referring to the recall election in Milwaukee County that led to his becoming County Executive, but as people on Twitter pointed out, with a few edits (we’d have to cut off the last minute as he starts spewing some confusing Walker logic) this really could be the first ad for the petition campaign to recall Governor Walker. Plus there’s Braveheart music and shadowy lighting:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As always, for those of you trying to keep track of the State of Wisconsin’s grievances against Scott Walker and the republican leadership, please visit my “Save the State” page, which is regularly updated to help everyone stay informed about these crucial issues.

 

March 1st was a busy day for many of us in Wisconsin. Around 4:00 p.m. Governor Walker gave his biennial budget address to a supportive audience of republicans and lobbyists hoping to extract money from republicans.  I was at the Capitol, but couldn’t get in because the Capitol at that point was locked down to people who do not agree with Scott Walker. So I was outside in the cold shouting “Shame!” instead of inside hearing how the Governor plans to weaken public education, but provide more tax cuts for corporations!  Yay??

(By the way, you can learn all about the Governor’s budget proposal on my “Save the State” page.  In a nutshell, it’s bad for the middle-class, but terrifying for the working poor.)

For most of us, the evening of March 1st was spent sifting though the budget and newspaper articles about the budget to determine if we’d still have health care, which of our kids’ school programs would be cut, whether or not we’d be laid off, or if our unemployment insurance would get cut off, or whether grandma could still afford to stay in her home, and on and on.  It was a bad night for those of us in the middle- and working-classes.  On March 1st the governor made it clear that he would balance his budget on the backs of us, our families and the people most at risk in our community.

But for Governor Walker, it was a totally relaxing night! After he finally got that annoying speech done, he announced to Twitter (see above) that he had a great night eating chili with the Mrs. and watching the boob tube. The tweet asked for derision and derided it was.  (Currently there is an inactive Twitter account titled Chili with Tonette.)

But this is not the first embarrassing Tweet from our Governor.  Here he is in February after the Packers’ Superbowl win and shortly before announcing that he would remove bargaining and union rights for most public employees:

Yes, for our Governor, winning the election and serving as Governor is like one long confetti-streaming party!  Woo-hoooooo! Packers win! Yeaaahh! Tax increases on the working poor! My life is awwwessoome!

Many times Walker’s tweets construct  some alternate Wisconsin reality that distracts us from what’s actually going on in this state under his leadership.  On Saturday, while over 100,000 of us gathered to protest his middle-class harming policies, the Governor tweeted:

Wow, glad the suburbanites in the mall by the country club liked your haircut and have the same level of disdain for working-class people as you do, Governor.

Anger and confusion are emotions almost universally triggered by Governor Walker’s Twitter account.  Here’s a typical moment from Sunday:

In a matter of tweets the Governor endorses a misleading column by a conservative commentator, finally acknowledges the crisis in Japan after two days of silence and then links to a discredited attack ad against working middle-class people funded by Karl Rove’s organization.  That’s our governor, politicking during tragedy and attacking his own constituents.

Of course, Scott Walker’s Twitter feed is ripe for satire, and satirized it is, frequently, on Twitter.  By my count there are at least twelve satirical Walker accounts that regularly mock Walker.

Most mock Walker’s policies, his arrogance, his questionable intelligence  and the overall tone-deafness he demonstrates when dealing with the public:

FakeGovWalker has bit more wit than most of the satirical accounts,  but is not as prolific as it should be:

RealGovWalker restates every GovWalker tweet in a way that makes sense to those of us who don’t understand Republican Newspeak:

GovWalkerHaiku strikes similar chords, but in, well, haiku form:

Others focus on Walker’s perceived insensitivity:

Fitzwalkerstan mocks the draconian policies of the Walker administration. (The handle refers to an angry quote by my Rep., Mark Pocan, who exclaimed last week on the Assembly floor that Walker and the Republican leaders, the Fitzgerald brothers, were turning Wisconsin into Fitzwalkerstan):

But with so many satire flags already on one man, it makes sense that some would chose to claim parts:

While others state their claim on the governor’s accessories:

WIGovPR focuses on the Walker Administration’s often incomprehensible PR strategy:

This is a bit of an aside, but if you ever want to read what it would sound like if  Governor Walker was criticized by a politically-shrewd dog, RexPoliticalDog has you covered:

But perhaps of most importance, there is one Governor Walker account that had been silent since December but emerged yesterday from its moth-balled closet. Governor Walker’s campaign account, which he uses to link to his fundraising page, sprung back to life yesterday (Was it on a state computer or his blackberry? Will the press ask?). Take this as a sign that Governor Walker is starting to understand the recall threat against him and his colleagues is very, very real:

Sewing the seeds for a big season of recalls

In perhaps the most awe-inspiring show of solidarity since Wisconsinites began protesting Governor Scott Walker’s extreme budget measures nearly a month ago, farmers from across the state joined protesters in a tractorcade around the Capitol Square.  It was the start of what would prove to be the largest day yet of protests, despite the Governor signing on Friday his controversial proposal to strip public employees of most union rights.

For the farmers who made it to the capitol, it was not only a chance to show solidarity with the other Wisconsin working families but also an opportunity draw attention to the potential impacts Walker’s  proposals will have on Wisconsin farm families. From the Capital Times:

“This isn’t us versus them, with farmers siding with union employees,” says Scott Schultz, executive director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. “In rural farm communities, Walker’s budget is hitting home in a number of ways.”

Although unions and collective bargaining have strong roots in the farm industry — the Wisconsin Farmers Union began in the 1930s — Peck says Saturday’s rallies are about more than preserving union rights.

Peck says many of those coming to Madison are upset by the realization that Walker’s agenda is “sacrificing Wisconsin’s quality of life for everyone, not just unions.”

“There are other things going on here. If BadgerCare is wiped out or scaled back, a lot of these people won’t have health care anymore,” Peck says.

Roughly 11,000, or one in seven, farmers and their family members receive health coverage through BadgerCare, according to the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

In additional to sharply curtailed healthcare access, under Governor Walker’s budget proposals rural communities may face a public education crisis.  Governor Walker’s budget cuts hundreds of millions from public education in the state (interestingly, it raises funding for charter and choice school).  But Walker’s budget does not give school districts any tools to increase revenues to offset cuts and instead only allows districts to cut (obviously Walker prefers the cuts to come out of the paychecks of middle-class teachers). But for very rural districts with fewer services and even fewer teachers, it will be hard to find enough to cut without dramatically impacting the quality of education rural students receive.  For a wealthier district, or districts closer to larger cities, it might be possible to consolidate services with other schools to find cuts.  But for rural schools, where students are often already bused for miles to attend a single high school that serves many farm communities, it will also be difficult to find more ways to consolidate without risking rural students’ ability to access comparable services.

Without good school systems, many rural communities may see dwindling populations as those who can afford to move to areas with better services will be far more likely to do so. For the rural students whose parents can not move, it will mean they no longer have access to the same level of education and opportunity as their suburban counterparts. For the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites, like myself, who descend from Wisconsin farm families and who share a deep passion for preserving Wisconsin’s family farm culture, Walker’s budget proposals will lead to a devastating and potentially irreversible disintegration of the lifestyle that brought our ancestors across oceans to sew Wisconsin’s rich farmland. Walker’s proposals are a betrayal of our fundamental support of rural living and truly shows that his values and not Wisconsin values.

Below are more images from Saturday’s Tractorcade:

4th Generation Badger with this tractor

One little legislator at a time

An "S" and a "Y" spell solidarity

Hope sustains Wisconsin farmers

Okay, welfare queens, pick your uterus up by it bootstraps

Today, March 8th, marks the 100th celebration of International Women’s Day.  And what better day to point  out that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal would eliminate all state funding for family planning services for low-income people.  That’s right, apparently the math in Governor Walker’s mind tells him that the state funding condoms and generic versions of orto-tri-cyclen costs more than the state funding life-long public assistance programs for unwanted children.  That’s our gov, always using his big brain!

Here’s the thing, as with many of the Governor’s proposals, this brain-dead logic has nothing to do with the cost to run a program, but has everything to do with complying with the GOP’s national platform.  Walker is in fact just copying the “big boys” in Washington D.C.  The GOP is attempting to rile up its Pro-Life base for 2012 by claiming that their move to defund Planned Parenthood and family planning clinics is really a move to stop the public funding of abortion.  But what Scott Walker and his D.C. counterparts ignore is that federal and state laws already prohibit the public funding of abortion.

But that’s not stopping local pro-lifers from backing these measures.  From the Capital Times:

Federal law, however, prohibits the use of federal dollars for abortion services, as does Wisconsin law, so none of the funds targeted in Walker’s budget are used to fund abortion services.

Barbara Lyons, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life, nevertheless insists that Planned Parenthood uses taxpayer dollars to help “underwrite” its abortion practices.

But isn’t the whole point of family planning and contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies and, subsequently, abortions? Aren’t these pro-lifers actually backing policies that give them more of what they don’t want?

Like most poorly-reasoned Republican base-bating proposals, Scott Walker’s proposal will have dire consequences in Wisconsin.  Walker’s anti-family planning budget will cut numerous critical public health programs for low-income families in our state, which actually makes Wisconsin vulnerable to losing millions in federal matching dollars. Further, Walker’s proposals will restrict low-income people’s access to health care and will limit their ability to plan when and how to have children:

Sara Finger, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, says about 50 centers around the state would be affected by the elimination of family planning dollars. These centers, which treat men and women, provide cervical, breast and prostate screenings, sexually transmitted disease screening and treatment and access to birth control.

Walker’s budget proposal, she says, “has the threat of dismantling the family planning infrastructure in the state.”

One thing can be said about Governor Walker’s budget, his plan to cut family planning,  disease testing and treatment certainly holds fast to the national GOP platform: Big government in the bedroom, little government where you actually need it.

This week Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker continued his undeclared war on the majority of Wisconsinites by announcing a budget aimed at cutting public education, environmental protections, support of local governments and safety net services for the poor and disabled.  Apparently Governor Walker’s plan for creating 250,000 jobs is to start by ensuring the elimination of about 100,000 of them first and essentially destroying Wisconsin’s quality of life??

But never fear, not everyone in Wisconsin will feel the pain. The Governor’s budget gives an additional $400 million in funding to transportation!  But by transportation I mean only road building, as the Governor’s proposed budget would also decimate bus systems and pedestrian/bike programs. I’m sure this “improved” funding for road builders is all about job creation or something and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that road builders gave over $120,000 to Governor Walker’s campaign–making them one of his largest donors.

At the bottom of the page is a run-down of some of the budget info I’ve compiled over last couple of days. But it is very, very bad.  Huge cuts to education (the poorest districts will suffer the most).  But more funding to choice and charter schools–so rich people in the Republican Milwaukee suburbs will be set! Major cuts to environmental programs, like recycling?? Cuts, to local government with the aim of forcing them to cut salary and benefits for teachers.  It’s truly reprehensible. You can find out all about the budget proposal PLUS information about the battle to save unions on my “Save the State” page.  I will update it as the debates and battles continue.  In the meantime, here’s an ad from Bold Progressives, which supports ActBlue (which is raising money for the 14 Dem Senators in Illinois and to get the word out across the state about the devastation contained within the Governor’s proposals).

2011-2013 Biennial Budget (By Subject)

General

MJS–The new normal of sacrifice

Politifact: Scott Walker says Wisconsin is broke (Ruling: False)

Governor Walker’s budget cuts would reshape the state

Cieslewicz, Falk blast Walker’s budget plans

In Madison–Governor Walker packed his budget address with ringers

Scott Walker’s Budget Address: The ego has landed

Transformative, yes, but is this budget fair?

Wispolitics Budget Blog

Transcript–Scott Walker’s Budget Address

Department of Administration Budget Page

Education (K-12, UW-System, Charter Schools, Technical Colleges)

State actions have local teachers weighing retirement

MJS–Don’t forget students when mulling what’s next for MPS

MJS–Wisconsin school districts studying impact of proposed cuts

MJS–MPS has to cut $74 million more

Facing cut to state aid: MATC officials wonder how they’ll pay for new buildings

Walker’s war on equality

Walker’s budget hits MATC hard

Budget cuts hundreds of millions from schools

University of Wisconsin System faces $250 million in cuts, restructuring

Walker plans to phase out Wisconsin Covenant

Budget would take more than $20 million from Madison schools

Walker gives charter more chance

Good news, bad news for UW tuition

Local Governments

Municipal, county governments target of large cuts in Walker budget

Health Care (Medicaid, Badger Care, Women’s Health)

CT–Guess why Walker wants to freeze State Life Fund

MJS–Experimentation yes, but done with transparency

CT–Right-to-lifers are on cloud nine

MJS–Women’s health–Culture war redux

Advocates for people on Medicaid pan Walker’s budget speech

Walker’s budget removes insurance requirement to cover birth control

Budget aims to end growth of Medicaid programs in the state

Taxes

Walker’s budget slashes that aid poor

Walker’s proposed capital gains tax breaks get lukewarm backing

Environmental Issues

CT–Energy Programs get Walker ax

Walker budget would eliminate office of energy independence (Also pulls back on mandates for agencies to use less gas)

State recycling mandate, funding eliminated under Walker’s budget

Walker’s budget removes $1.1 million for recycling in Madison

Transportation

MJS–Busting Bus Systems

Walker budget eliminates money for bike/pedestrian improvements

Full speed ahead for Zoo Interchange

Other

State pension shift faces a 401 (k) turn

Ethan Allen closing stows hope

Walker’s budget all but kills public financing for state supreme court elections

Budget would end early release program for non-violent prisoners

Here’s a fun use of taxpayer dollars: some of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation are proposing a bill that would rewrite federal law so that Gov-elect Walker can give back money designated for Wisconsin’s high-speed rail project and use it to “pay down the federal debt.”  It won’t help Wisconsin’s debt that much, though.  We’ll still owe $100 million dollars and will lose all those jobs we need (fewer jobs=fewer taxpayers=less revenue=more state debt).

Other than the fact that we’ll still lose jobs and money, there are some other problems with the proposed bill.  For instance, it won’t do anything to improve Wisconsin’s infrastructure, or give people more convenient ways to get around the Midwest.  A high-speed rail service would do that, though.  Also the bill is unlikely to go very far because there are all these other states (Illinois, New York, California)  that would rather have that $810 million dollars go to them for rail projects.  And their congressional delegations will vote accordingly to make sure their  citizens’ federal tax dollars go to improve American infrastructure and the business climate back home. All those other states for prosperity!

But Wisconsin, know this, your congressional delegation is there fighting for you…to be bypassed by business, growth,development, tourism and improved transportation options–all to help your Governor-elect save face.

But in happy, non-cynical train news, the Sierra Club released details on all the different Save the Train Day of Action rallies that will take place all around the state this Saturday.  All the information is available on this Facebook  page, or visit their website.

Also for those who enjoy laughing at their own misery, here’s one for you:

Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan

New Links of Interest

Activism

November 20th – Save the Train Action Day (Details and locations announced today!)

Pledge to ride the train (WISPIRG)

WPR – “Conversations with Joy Cardine” (Call WPR tomorrow morning between 7-8 AM to voice your support of high-speed rail: 1-800-642-1234)

AFL-CIO – Petition to save rail and jobs

Prorail

Wisconsin Association of Rail Passengers

Community Support

Scott McDonnell – Concerned about roads and bridges? Invest in rail.

AFL-CIO – Labor and community groups rally to save Wisconsin jobs

Citizens Action – Hundreds in Milwaukee rally to save high-speed train

Representative Grigsby – Pushes to save Wisconsin high speed rail jobs

Editorials

Hands on Wisconsin: Walker’s Train Tantrum

In praise of flip-flopping

Are we pennywise but pound foolish?

Blogs

Lubar backs Walker, high speed rail

Emily’s Post: Walker waffles on the train, RoJo observations, and the GOP ‘mandate’

Did Chicago-style Politics Kill Wisconsin’s High Speed Rail?

Canceling high-speed rail would derail jobs

Getting Back on Track

Scott Walker and high speed rail: This is why Wisconsin can’t have nice things. Or jobs.

Let’s boycott Wisconsin

Letters to the Editor

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Satire

Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan



News! So much news regarding the train today.  It seems that all of the constituent letters, phone calls, petitions, Facebook likes, letters from businesses, editorials and now rallies have made an impact on our Governor-elect.  Today it’s been reported that he is open to other rail projects being funded with the $810 million designated to start a high-speed rail extension from Milwaukee to Madison and then on to Minneapolis.  He is even open to using the money to improve the Empire Builder line (a passenger rail line that travels 30 miles north of Madison) into a high-speed passenger rail line. But he is not open to the train being connected to Madison.

Some people are hopeful that this is a sign Gov-elect Walker may be willing to compromise on the rail project and build the line after all, but I fear this should be viewed as nothing but politicking at its worst.  I fear that Walker may be calculating that if he can somehow use the money in some way that avoids improving Madison’s infrastructure (he knows it can’t be roads) then he can claim Wisconsin did not lose jobs AND claim he never built a rail line to Madison. For Walker this might seem like a “win-win” scenario. Unfortunately, for the people of Wisconsin, it would be a “lose-lose.”

As has been stated over and over again in this blog and elsewhere, the purpose of the rail project is to spend the money connecting city centers across the Midwest.  More “destination” cities in the rail system equal more possible riders.  For this money to be most effective it must be used to connect as many larger cities as possible.  It is imperative for the entire rail system in Wisconsin that Madison is connected. Here are some reasons why:

1. Madison is large and growing

Although it might be hard for people to believe, Madison is no longer a small cow town filled with people grooving out in pot circles.  Madison is all about growth and commerce. According to 2009 estimates, over a quarter of a million people live inside the City of Madison and its metro area includes 500,000 people.   For many years, Madison and its metro area have been one of the fastest growing in the state (generally only outdone by the Wisconsin counties that border Minneapolis).  Madison is the second largest city  in Wisconsin and its metro area encompasses 10% of the state’s total population.

2. Madison is the state capital

Yes, Madison is the state capital of Wisconsin and for that very reason alone it should be high-speed rail destination.  Madison has a constantly reshuffling supply of tourists, business people, politicians, lobbyists coming from all over the state to visit the State Capitol building.

3. Largest and finest university in the state

Madison is also home to one of the nation’s premier public universities with 40,000 undergraduate students.  As those of us who studied there know, Madison students generally don’t have cars. UW students live off public transportation, bikes, and their little, adorable feet.  UW-Madison also draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors a year to Madison from anything from research symposiums to sporting events.  Remember the last time you came from Milwaukee to watch a Badger football game and got totally drunk–wouldn’t a train have been nice?

4. Businesses Galore

Believe it or not, we aren’t all state employees. Madison is home to a number of major businesses: American Family Insurance, Alliant Energy, Pacific  Cycles, Cuna Mutual, Rayovac (Spectrum Brands), Epic, Sonic  Foundry,  UW Health and many other companies have offices in Madison: Google and Microsoft being two well-known examples.  There are also countless start-ups stemming from research taking place at the University.  In 2010, Forbes ranked Madison the 7th most innovative city in the country. Kiplinger ranked Madison as the 7th best city to live and work in the country. CNN Money ranked Madison the 20th best city to launch a businesses.  Businesses are here.  Businesses are coming here. Don’t you want other communities to be connected to and benefit from our growth?

5. Tourism and Conventions

Madison’s university, sporting events, businesses, conventions, recreational opportunities and festivals draw millions of visitors a year.  As someone who tries to walk on Madison’s cramped summer streets–I know.  Seriously, I’m sure some of these folks in this picture came from Milwaukee, Minneapolis or Chicago or want to go to one of those cities one day:

Let me reiterate again, for the entire rail line to be the most viable, it should be connected to larger cities.  The closest train station to Madison is a 40 minute drive away in Columbus. Don’t get me wrong, Columbus is a beautiful town that is full of great people, all 5,000 of them.  But if we build a train, shouldn’t we make sure that taxpayer money is spent on a train that will be as successful as possible.  It doesn’t make any sense to use all of that money to rebuild a rail line that already exists in a way that won’t have much effect on ridership. And in the mean time, Madison still won’t have a station and some day taxpayers will probably have to pay money again just to finally connect the line to Madison.  The money is there now. Let’s use it for what it’s been budgeted for.

Also, all of the environmental impact statements and research have been done for a line going to Madison.  All of that would need to be reworked (that costs money, like millions of dollars) should the new high-speed rail line not go through Madison.  Just something else to think about.  Frankly, I agree with all those conservatives out there. Let’s be wise with our money.  Let’s build the train through Madison.