Let’s just acknowledge the following: when you are a politician with ambitions to stay a politician, you are incapable of speaking the truth. Why? Because everything you say is meant for someone else, or some other purpose, or serves as the ever-fluid pivot to win the moment.
In Wisconsin, we are both truth challenged and spin challenged (see “drafting error“). Well, 48 hours have yet to pass and we have more hilarity, this time when said Governor took to Twitter:
Our budget changes are only 2.5% of the total UW System operating budget. 2.5%. In return, they get long-term flexibility and savings.
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) February 7, 2015
Let us respond accordingly:
Dear Office and Staff of the Governor, here is what you are highlighting in that tweet:
- How little the state’s contribution to the university system’s budget is. Full stop. You are highlighting this. Thank you.
The whole point of the “flexibility” is that the system is currently buried beneath onerous spending rules, most of which amount to “this money can’t be used to pay faculty or staff”; therefore, the cuts matter a lot to jobs and salaries, where the state dollars actually help. Pro tip: you can’t point out that even moderate flexibility on the system’s part will make this easy to cover when… the system hasn’t been granted the flexibility yet. See what I mean? Here’s what you are saying: Why aren’t we flexible so we can be flexible?
Everyone sees through this, yet that’s the familiar Wisconsin gamble–will anyone care beyond their ideological threshold?
Now, let’s review and have a contact-hour moment. For anyone interested, here is what is happening:
- The Governor’s budget claims to want a high-quality, affordable public university system.
- “Public,” by definition, means it is funded by the taxpaying public.
- The budget again calls for a massive budget cut and freezes other revenue streams, such as tuition.
Alternate Universe: We want this great public resource to be affordable, but we’re going to cut off and drain its revenue sources…because this will somehow strengthen it. You know, I want a healthy, powerful horse to ride around, and in order to achieve that I will starve my horse and lock it in a stall. Kentucky Derby, here I come!
That’s it. There’s nothing else to this story. Expect cherry-picked facts that apply only to UW-Madison to be used against the entire system and campuses like mine. The reasoning is so bad as to be hilarious, but we’ll see soon enough. Are we willing to truly support the things we say we want for our selves and neighbors?
At the very least, let’s stop with these silly, bumbling talking points and just try the truth for a while.