Scott Walker Watch

Cronyism in Scottwalkerstan

According to a new report from The Associated Press, a bonus program resurrected by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has doled out three quarters of a million dollars in bonuses to select state employees.

An analysis of data The Associated Press obtained through an open records request showed Wisconsin agencies have handed out more than $765,000 in bonuses and merit raises this year to nearly 220 employees.

The money was awarded under a program former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle suspended but Walker reinstated last year. The money is meant to reward stellar performance, but it comes as the state faces a $143 million shortfall and after thousands of state workers took pay cuts through provisions in the collective bargaining law requiring them to contribute more to their pensions and health care. [...]

According to the AP analysis, 218 employees across nine agencies received raises or bonuses adding up to $765,195 between Jan. 1 and Tuesday.

The state Department of Justice, which couldn't find enough money to fully fund services for sexual assault victims last year, was the biggest spender, giving out nearly $300,000 to 94 workers.

Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar, who defended Walker's collective bargaining law in an open meetings challenge and has handled the state's defense of Republican redistricting legislation, got a $1,000 bonus and a $1.50-an-hour raise in March, bumping her salary by more than $3,000 to $104,730.

Deputy Attorney General Kevin St. John, who defended the collective bargaining law in front of the state Supreme Court, got a $2.51-an-hour raise in March that adds up to more than $5,000 per year and brings his pay to $134,307.

The wages of the average state worker have either been cut or stagnated, while those at the top of the system have seen raises and bonuses. Sound familiar?

It sounds like the state is being run "like a business."

To be fair, these's aren't mindblowing raises, however the circumstances leading up to them makes them look awfully unsavory.

This comes after Scott Walker and his loyal henchmen cut over $800 million from the state's education budget, amounting to $615 per student, forcing layoffs and early retirement for thousands of teachers while also increasing maximum class size to 60 students.

It also follows over $500 million in cuts to the state Medicaid program, which resulted in the loss of another $500 million in federal matching funds.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Justice, which tried to charge sexual assault victims for rape-kits last year, handed out the biggest bonuses.

Despite the implementation of Scott Walker's austerity agenda, the state is still projecting a budget shortfall of $143 million, mainly due to the new corporate tax cuts signed into law last year.