Dec. 29, 2023
After reading MacIver’s top ten lists for 2023 over the past couple of weeks, you might have picked up on some pretty obvious foreshadowing. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see some of the big issues that lie ahead in 2024, but you still have to pay attention. That’s why we wrap up our top ten lists this year with the top ten looming threats in the year ahead.
10. Campaigning on Abortion
According to the Marquette University Law School Poll, the overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites support abortion to some degree. Only 9% of Wisconsinites oppose abortion in all cases. Democrats have figured out that not only do most Wisconsin voters support abortion, but also that it is the most important issue that they care about. And so, abortion has become a platform for Wisconsin Democrats, which has delivered them victory after victory at the ballot box. Anytime a Republican even mentions the word abortion, Democrats seize upon the opportunity to whip their supporters into a frenzy. Right before Christmas, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he’d like to see abortion limited to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In Wisconsin, abortion is currently allowed up to 20 weeks. Gov. Evers immediately issued a video statement reaffirming his commitment to abortion.
The threat here is the left will continue to successfully to exploit the impasse – a governor who wants no restrictions, and legislative majorities more comfortable with the status quo than passing new legislation – by dragging out any court decisions past the 2024 elections.
9. Overturning Act 10
The election of a liberal majority to the state supreme court has opened up a world of possibilities for the left in Wisconsin. Long abandoned causes suddenly have new life. Take Act 10, for example. That law ended the public sector unions’ stranglehold on state and local government in Wisconsin. Several legal challenges all ended in defeat. It seemed like Act 10 was here to stay and that everyone had moved on. Local governments got used to balancing their budgets without having to make draconian cuts, public employees got used to not being laid off or furloughed, and the state got used to annual budget surpluses. The MacIver Institute estimates that Act 10 has saved state and local taxpayers $16.8 billion since 2012. Despite these results, the unions never conceded. They’re now suing the state once again, hoping the liberals on the supreme court will blindly grant their long held wish. Wisconsin liberals are quickly rallying to their cause.
Under Act 10, public employees contribute less than half what the average worker does toward their health care and taxpayers foot the bill for benefits far more lavish than they have themselves. But the left has never stopped resenting that taxpayers pay too little. If these reforms are undone in the courts, the threat is higher taxes, bigger government, and less accountability.
8. Education Failures and Attacks on School Choice
Wisconsin conservatives scored an unlikely victory in 2023 when Gov. Evers signed a law increasing school choice funding by $300 million as part of a compromise with Republican lawmakers to bailout Milwaukee. That apparently hasn’t phased liberals, who are still gunning for the program that enables disadvantaged children to attend private schools instead of their failing local public schools. Encouraged by the election of a liberal supreme court, they’re hoping a lawsuit will deliver them the ultimate victory. Fortunately, the court already turned down an attempt by the owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company. Don’t expect that setback to discourage others from following his lead in the year ahead.
More than half of Wisconsin kids can’t preform at their own grade level in basic subjects like English and math. Those children are pushed to go on to college (incurring debt to do so) where they require remedial assistance before they can even manage 100-level coursework. Employers are desperate for skilled workers while schools are teaching kids to be hypersexualized race-haters.
While the left is claiming the teacher shortage is being driven by lack of money – even while investments in education are on a steady increase even with declining enrollment and declining achievement – the fact is many would-be educators cannot bear to pursue a career in a field where they will be forced to teach children they are racist based on the color of their skin, forced to conceal a child’s health information from parents, and forced to provide graphic, even illustrated sexual materials to children knowing they will have zero support from the educrats at DPI in teaching kids to read do basic math.
The threat is clear – the left has hijacked schools, abandoned any pretense of educating children, instead creating indoctrination factories, working harder to fight school choice than to teach kids to read; meanwhile our kids, our workforce and our economy suffers.
7. Rising Crime
The MacIver Institute spends a lot of time tracking and reporting about the rise in violent crime throughout Wisconsin. Part of what makes this topic so frustrating are the public policies that enable this trend. For example, this past year, MacIver News reported how Milwaukee County likes to send juvenile offenders to a special rehabilitation program at Vel Phillips High School in Wauwatosa. Instead of reforming them, those young people graduate from the program and go on to commit even more brutal crimes. For example, last year one of the program’s graduates, Omarion Danielson, was charged with murdering a mother on Christmas Eve in front of her son. MacIver has also called attention to under-charging, plea bargains, and lenient sentences that are all contributing to the rise in crime. Don’t expect liberal prosecutors to change their ways any time soon.
And while violent crime rates have stopped increasing, the levels of murder, rape and assault remain higher than pre-pandemic levels. There were 80% more homicides in 2022 than in 2018, 2% more rapes and 12% more assaults. Yet there’s been little legislation to stop Scold and Release policies of the left, and what little there was has been summarily vetoed by the Felons Best Friend Governor Evers. And leftists in public health departments are spending public funds telling people how to commit crimes more safely. The threat here is communities and neighborhoods that are more dangerous.
6. Court Ordered Gerrymandering
One of the top priorities for Wisconsin’s new liberal majority on the supreme court was to redraw voting districts to help flip the state legislature from Republican to Democrat. They quickly found a golden opportunity. The state constitution requires voting districts to be contiguous. Unfortunately, the voting districts that the legislature drew up after the last census are very obviously not contiguous. It was a slam dunk case decided right before Christmas. The court directed the legislature to redraw the maps within two weeks. If they fail to deliver, or if Gov. Evers vetoes them (which he will), the court will draw new maps. Those maps might not be able to get Democrats over the finish line alone, but they’re sure to get Democrat candidates off to a promising start.
With the recent appointment of a map-drawing team including a ‘specialist’ who trained at the feet of Sam Wang (the Princeton professor and gerrymanderer whose staff levied accusations of rigging maps to favor democrats) the fix is in and the only question that remains is how egregious the democrat gerrymander will be.
The threat here is the new
State Supreme Court Super-Legislature redrawing legislative districts to obtain partisan advantage for the left, election integrity, improvements in education and tax relief, are just the beginning of what’s at stake.
5. Taxpayers Still Waiting for Tax Cuts
When the state found itself with a $7 billion surplus, both Republicans and Democrats agreed that taxpayers deserved a tax cut. Naturally, they did not agree on how to do it. Republicans proposed large rate cuts that would have benefited all taxpayers. Democrats proposed new credits that would have only benefited lower and lower-middle class taxpayers and by far less than Republicans proposed. It was a standoff. And so, instead of cutting taxes, lawmakers proceeded to take care of all their special interest groups (including local government spenders) hiking state spending by over 11%.
Their spending spree made a small dent in the historic surplus, but the governor has vetoed substantive middle-class tax cuts twice. The state still has a sizable surplus, and both sides continue to push their plans. Republicans seem poised to come back with a tax cut for retirees only with no promise the governor will sign even this targeted relief.
The threat to taxpayers is that they won’t get their money back in the form of tax relief, and instead will endure a flurry of government spending in the next 3 months as the $4 billion surplus is irresistible to legislators going into elections in new seats.
4. Voter Confidence
There’s little reason for Wisconsin voters to be confident in the state’s election process heading into a volatile 2024 election cycle. Democrats fought off every attempt by Republicans to restore trust and transparency in the system. Political operatives who subverted Wisconsin’s 2020 election were never brought to justice (even though there’s a Republican DA in Green Bay). Perhaps most incredibly, Wisconsin’s elections are at the mercy of Megan Wolfe, whose term as Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator ended in June, and yet she’s still in charge. The legislature is apparently helpless to do anything about it. The governor and attorney general refuse to do anything about it. None of this offers any encouragement that 2024’s election will go smoothly.
With the governor vetoing nearly every election integrity bill that comes to his desk, the legislature has taken to drafting common-sense reforms as constitutional amendments, believing voters want to restore honest elections even if the governor does not. These are multi-year efforts and multiple elections will be held while things like requiring citizenship and voter ID to vote are working their way through the process. While we wait on reforms, the threat is the left will keep finding new ways to make it easier to cheat and harder to trust in our elections.
3. Ranked Choice Voting
Wisconsin already faces many challenges in convincing voters to trust its election system. Now, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are proposing a new system to make voting even more complicated, confusing, and suspicious. Ranked Choice Voting would replace our current system where the candidate with the most votes wins, with a new system that relies on each voter getting multiple votes, and there are multiple rounds of counting where many voters are disenfranchised by election officials tossing out their ballots during rounds of counting. Ranked Choice Voting leaves voters confused, frustrated, and mostly, represented by Democrats.
So deep-pocket, left-wing activists – the same ‘big thinkers’ who were all in on the Zuckerbucks scam – are looking to exploit naïve Republicans to upend our one-person-one-vote elections. They’re speaking out of both sides of their mouths, promising some on the right that Ranked Choice Voting will elect more moderates, while promising others it would have helped Trump. Their strategy – combining campaign cash with phony promises – is paying off. While Republicans in other states are banning Ranked Choice Voting, no hearing is scheduled in either house on a plan to ban it here. Instead, Wisconsin Republicans are heading the opposite direction, shepherding a bill through the process to make it law.
Unless smarter heads prevail, the left is only a session or two from delivering a new election system in Wisconsin.
2. Sex Change Procedures for Children
Throughout 2023 Wisconsin liberals open argued that children should be allowed to have sex change procedures. 2024 is sure to see the left introduce even more radical proposals that energize their voters while mocking conservatives’ inability to do anything about it.
The left has made gender mutilation and chemical castration of children a centerpiece of their agenda. Conservatives might think that’s an indefensible position that no one in their right mind could possibly get behind, mistakenly believing this is the issue that will expose and destroy the left once and for all. Instead, criticism from the right actually seems to be emboldening the left to double down on their position.
The damage to young bodies and minds are the biggest, but not the only, casualties. The harm being done in the field of medicine by the ideology-based rejection of basic scientific principles like gender will last for generations. And that doesn’t begin to count the financial costs to our health care system – paid by higher insurance rates and more government spending.
The threat here is a mindset that allows state-sponsored medical experimentation on children no matter the cost to them, or to society.
1. Out of Control Taxes
The sales tax in Milwaukee is about to hit 7.9% thanks to a century of Democrat control there, aided and abetted by Republicans in the legislature. Voters there will complain and ultimately find a way to blame Republicans. There are no surprises in how that’s going to play out. What might surprise you, who live outside Milwaukee, that you’re in for a tax shock of your own. Remember the Covid relief funds that were supposed to help schools set up virtual classroom? It turns out many school districts plowed that money into their general operating budget. Now that the relief funds are expiring, those same school districts are planning on referendums to fill the gap. Over the past five years, 79% of school operating referendums in Wisconsin have passed. So, if you get that School Perceptions survey in the mail, you know what comes next.
With inflation continuing to pinch family budgets, broad tax relief strict controls on government spending (preferably cuts) are what’s needed. Instead, local property taxes jumped this year on top of massive – 37% – increases of state aid to locals (a cash dump that came on top of the billions in Covid aid to locals.) And 2023 property taxes jumped 4.7%, the highest jump since 2007. While the hike will be partially offset by state credits (which are ALSO tax dollars) depending on where you live you can expect to pay a little to a lot more.
It’s so bad that even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said something:
And don’t forget that the state is still sitting on a surplus of $4 billion of your tax dollars. That’s $4 billion that you overpaid for already-bloated government spending while taxes are going up.