Walker's "update" doesn't add up

30 Dec. 2011

Thanks for the E-update and the confirmation that you do, in fact, acknowledge that I exist! While I recognize that this went out to everyone who "contacted Governor Walker’s office directly at some point during 2011," I accept it as the long-awaited recognition that you do, indeed, have my email address. It's a start!

I wanted to let you know right away, though, that I won't be sending you the gift cards you requested, as there are a number of errors (or "lies" depending on how you look at it) in your message. I know you're in California right now (gotta raise those recall election funds somewhere, eh?!) and probably have no idea what the message "you" sent even says, but I think you're going to want to send out a revised or redacted version very soon. Because you wouldn't want people to think you're an idiot. Or a liar. 

First of all, you claim in your letter that you have lowered the school portion of the property tax levy by one percent across the state, putting $228 million "back in the pockets" of Wisconsin taxpayers, which you claim "amounts to $69 for every man, woman and child in the state" just for the school portion of the tax bill.  What kind of fuzzy math is this?  Every man, woman and child?  Given the current population of Wisconsin, a $228 million difference would amount to about $40 per person, not $69. The 2010 census puts the population of Wisconsin at 5,686,986. Multiply this by $69 and you get $392,402,034 (not the $228 million you claim you put back in our pockets).  As my Dad asked, where's the other $164,402,034? In your pocket? 

This question is rhetorical, of course, because these figures - like my question - are a joke. It just doesn't add up. According to data from the Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance, Wisconsin taxpayers actually saw an increase in the tax rate ($9.84 this year, compared to $9.76) despite an overall decrease in the tax levy. In 2010-11, the school district levies statewide totaled $4,692,935,468.  In 2011-12, the total is $4,645,873,099. That's a .98 percent decrease, true: a difference of $47,062,369.  Where you got the figure of $228 million is a mystery only the person who actually writes your emails can solve.

So let's do the real math. If we divide that $47,062,369 by the 5,686,986 Wisconsin men, women and children whose pockets you care so much about, each of them saves $8.28 compared to last year. Not the $69 you claim.  (Not that even $69 a year would do anything to compensate for how much less I now take home in my paycheck, incidentally).

Eight dollars and twenty-eight cents.  That's my "savings."  That's how much I get for going along with the union busting, the demoralizing and demonizing of our hard-working teachers, the $1.6 billion in cuts to public education (on top of the fortunately miniscule reductions in local levy spending). Eight dollars and twenty-eight cents.  For my family of four, that's about $33. All of which and more, I'm sure, will be spent in the additional contributions I'll be expected to make next year to cover the things my kids' school already can't afford - like tissues and markers and notebooks and rulers and cleaning supplies and backpacks for low-income kids and dry erase markers and the little notes I have to write to teachers to remind them that not everyone really thinks they're worthless.  I expect all of this to add up to significantly more than thirty-three dollars.

Further, you don't explain how it is that we should give you, personally, credit for this, even if it were true.  How, exactly, did you put this money in our pockets? Was it by gutting public ed to the tune of $1.6 billion or by stripping teachers of their collective bargaining rights? I thought you said there was no fiscal component to that, and therefore the collective bargaining bill was sneaked in sideways outside of the budget.  Something doesn't add up here, either. Either that was a lie or you're trying to take credit for something that has nothing to do with you, neither of which are very rosy alternatives.

And for what it's worth, my own property taxes did not go down. They went up, and significantly so, due in no small part to the handiwork of our conservative City Council and Mayor John Murray (you know, the guy with no justice experience that you just appointed to be head of the Office of Justice Assistance for close to $100,000 a year?).  And our school tax levy only changed by a few cents, even though citizens had turned out in force at the annual School Board Budget Meeting and voted to raise it more to safeguard against your cuts that would force us to drop some much-needed programming.

So you might want to let people know that they aren't actually saving $69 each this year (where did you even get that number from, anyway? Did you just make it up out of thin air?). You might also not want to beg them to send you the gift cards you find such an incredibly touching gesture. I think a lot of people are still pretty mad about you not really creating any jobs and whatnot, so you kind of come off a little, um, absurd, with that request.  I'd cut that part out of the letter altogether if I were you. Because I don't think people are really in the mood to send you gift cards at the moment.

Thank you for the wishes of a happy new year.  I have very high hopes for 2012 and wish you all the best, too, in finding your new job.

Sincerely (by which I mean I sincerely cannot wait to see you recalled),
Heather DuBois Bourenane
Sun Prairie

Date: Friday, December 30, 2011 11:05:40 AM GMT-0600
Subject: E-Update from the Desk of Governor Scott Walker

E-update from the Desk of Governor Scott Walker
One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government.  In an effort to improve communication, periodically I will be sending out an e-update to provide you with more information about what is going on in state government.  Please feel free to share with this update with your family, friends and others who may be interested in state government operations.

Protecting Property Taxpayers

Throughout December homeowners received their property tax bills.  The average property tax owner saw their tax bill stay the same or decrease for the first time in years. 

Just last week I received a special letter from a Fox Valley area family.  They said they were very thankful for our reforms, and they actually enclosed a gift card for the amount their family saved on property taxes this year.  Gestures like this mean the world to me.  Everything we’ve done is to lay the groundwork for a better future for the next generation, which is why I’ll be donating the cards to various charities throughout Wisconsin.

The school portion of the property tax levy was down one percent across the state.  It’s important to point out that school tax levies increased on average $162 million a year—each of the last five years.  By comparison, this year we put $228 million back into the pockets of property taxpayers in this area alone.  That amounts to $69 for every man, woman and child in the state. 

Reforms and Results

Earlier this year long-term, structural changes were made to fill in Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit and help local units of governments balance their budget without increasing taxes. 

Simple changes have saved taxpayers millions, such as allowing local units of government and school districts to take competitive bids for public employee health insurance plans and reforming overtime rules. 

I created a website (www.reforms.wi.gov) to track examples of the savings realized from these reforms.  This website has video testimonials from local government officials talking about balancing their budgets, a breakdown of the savings in each county and a categorization of how these savings were achieved.

Reforms.wi.gov goes beyond simply listing the savings from having public employee’s to pay a little bit more toward their pension and toward their health insurance premiums (which is still well below what federal government employees pay and well below the average Wisconsin citizen).  This website also shares examples of how the reforms have actually improved government services. 

I encourage you to visit this website, to learn about the savings realized in your county.


Weekly Radio Address

One of the other ways I communicate each week is by partnering with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association to produce and distribute a brief radio address once a week.  The audio files of these radio addresses may be accessed on http://www.wi-broadcasters.org and http://walker.wi.gov/section.asp?linkid=1761&locid=177

Previous topics of the radio address include, but are not limited to SeniorCare, encouraging educator effectiveness, property taxes, making government more efficient, and honoring Wisconsin’s veterans.

A new radio address is posted each week at 10 a.m. on Thursday.  I encourage you to check out the radio address website each week to learn more about your state government. 

From my family to yours: Happy New Year

As we close out 2011 my wife Tonette, and our two sons would like to wish you and your family a happy, safe, and prosperous New Year. 

It has been a pleasure communicating with you. It is an honor to serve as your Governor and represent the residents of Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker

You received this e-mail because you contacted Governor Walker’s office directly at some point during 2011.  If you wish to be removed from this e-update list please click here and put in the subject line unsubscribe.


  1. Heather, You have to remember Walker doesn't like education, and he is uneducated, so it is no surprise his numbers don't add up. The only thing adding up for him are all the lies he tells. Maybe he can't help himself! He is a pathalogical liar. Really in all my years, I have never seen anybody like him.

  2. I had to write about his lovely missive today too (From Wisconsin's Department of Unmitigated Gall). Reading it was hard on the stomach. You rock, Heather! Thanks!

  3. Thank you for your e-mail message. I welcome you expressing your views and concerns to me, and I commend you for participating in your state government. I take into account the views of all of the citizens of Wisconsin, and I will keep your specific comments in mind during my service as your Governor.

    If you would like more information about my positions on issues, or would like to read my public statements on issues, I encourage you to explore my website: www.walker.wi.gov. I like to respond individually to every letter and telephone call I receive; however, I cannot respond to each e-mail individually due to the volume. If your request is time sensitive, please call my office at (608) 266-1212. You may also write to me via conventional mail at Governor Scott Walker: PO Box 7863, Madison, WI 53707.

    As noted on our website, please know that any communications may be subject to release under Wisconsin's public records law and that our policy is generally to release communications sent to this email address.

    Once again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to contact me again if I can ever be of assistance to you.


    Scott Walker

  4. My reply to Scotty's email:
    Perhaps you could donate the gifts to the Hartland-Lakeside School District, which will be introducing referendum for nearly a million dollars just for operating expenses for the 2012-13 budget. Your changes are a joke, and I can guarantee that my taxes haven't gone down.

    Tammara Wolfgram

  5. Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for!