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Will Scott Walker Follow Sam Brownback’s Lead?

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on January 20, 2011

Kansas, just like Wisconsin and every other state in this country, is facing serious budgetary problems. Their newly elected governor, who has to deal with their budgetary issues, is Sam Brownback, former U.S. Senator and failed presidential candidate, who had at one time touted the misnomer of “compassionate conservatism.”

But now, as the governor of Kansas, instead of showing any sort of compassion, Brownback is showing nothing but amorality.
Instead of balancing the budget by judicious use of finding new revenue and making responsible cuts in the budget, Brownback has decided toabandon that state’s most vulnerable and passing the buck onto the municipalities:

Yet perhaps the most brutal cut in Brownback’s budget comes to the Kansas Neurological Institute (KNI). The governor proposes completely eliminating funding to the institution by 2014, which would force it to close down. KNI serves nearly 160 people with severe mental disabilities; two-thirds of its patients cannot walk and four-fifths are unable to speak.

This proposal, as one could imagine, is causing quite the uproar among that fine state’s legislators, from both sides of the aisle.
But simply abandoning the mentally ill and the developmentally delayed isn’t enough for Brownback. He would nonchalantly toss the expense of caring for these people onto the laps of the community health agencies, regardless of whether they have the resources for these vulnerable citizens or not:

The Brownback administration claims that community health services will be able to take up the patients after the closure of KNI. This would likely pass on the cost of caring for the patients to cash-strapped municipalities. It’s also unclear if there is even room for the patients among community services. In 2009, a government commission voted to close KNI, but the recommendations were never followed through, partly because there was a waiting list of “approximately 4,000 people with disabilities who are already waiting for home- and community-based services.”

So, now that one fool as set the bar ever the lower for irresponsible budgeting, unethical treatment of vulnerable citizens, and the willful failure to take on any responsibility, how will other Republican governors, especially Scott Walker, react?
This should be a genuine concern for Wisconsinites in general, and especially for advocates for the disabled as well as municipal and county leaders.
As Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker has shown a remarkable disregard for the vulnerable citizens. He’s allowed the mental health complex facility to fall into such a state of disrepair that it was labelled as “shoddy” by inspectors, and would cost millions to fix. He’s continuously cut back on staffing to the point of making it unsafe for patientsstaff members and even members of theneighboring community. He has closed down several wards, forcing those patients into the community whether they were ready for such a huge transition or not.
Indeed, Walker is already showing the same disregard as governor, with one of his first moves was to issue a proposal to allow nursing homes to avoid their responsibility for poor care or maltreatment.
Walker’s budgetary prowess is no better than his track record in caring for the vulnerable. His last two budgets as county executive were illegally laden with massive deficits. It has already been shown that his first proposals to “fix the budget,” create jobs and reduce the deficit are doing the exact opposite of those stated goals.
And can anyone tell me when Walker has ever taken responsibility for any of his actions? I can’t think of one.
It also wouldn’t be hard to imagine Walker being more than willing to pass the tough decisions and the hard problem solving to the mayors and the county leaders in this state. Before one would dismiss this notion, think for one minute on how he, as county executive, regularly passed the buck to the Milwaukee County Board to fix his mistakes, or at least to take the blame when he had failed in one area or another.
Is it any wonder that Walker and his faithful sidekick, Rebecca “Get Real” Kleefisch are spending more time acting like they’re still in campaign mode, just to gain even a modicum of popularity, much less respectability?

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