Chicken Little WISTAX once again wrong about falling sky

Fear-monger extraordinaire Todd Berrys conservative talking points are once again proven wrong by, you know, reality. Berry claimed in September of this year the repeal of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) in the state budget could lead to disaster — teachers salaries could explode out of control[!!!] bankrupting school districts and leading to MASSIVE CUTS and OHMYGOD HUGE TAX INCREASES!!!!

Of course, Berry and WISTAXs opposition to lifting the arbitrary cap on teachers salary aligns perfectly with the conservative agenda in Wisconsin that wants to take money out of public schools and choke off public school teachers at any opportunity.

Then last week, in the first major post-QEO negotiation, the Madison teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., voted in favor of a new contract that raised salaries by whopping 1 percent. What a rapid acceleration! The total compensation increase (including benefits) in the MTI contract is 4%. The average increase in total compensation under the QEO? 3.8%.

Berrys incorrect teachers salary explosion prognostication comes after several other dubious predictions by the former Republican budget official were proven incorrect. In an April 2008 column for the Capitol Region Business Journal, Berry estimated a state budget shortfall as low as $650 million while official reports showed it much higher. In November 2008, when new official numbers put the deficit at $5.4 billion, Berry called the numbers unreal. The actual budget deficit topped out at $6.6 million, a full 1015% larger than Berrys prediction.

I wrote last week about Berrys wrong-again prediction last summer that the states rank for taxes would go up 3 or 4 spots was proven wrong when our position actually dropped a spot.

So what is behind these bad predictions? Is WISTAX really that bad at research and compiling data? If so, the media should stop using WISTAX as a reliable source for anything related to state budget and taxation issues.

But is it something deeper? After all, WISTAXs reports, releases and quotes in the media time and again parrot the conservative agenda of less taxes for the rich and corporations, less public investment, and less money for our public schools. The board of directors of WISTAX, as weve reported several times, is loaded with GOP operatives, conservative activists and past board members of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. Over 90% of the political giving by the members of the WISTAX board goes to Republicans and conservatives. Yet WISTAX still claims to be non-partisan and is the media happily concedes that point. Its time to look closer at WISTAX, the people behind WISTAX and the conservative agenda this supposedly non-partisan organization aggressively pushes.

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