No Fracking Way to Balance a State Budget

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The Progressive

No Fracking Way to Balance a State Budget

More than half of all states are getting a new governor this year, making this incoming class one of the largest in American history. The Republicans made huge gains in the states, with 18 new GOP governors taking office.

The Midwest took an especially hard hit, as most Great Lakes states now have Republicans in their governor's mansions.

Matt Rourke / APBut in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the new GOP govs are being greeted with protests.

Here in Madison, a few hundred people demonstrated outside the Wisconsin State Capitol on January 3, the day Gov. Scott Walker took office. Walker has created a stir by threatening to cut wages and benefits for state workers, and has even suggested eliminating collective bargaining rights for them.

The Defend Ohio campaign marched at Gov. John Kasich's inauguration on Saturday, January 8, in Columbus. Kasich, a former investment banker who ran under the tea party label, is considering leasing the Ohio Turnpike to a private company, hiring a private company to run the state's prisons, and limiting the ability of state and local workers to bargain collectively. (In a poll released this week, all of these ideas lacked support among voters.)

They chanted "No fracking way" at Gov. Tom Corbett in Harrisburg. More than 300 hundred people protested at the Pennsylvania governor's inauguration against hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas industry on Tuesday, January 18.

And the Moratorium Now Coalition held a demonstration at the Michigan State Capitol steps during Gov. Rick Snyder's first State of the State address on January 19.

These four states, like so many others, are facing huge budget shortfalls. (According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states face a collective shortfall of $72 billion for the next fiscal year.)

These new govs have made it clear that they intend to cut wages and benefits for public workers, privatize state functions, and slash funds for schools and social services. They say it's to resolve the financial mess, but the budget crises give the GOP a new way to market its pro-privatization and anti-union agenda.

Elizabeth DiNovella

Elizabeth DiNovella is Culture Editor of The Progressive. She writes about activism, politics, music, books, and film. She also produces Progressive Radio, a thirty-minute public affairs program hosted by Matthew Rothschild.

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