woman with very short, gray hair, holding a firefighter's helmet. she is among a group of protesters holding signs that say "firefighters for labor" and "workers' rights"

Protesters in Wisconsin. Photo credit: Molly Glasgow

The protests in Madison, WI continue, and as the days go on information about the nature of Wisconsin’s budget crisis has come out:

The Badger State was actually in pretty good shape. It was supposed to end this budget cycle with about $120 million in the bank. Instead, it’s facing a deficit. Why? The governor signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health care policy that lowers overall tax revenues. The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit. Now public workers are being asked to pick up the tab.

What’s more, new information is coming out linking the infamous Koch brothers to Governor Scott Walker’s campaign:

Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries’ political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess is Scott Walker. (via Forbes)

Rachel Maddow has also given a spot-on analysis of how this affects elections: the only big money in elections that leans left is union money. Bust up the unions, and all the big money in elections comes from right-leaning institutions.

But Wisconsin continues to stand up, and the spirit of camaraderie and solidarity has been nothing short of amazing. I have seen the social media feeds of my Madison, WI friends offering up couches, places to stay, their phone numbers if anyone is in need of help. A facebook group has been set up to house people coming in from out of town for the protests. People from across the country are ordering pizzas from nearby Ian’s Pizza for the protesters. A full-fledged civil service has been set up for the protests – with garbage collection, recycling, food and water delivery, and an information station.

I am so thankful for the people of Wisconsin – thank you for standing up, now and throughout history. May we all learn from you.