Before Governor Walker was elected he promised to balance the state budget and make Wisconsin a good place to do business. He promised to create 250,000 jobs in his first term.
It should be no surprise that Walkers Budget Repair bill is taking steps in that direction.
Labor costs are one of the biggest budget items and current spending is not sustainable.
Walker’s bill proposes the following:
- Eliminate all collective bargaining rights for state and local public workers, except for wages beginning on July 1. This would eliminate bargaining for benefits, work rules and pension plans.
- Union members would be able to choose whether or not to join the union. Unions would have to take a yearly vote to maintain their status. Public employers cannot collect dues from workers.
- Wage increases would be pegged to the inflation rate, unless approved by referendum.
- Make state workers contribute 5.8 % of their pay to pensions.
- Require state workers to pay 12.6% of the cost of their health care premiums. Plans will also be trimmed.
Fire and police personnel would be exempt at this time from these provisions.
Walker has said these measures are needed or there could be layoffs for up to 6000 employees or removal of many children from the Medicaid program. Walker has said he will not cut Senior Care to balance the budget.
Of course Democrats and union leaders are calling the plan radical. Walker is following the lead of Governors such as Mitch Daniels in Indiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey. Bigger concessions are being asked of public and private sector unions across the country. Kohler, Harley Davidson, Sub Zero and Mercury Marine unions all gave large concessions in wages, benefits and work rules this year. It is time the public unions join the rest of us. These concessions are needed to close the $3.6 billion deficit in the 2011-2013 budgets.
The unions are already painting Walker as anti worker and anti union. Expect more rhetoric on how children will be hurt since teachers are involved. Union members have already started to picket at the homes of state legislators. The unions are protesting this move because no negotiations have taken place. Walker claims the state is broke and we have nothing more to give. I don’t know if Walker is anti union, but I believe he is pro tax payer. We elected him to get budgets in line and reduce taxes. It is time to bring the wages and benefits of state workers in line with the private sector. This is happening all across the country as states struggle to balance their budgets. It is past time to de-rail the gravy train of the public employee unions. They need to make the same sacrifice the rest of the citizens of this state make every day. Perhaps the reason the union leadership is so upset, is their own gravy train may be derailed. Mary Beil, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 24 SEPAC made $161, 847 in 2008. Governor Walker pulls down a salary of $144,423 a year. Beil has said Walker’s treatment of employees was “ the plantation owner talking to the slaves”
Union leader Kennedy draws a salary of $129,402 in 2008.
Walker is not the only one making cuts. States such as New York and California are making deep cuts. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed $1 billion cut to state education aid, a 10 percent across the board spending reductions and 10,000 workers laid off. California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a 20 percent cut in aid to the State university system, a 50 percent reduction in welfare payments and a 10 percent reduction in pay for state workers. These governors are taking the same radical approach as governors like Mitch Daniels, Scott Walker and Chris Christie.
Politicians across the nation got the message in the last election. The size and cost of government must be cut. The voters sent that message quite clearly last November. I hope the union is listening.