Tuesday, March 01, 2011

If I were a Wisconsin Republican voter....

I'd be pissed.

First of all, it's becoming abundantly clear that the Governor did not ask for enough economic concessions from the teachers' and public employees' union. If the budget is such a huge problem, then why didn't he ask them to take a large pay cut in addition to paying for their benefits? They rolled so easily on paying more into their health care and pension plans, I would think they probably would have acquiesced to a 7 or 8% pay decrease as well. Dumb.

I think I can figure out his reasoning--- which was to break the unions first, as part of the big nationwide GOP Governors' plan dictated by the Koch boys, then institute more draconian pay cut measures later. It's backfiring, and now he may not even get the pension and health insurance changes. Dumb.

The Republicans have paid off their special interests with tax cuts, now they may not get the budget cuts to pay for them. Taxpayers and middle-class lose. Twice.

Secondly, even if this whole mess gets resolved tomorrow, parents have had to find day care for their kids and will likely have to extend the school year into vacation time in the summer or have their kids miss lessons. Why? Because Walker miscalculated and the Republican state house didn't count the votes. Dumb.

The point of this escapade is that public employees know that they have generous compensation packages; they're not stupid and they negotiated them. To ask them to sacrifice for the good of the community is not outrageous, but to ask them to be silent forevermore is.

I don't argue that Wisconsin schools aren't poor; judging by the fact that half the population wears plastic food on their heads 6 months out of the year, something is lacking. But let's agree that we as a nation should all be working towards obtaining the things that union employees have bargained for: assured health care and retirement benefits.

The problem is not that Wisconsin teachers have too much-- it's that the rest of us have too little.... and the Kochs and the GOP Governors are okay with that.


Kris said...

I agree that this anger should be directed at Wall Street and these criminals should be prosecuted. How in the hell is Angelo still walking the streets?

I also support Scott Walker. He is asking public employees to pay 5% toward their OWN pension and 12% towards their OWN healthcare. This is not only reasonable, it is long overdue. If by making these modest concessions we can save 6000 + jobs, it benefits the people of Wisconsin. I also support offering tax incentives to businesses who choose to move to WI.

The real issue is that this bill allows public employees to determine if they want to pay union dues. In the past, you could choose not to be in the union but you still had to pay a percentage to them. On average this could save each employee $800 a year. This dips into the big business that IS unions and that is why they have been bussing people to our capital the last couple weeks.

Tony said...

Public employees agreed to all the financial concessions, so what is Walker's beef? Why does he feel the need to abolish collective bargaining?

Where's the evidence that tax breaks to businesses will bring jobs? Reference? This is all part of that trickle-down, Laffer curve lore that is based on fable. The union's concession will, however, reduce the household spending income available to public employees by about $6700 per employee-- that's money that will be directly transferred to some NY based insurance executive's bonus rather than being spent in Wisconsin. Another screw to the middle class who continue to fight each other over the scraps, and Walker is the lackey of the establishment players.

Meanwhile, your dufus governor already signed the tax cut bill into law before he got the union spending cuts done, so now y'all have an even bigger budget deficit than ever. Strong work.

Furthermore, it looks like this fiasco may actually INCREASE union participation since UW-LaCrosse, which was previously nonunion, has now voted to join the union.

Kris said...

The Governor is only limiting collective bargaining for benefits. An example as to how this delivers results is " Currently many school districts participate in WEA trust because WEAC collectively bargains to get as many school districts across the state to participate in this union run health insurance plan as possible. If school districts enrolled in the state employee health plan, it would save school districts up to $68 million per year. Beyond that if school districts had the flexibility to look for health insurance coverage outside of WEA trust or the state plan, additional savings would likely be realized."

Some of the tax cuts that everyone is mentioning involves allowing companies that have not operated in the state for two years to essentially get their corporate and personal income tax obligation in Wisconsin erased for a two-year period. As well as, a bill that eliminates state income taxes on contributions made to health savings accounts. Both garnered bi-partisan support

Tony said...

You're probably correct-- unions have a lot of sway and control a significant part of the public revenue. I tend to agree. As a product of private catholic schools, having seen my mother pay taxes for a crappy school system that we didn't use, I am a firm believer in school vouchers and more market forces in education.

The head scratcher I have about Wisconsin is the lack of rigor shown by the governor. He didn't even have the votes to get this thing done, and he must have known it would be a dogfight... after all he is trying to take away the unions voice. Did he not not realize the vehemence with which he would be met? Does the state assembly not know the rules of operation, with quorums, etc.

Sure, bust up the unions. But then what? I think the nonunion middle class that is vilifying the union members are seeing this as cure-all for the problems in the state. A better plan would have been to take the financial concessions from the teachers, then pass a school voucher system or charter school program to emphasize QUALITY.

Wisconsin teachers don't make that much more-- and maybe even less-- than comparable jobs elsewhere, so it seems like a fight over pennies. And now it looks like Walker may not get it done. All I'm saying is that if you're going to do major surgery, make sure you know what you're doing.