Facebook, Twitter and Wisconsin in general was set ablaze late last weekend when Wisconsin’s new Governor Scott Walker proposed a bill that would strip public employee unions of the right to collectively bargain on any issues, besides pay. Unions would also not be allowed to automatically deduct dues from paychecks and would be required to hold secret ballot votes each year to verify that members still wanted to be in the union. If a majority did not, the union would be disbanded.
There are four main things I don’t like about the Walker vs. Public Unions battle going on back home in Wisconsin.
First, I don’t like that Walker is just ramming this bill through without any debate. It’s same problem I had with the Democrats in Congress the past two years. Our political system should not be either side ramming things through whenever they have the power. There should be debate, an attempt at compromise, then a bill, then if necessary, ram away.
Second, exempting firefighter and police unions from the bill is a clear case of quid pro quo. These two unions are the only ones who supported Walker in his election bid against the Democrats and now are being given much better deals. If you’re going to propose a bill like this, you have to go all in. You can’t pick and choose based on who supported you in the last election.
Third, I have a problem with many of the responses from union members. Some are calling Walker “Hitler” and others are basically saying, “if anything we deserve a raise because we’re underpaid.” Calling someone Hitler because he’s cutting your pay about 15% is completely uncalled for and only makes you look like an idiot.
Fourth, I don’t like the idea that these cuts are being made across the board. Cutting someone who is fully funded by the federal government weakens services and does not help our current budget problems. Gov. Doyle did the same thing when he required federally funded state employees to take furlough days, now Walker is cutting state employees who are federally funded again. It doesn’t make sense to make cuts with a machete, it should be done with a scalple.
It’s pretty clear Walker is trying to smash the public employee unions. He could have gotten the same contractual result by bargaining to an impass and then imposing his will, but he decided to make a show of force. Most public employees can’t strike, so Walker is sending them a clear message that he’s serious. I think his message goes too far, but I think the unions have to realize that cuts will be made.
Our state has a 140m huge budget deficit this year and one in the billions next year. The problem will only get bigger as most of the older workers retire on nice pensions. Our state pensions and health insurance are sort of like the auto companies, meaning something has to be done. I understand that nobody likes to have their salary and benefits cut, but there are only three options. Cut employees benefits packages, cut services or raise taxes.
I think we should be looking at all options and nothing should be spared from intense scruitany. My first cuts would be to administrators at public schools. My old high school has 7 administrators, a full time athletic director and it’s own superintendant for one school. I’d merge our high school district with the middle and elementry district and cut the fat and move that over to retaining teachers. It’s insane that there’s this much fat in a school with about 1500 kids.
I don’t have time to look for more places to cut, but you get the idea. There’s fat in most areas of state government and it will have to be cut.
My question to the people protesting:
If not your pay, what else should be cut from the state budget to close our deficit? If nothing, should we raise taxes?