Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wisconsin PEU: Circling the drain?

After two years of full-throated Scott Walker bashing and a pending recall election it seems that whatever credibility the Wisconsin public unions have left is about gone. 

Writing for the Wisconsin M.D. Kittle Wisconsin has an excellent article out today about just how much impact Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10 has made on the Badger State's economy (emphasis mine):

While a lightning rod for controversy and recall, Wisconsin's Act 10 has paid significant dividends to taxpayers, according to a new analysis by the Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research, at Suffolk University in Boston. 

Act 10, which curbed collective bargaining for most unionized public employees, in the whole has saved taxpayers more than $1 billion, according to The Economic Impacts of the Wisconsin Budget Repair Act. The study is slated for release this week by Beacon Hill Institute, a prominent free market think tank.

That's billion with a 'B'! In 2 short years Walker has done what no other governor has been able to accomplish. He has decreased unemployment, closed a $3.6 Billion budget deficit all without raising taxes. In fact property taxes in Badgerland have actually gone down.

The analysis goes further to suggest that without the law things would be getting pretty ugly in Wisconsin (a la CA):

What the analysis found is that without the law, which in part requires covered public employees to contribute more to their benefits and holds wage increases to the rate of inflation, Badger State governments would have been forced to raise taxes or make deep job cuts to meet budget expenses.

As it was, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed through reforms and reductions that filled a $3.6 billion budget shortfall, although organized labor asserts Republicans balanced the budget on the backs of public employees.

I love that last bit. Evil Gov. Walker was only able to do balance the budget without raising taxes by punishing public employees.

Really? So to listen to them all these poor public employees are now in shelters? Soup kitchens? Not hardly. In fact I would suggest that before ACT 10 it was passed it was the public employees who were punishing the Wisconsin taxpayers with outrageous compensation packages. In fact, even with the increased payments to retirement and healthcare the union members have to make under the new law it is still better than they would have to pay if they worked in the private sector.

However, my favorite rebuttal is from John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the union for the state's second largest school district:

"If people aren't going to pay higher taxes as they were, they do have more money in their pocket, but at what cost to society?" Matthews said. "When my water is not clean and I get sick, I'm going to ask what the hell is going on."

Say WHAT? Drinking water! In the immortal words of Nancy Pelosi - ARE YOU SERIOUS? Wisconsin was on a untenable path to become California with chronic budget deficits, high unemployment and higher taxes and all this mouth-breather can counter with is drinking water? Mind-boggling!

Well in early June, the taxpayers will get to make a choice as to whether they prefer a government that is serious about the finances of the state and its future well being. If Walker loses, (he is up in most major polls right now by 4-7 point over his challenger) then it's time to sell Badgerland short. On the other hand, if he wins look for other republican governors to follow his lead and reign in the out of control PEU.

Exit question: Given the incredible amount of (both human and financial) effort the PEU put into defeating ACT 10 and now Gov. Walker, does this impact them financially on future efforts?

Exit question 2: Does PEU's defeat in Wisconsin put the badger state in play for Romney?

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