By Tom Quiner
The state faced a $3.6 Billion (with a capital “B”) deficit. They just couldn’t afford the extravagant wages and benefits enjoyed by a select group of their citizenry: unionized public employees.
These union members enjoyed wages and perks that far exceeded what their counterparts in the private sector enjoyed. And yet, it was the struggling private sector that was footing the bill for the union’s prodigious bounty.
What to do?
The liberals who had gotten the state in the mess in the first place called for more taxes.
Governor Scott Walker called for moderation. Specifically, he said the state needed to moderate their spending.
Governor Walker won. And so did the State of Wisconsin.
It was ugly. Union bullies crammed into the Capital to intimidate Republican lawmakers. The Union’s lapdogs in the Democratic Party fled the state to prevent a quorum and subvert the democratic process.
And yet Scott Walker won and the union bullies lost.
So what did Governor Walker and the Republicans do to set Wisconsin on a healthier fiscal path?
√ Reformed collective bargaining for most public unions so they could negotiate basic pay, but not benefits.
√ Required unions to pay 5.6% of their paychecks toward their pensions and 12.6% toward their health insurance (still a better deal than the private sector gets).
Did it work?
Yes, and the improvements in the state’s fiscal outlook are startling.
One of the Governor’s critics, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, admitted that …
“The governor did balance the budget …he did reduce the structural deficit significantly; he did put a lid on property tax increases; he did give schools and municipalities more control over their budgets than they’ve had in years.”
Property taxes declined for the first time since 1998, a godsend to the working class families hammered by the Obama economy.
According to Chief Executive magazine, Wisconsin has jumped 24 places in just two years on their ranking of best states to do business.
The reforms have saved Wisconsin taxpayers a billion dollars.
The reforms saved school districts so much money that they were able to avoid teacher layoffs.
Unions are furious. They are fighting to recall Mr. Walker. Interestingly, the opposing candidates in the upcoming Democratic primary aren’t even making an issue of the collective bargaining issue that was the impetus for the recall.
Why? Only 12% of Wisconsin voters say it is an issue to them.
Everyone else appreciates that the state is back on track toward fiscal sanity.