"Wisconsin Gov. Walker Has Ginned Up Budget Shortfall To Undercut Worker Rights"It's important that our readers understand this: This is a fight Gov. Walker picked for the specific purpose of breaking the unions. Wisconsin had a surplus, and as soon as he was sworn in, Walker gave it away to special interests in order to put the state into deficit. Is it a coincidence that every Republican governor is suddenly going after the unions and the pensions? Is it simply bubbling up from the ground for no special reason? Hell, no.
"This republican governor deliberately spent Wisconsin surplus to pick a fight with unions."Wisconsin's new Republican governor has framed his assault on public worker's collective bargaining rights as a needed measure of fiscal austerity during tough times.
The reality is radically different. Unlike true austerity measures -- service rollbacks, furloughs, and other temporary measures that cause pain but save money -- rolling back worker's bargaining rights by itself saves almost nothing on its own. But Walker's doing it anyhow, to knock down a barrier and allow him to cut state employee benefits immediately.
As NFTOS stated yesterday, this broadside comes less than a month after the state's fiscal bureau -- the Wisconsin equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office -- concluded that Wisconsin isn't even in need of austerity measures, and could conclude the fiscal year with a surplus. In fact, they say that the current budget shortfall is a direct result of tax cut policies Walker enacted in his first days in office.
"Walker was not forced into a budget repair bill by circumstances beyond his control," says Jack Norman, research director at the Institute for Wisconsin Future -- a public interest think tank. "He wanted a budget repair bill and forced it by pushing through tax cuts... so he could rush through these other changes."
"The state of Wisconsin has not reached the point at which austerity measures are needed," Norman adds.In a Wednesday op-ed, the Capitol Times of Madison picked up on this theme, which was first disclosed by Ed Shultz.
In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state's budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.
To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January.
You can read the fiscal bureaus report here (PDF). It holds that "more than half" of the new shortfall comes from three of Walker's initiatives:
$25 million for an economic development fund for job creation, which still holds $73 million because of anemic job growth.In essence, public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda. "The provisions in his bill do two things simultaneously," Norman says. "They remove bargaining rights, and having accomplished that, make changes in the benefit packages." That's how Walker's plan saves money. And when it's all said and done, these workers will have lost their bargaining rights going forward in perpetuity.
$48 million for private health savings accounts -- a perennial Republican favorite.
$67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring.
Quoting NFTOS Editor-in-Chief Roger West:
"This hostile takeover of the middle class worker is the aftermath of the Petri dish experiment founded by the radical tea bags. This choke and puke politics is the new republican order. The republican party and the tea bags are like two viruses in the same Petri dish; one is virulent and the other attenuated, but they both are still viruses. To me, there is no difference between the republican party and the tea bag party. As the French would say - "they are the tobacco of the same pipe" and as the Luba of Congo say, “Languages differ but coughs are the same."
|Message to radical teas|
West goes on to say:
"This blatant attack to destroy the common working mans spinal column is viral. It makes little sense for Gov. Walker to emaciate the unions. Therefore, NFTOS strongly encourages Walker to drop his proposal to strip collective bargaining rights from the unions. If he were to do so, he might find that the opposition to his budget fix evaporates almost as suddenly as it appeared on the steps of the capital building."
"This tea bag Petri dish has runneth over, and this excessive engorgement of political power has run well past the state of reality. Extreme "dictatorship" or "governorship" will not be tolerated anywhere, especially here in the United States. Whether its Egypt or Wisconsin, leaders need to understand that radical leadership leads to "revolting" in the streets."
By the way "Smoke em if you got em" Johnny Boehner, "WHERE ARE THE JOBS"!
UPDATE: 2-18-11 12:52
From thinkprogress - Eight GOP State Senators In Wisconsin Can Be Recalled Right Now; Gov. Walker Can Be Recalled In January
NFTOS Asks all our Wisconsinite readers to initiate the booting process now!
UPDATE 2-18-11 16:01 Wisconsin update: Senate rescinds vote to move to final passage, bill now amendable again