The Wisconsin Miracle Can Proceed — Unions Lose Again
If you haven’t been following the Wisconsin Miracle you’ve missed the most exciting political news of the last several months. Wisconsin voters turned the governorship and both houses of the state legislature over to the Republicans in the 2010 elections, after decades of Democrat rule. When Governor Scott Walker took the oath of office on January 3, 2011, Wisconsin was in the terrible fiscal shape, having been plundered for many years by the Teachers’ Unions and Democrats under the leadership of former governor Jim Doyle.
Doyle and Democrats, in bed with the unions, had run the Wisconsin’s finances into the ground. Scott Walker inherited a $2.7 Billion state deficit. He immediately went to work of a “budget repair bill” that would save millions of dollars on its contracts with the teachers’ unions by forcing teachers to contribute 12.6% of their health insurance premiums and 5.8% of their pension contributions. While continuing to permit collective bargaining on teacher salaries it removed all teacher benefits from collective bargaining. Federal workers have always been under similar rules.
These simple reforms, which were fiercely fought by Democrats who tried to shut down state government, have resulted in the Wisconsin budget miracle, eliminating the deficit Walker inherited and putting the state school budget into a surplus going forward. While teacher layoffs had been occurring under the old union contracts, new teachers are being hired under Walker’s budget repair bill.
The first big defeat for the teachers’ unions was the Republican sweep in the 2010 elections. The second was when they lost the budget battle. The third occurred in the recall elections last night when the unions failed to oust Republican control of the state senate. And it’s not over yet. Next Tuesday will be the Democrat side of the recall elections when they must defend two of their own seats in the state senate.
Two Republican Senators did lose their recall election last night. Both had substantial other baggage which probably contributed to their defeat. One, by some fluke, had been elected as a Republican in a solidly Democrat district. The other was involved in a sex scandal, always fatal for Republicans. [Democrats are not held to such standards or about half of them would be gone overnight] The other four held onto their seats and keeps the Wisconsin Senate under Republican control.
A Republican governor’s amazing success in just 6 months in Wisconsin stands as an example to other states such as California and Illinois that are gong in the opposite direction, toward a financial meltdown, a cultural abyss of crime and corruption, and possible bankruptcy [Federal bankruptcy laws would have to amended first].
In the video below from a Wisconsin TV station a teacher who is highly qualified was the first to be laid off when budget problems were faced under the old union contract. Union seniority rules prevented the school district from laying off less qualified teachers first. The video is well worth the time for anyone interested in familiarizing themselves with the historic political battles in Wisconsin over the last 7 months.