The National Battle Has Begun: Labor Approves an Emergency $30 Million Lobbying Budget

 

This was the scene yesterday as over 70,000 people gathered outside the capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.

STAND WITH WISCONSIN AND WALKER: The national battle has begun and the mission and moment of fiscal conservatives has arrived. What began in Wisconsin this week is leading to a decisive day in numerous state capitals throughout America. Organized labor responded today by approving an initial $30 million lobbying budget to stop numerous reform efforts of GOP Governors.

Labor now wants to roll back last November’s mandate. As this SEIU list demonstrates, protesters from the liberal/labor alliance are coming to your state, and they are highly motivated:http://action.seiu.org/page/s/solidarityaction

The SEIU, AFSCME and AFL-CIO leaders are correct, “Events are happening at a breakneck pace, and things will never be the same again”. Gerald W. McEntee, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) noted: “If they succeed in Wisconsin, the birthplace of AFSCME, they will be emboldened to attack workers’ rights in every state.”

In 1959, Wisconsin became the first state to permit collective bargaining for public employees. These union contracts make it next to impossible to reward excellent teachers or fire failing ones. Between 1958 and 1974, the pay and benefits of teachers increased 6%/year and starting in 1974 it increased 7%/year for the next 16 years.

Many states have found collective bargaining to be the biggest hurdle to balancing their budgets. The unions rarely concede anything in negotiations because they always prevail in arbitration.

Now, for the first time in 50 years, the union monopoly is being challenged. This is necessary because the current fiscal path in so many states is unsustainable, and there has been a sharp deterioration in their financial outlook.

Beleaguered taxpayers can no longer take it, and to save many states the union stranglehold must be broken. This is a battle which must be taken to Blue America.

Last month the deficit hawks lost the opening round in Illinois which is now America’s worst credit risk. They have not balanced a budget in a decade, and they responded with the usual liberal solution. Democrats increased state income taxes by 67 percent and business taxes by 46 percent.

The union benefit package proposed in Wisconsin is outstanding compared to what private sector workers receive.

The AFL-CIO does not want to accept any reductions. They are outraged because reform Governors such as Scott Walker (R-WI), Chris Christie (R-NJ), Rick Snyder (R-MI), Mitch Daniels (R-IN), John Kasich (R-OH) and Bill Haslam (R-TN) are telling them the truth. With huge deficits taxpayers can no longer afford union luxuries, and the overwhelming majority of public sector workers pay nothing toward their pension benefits.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

  • This week a Tennessee State Senate committee approved a law abolishing collective bargaining rights for teachers. Tennessee is already a right to work state.
  • Over 60,000 left wing demonstrators were present in Wisconsin today and they are all advocating tax increases to address the state’s $3.6 billion budget shortfall. The liberal backlash will continue to be strong because they know the stakes. Of course the GOP wants to cut the budget in every state, but this crusade goes well beyond that to the very core of our nation’s fiscal problems.
  • The same measures being debated in Wisconsin and Tennessee have already been introduced in Ohio and  Indiana. Nevada and Florida are close behind. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has said the focus on Wisconsin is also helping to galvanize his supporters.
  • Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) ended collective bargaining for state employees on his first day in office in 2005. Now he is supporting a measure to limit negotiations by teachers to wages and benefits.
  • Michigan is the Vatican City of the liberal/labor alliance, but deficit hawks are now hitting them hard in their home base. Fiscal sanity must return because a million jobs have already been lost in Michigan, and the GOP’s top priority is restoring economic growth throughout the land.
  • This is a fiscal war. GOP Governors have been forced to slash aid to schools, social programs and important services, but it is not enough. The big problem involves 7.6 million overpaid public employees. They are the majority of the nation’s union movement. Practically all of them have benefit packages which are no longer affordable.
  • Freshman State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine (R-MI) is expressing the frustration felt throughout the heartland. She is 23 years old and was motivated to challenge an incumbent Democrat last November because so many of her friends had already left Michigan in search of jobs.
  • Because of exorbitant pay packages given to public employees, her state enacted the Michigan Business Tax. Andrea says “Small businesses are job creators and this high tax suffocated them. We have two years to make a difference and if we don’t do it then we don’t deserve to have these jobs again. We are not going to waste our mandate for change, and this historic opportunity.”
  • Wisconsin teachers do not have to join the union but they still have to pay union dues ($1000/year). The Governor’s proposal would end the practice of automatically deducting union dues from an employee’s paycheck. NYC Transport Workers lost that right in 2007 after an illegal strike. They then lost more than 35% of their income.
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has already promised to call out the National Guard and it is a promise he may have to keep on Monday. If labor does not go back to work, those jobs will have to be filled. The list of applicants is a long one.
  • The opposing chants were heard today at the demonstrations in Madison. The liberals proclaimed “Union Yes, Walker No,” while fiscal reformers responded “Walker Yes, Union No!” This was followed by one side shouting “Kill The Bill,” and the other responding “Pass The Bill.” Another slogan was “On, Wisconsin!” It was the cry of Arthur MacArthur in the Battle of Missionary Ridge in the Civil War. “On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!, Champion of the right, Forward, our motto, God will give thee might.”

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The situation in Wisconsin is at an impasse because 14 Democratic State Senators are hiding out in Illinois. There are 19 Republican Senators, but 20 are needed (three fifths) to establish a quorum. Among the options being discussed are:

  1. Eliminate direct deposit of a Senators compensation, and require them to pick up their paychecks personally from the Secretary of State.
  2. Suspend absent employees without pay, and take appropriate disciplinary action for their dereliction of duty.
  3. Cutting off pay to the staff of lawmakers who refuse to return to work. Their offices could also be locked.
  4. The three-fifths requirement is for fiscal bills. For non-fiscal bills the necessary quorum is one-half, which the Republicans already have. They could introduce a stand-alone union reform bill which would not be tied to the Governor’s budget reform proposal.
  5. A recall campaign has already been launched against State Senator Jim Holperin (D) who was elected in 2008 with  51% of the vote. They need to obtain 25,000 signatures, and the goal is to get Holperin to come back to Wisconsin.
  6. Many believe unions are paying the Chicago hotel bills for the absent State Senators. It should be determined if this constitutes an illegal gratuity or contribution.
  7. If Walker’s collective bargaining reforms are rejected then massive lay-offs of state employees has to begin.
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The Battle For America’s Future is Now Taking Place in Wisconsin: A Tale of Three States

 

“The Rat” according to liberal activists is Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). Faced with a $3.3 billion deficit, he wants public employees to make a contribution to their own pensions, a practice which is common in the private sector.

The most important battle in America is now taking place in Wisconsin. If you want to see the real difference between Republicans and Democrats then come to the Midwest. This is where the fiscal front lines are clearly drawn. A decade of big spending programs has crippled Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. The only industry growing in these states is government.

The major reason the fiscal situation is so out of control in the Midwest is because of pension payments for public sector union employees. Practically all of their tax money is needed to address the pension fund crisis which has been apparent for a long time.

Lawmakers in the past ignored the problem and continued to borrow money to pay for current pension obligations. Unlike the federal government, a state can not create new money to pay its bills.

In Wisconsin a new GOP Governor and legislature are trying to say no. They do not want to repeat the mistakes of Illinois and Michigan. They tried to pass a reform plan in the State Senate yesterday which would finally address the explosion in pensions and other spending related to public employees.

The vote did not happen because Democratic lawmakers crossed the border and hid in Illinois. They were able to deny the GOP a quorum, and their plan is to have labor and liberals win the battle in the court of public opinion.

They only need one more vote to win in the State Senate. Governor Scott Walker’s (R-WI) campaign last year was focused on opposition to additional public employee spending, and the huge burdens it has created.

The Governor does not want Wisconsin to share the fate of its neighbors who ignored the mounting debt and focused on various liberal crusades.

Michigan was the only state to lose population and it also lost one million jobs. Illinois is losing two seats in the House of Representatives, and half a million people have abandoned Chicago. Both Illinois and Michigan enacted the largest income tax increases in state history, but Walker’s no new tax vow is adamant. The message from the Midwest reflects a clear choice for our nation.

ILLINOIS:  Democrats control the legislature and the Governor’s Mansion. The state has surpassed California and is now the worst credit risk in America. Its public debt is in excess of $130 billion. They have not balanced a budget in a decade and the state debt is close to junk grade. For the past decade they have been spending $3 for every $2 they take in. In response to the fiscal crisis they caused, liberals offered their usual solutions:

  • Democrats increased state income taxes by 67 percent and business taxes by 46 percent. All Democrats voted yes, and all Republicans in both the House and Senate last month voted no.
  • Illinois now has the highest effective corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.
  • Prior to the vote Illinois ranked 48th in job creation.
  • They also approved $4 billion in new borrowing, and they are now trying to borrow another $11 billion. The legislature did not cut the budget, they just hiked taxes. Republicans said the enormous increases would drive businesses out of the state. Sen. Kyle McCarter (R) said the best investment now “is in moving vans. . . They are bankrupting the state with this increase.”
  • A liberal Democrat was elected Governor in November and Illinois is the heartland of Blue America. They sent Barack Obama to the U.S. Senate with 70% of the vote in 2004 and returned the Democratic Whip, Dick Durbin, with a thundering 68% in 2008. Obama won another statewide landslide that year.

MICHIGAN:  Until last month, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) was in office for the past eight years. She now has the highest negative rating in state history and is moving to Berkeley, California to teach at a law school. With good reason, Granholm says she is through with politics forever.

  • When she took office unemployment was 4.8% under her GOP predecessor, and when she left six weeks ago it was 13.1%.
  • Michigan now has 20% more government employees than manufacturing jobs.
  • Michigan enacted a 22% tax increase on gross business receipts. Republicans were solidly in opposition, and now all of their predictions have come true. The tax increases didn’t come close to raising the revenue Democrats promised. In fact, this year Michigan will have 33% less revenue.
  • Many Michigan businesses closed down or left the state.
  • Among all states, Michigan now ranks last in economic growth, first in unemployment, and third for high business taxes. It ranks 49th in retaining young adults.

WISCONSIN: The state is facing a $3.3 billion deficit in the next two years, but labor has declared a full-scale war over the reform proposals. The main GOP target is reining  in bloated public employee union pay and benefits.

Teachers have closed schools for the past two days by leaving their jobs to attend protest rallies. It is uncertain if schools will be closed on Friday.

It is an illegal strike, and teachers are putting their benefits ahead of education. Many teachers with tenure make over $100,000, and they have exceedingly generous benefits. They also work only 9-months a year.

Democrats will not allow a vote on Governor Walker’s proposal. He says it is essential because the state has a huge deficit and has lost over 150,000 jobs in the past two years. The Governor believes economic growth will not return unless the fiscal crisis is addressed.

Democrats had 35,000 protesters at the state capitol yesterday, and they remained in the capitol building last night. What is the plan the liberals find so outrageous?

  • Almost every public employee would have to contribute 5.8 percent toward their pension. They currently make no contribution to their own pension.
  • The state workers would also have pay 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums. This would be an increase from the current 6 percent.
  • This would still have them paying $100 less a month than their private sector counterparts.
  • Future raises would be limited to the inflation rate unless a bigger increase was approved in a referendum. The non-law enforcement unions would lose their rights to bargain over anything but wages.
  • Public sector workers are already protected against unfairness by civil service laws, and Governor Walker has supported expanding these guarantees.
  • The alternative being promoted by State Senate Democrats would involve increases in sales and income taxes, as well as new business taxes. They believe Illinois has the right solution.
  • The changes apply to most state and local employees but they do not cover police, firefighters and state troopers, who would continue to bargain for their benefits.

MESSAGE FROM THE MIDWEST: Democrats in the three states have always been a mouthpiece for the AFL-CIO, and they were consistently hostile to business. The result was less business, less revenue and less employment.

What liberal Democrats do not realize is that jobs are created by small businesses and lowering costs to employers. In all three states Democrats increased spending which required higher taxes, and they asked businesses to carry out their social agenda with laws, rules and regulations.

The latter hides the spending from political fall-out. The pattern is continuing in Illinois, but Wisconsin is now saying no and Michigan is about to join them. I do not know America’s fiscal future but an important part of the solution is now being decided in Wisconsin.

Americans must now stand with Wisconsin and stand with Walker. Their battle is our cause. ‎”On, Wisconsin!” is the state motto and was the cry of Arthur MacArthur in the Battle of Missionary Ridge in the Civil War:

“On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!, Champion of the right, Forward, our motto, God will give thee might.”