Wisconsin’s remarkably fiscal-free fiscal bill

Posted on March 11, 2011


If you haven’t decided which side of the fence you’re on in the Wisconsin union protests, consider this:

From inception, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker claimed that “outrageous union pensions and benefits are a devastating draw on the state’s already failing economy.”

After ramming his pet union-busting bill through the state legislature without the participation or voted consent of the state’s Democrat party by stripping away literally every word of the bill that had to do with budget and finances, Walker is now saying union bill’s changes ‘”are Indeed Fiscal.” If they are fiscal, then the bill, by state law and the state’s Constitution requires a three-fifths quorum (20 members) of approval for passage. And if that’s true, then Walker and his Republican minions in Wisconsin just bought themselves a whole new fight from the opposition.

Walker’s current fiscal fixes requiring additional contributions from public employees have not been opposed by the unions. Did you get that?  The unions HAVE NOT OPPOSED the salary cuts and pension freezes Walker demanded.

By Walker’s own analysis, the future deficits facing Wisconsin were caused by unfunded liabilities of Medicaid, present and future. It has nothing to do with public employee compensation. Add the fact that the highest cost of public employee compensation packages comes from police and fire related services. Care to guess which unions were exempted from Walker’s bill? So if the teeming majority of the state’s deficit comes from Medicaid, and the two largest sources of union benefits are not included in Walker’s proposal to eliminate unions, where exactly are Walker’s grounds for being so adamant about getting this bill passed?

The only way they could pass the anti-union sections of the bill was to literally segregate it from the very fiscal legislation that was Walker’s justification for imposing the bill in the first place. It only proves that the anti-union issues had very little – if anything – to do with the budget issues.

Isn’t it interesting how the “remarkable tactics” of politicians always seem to involve some way-out-of-left-field stretched interpretation of procedures?  Seems to me that a state government, running the state’s business, should be manageable through fairly standard methods, not “surprise bills” and tactics that generate more scrutiny than the bill itself.

The Wisconsin senate Republicans removed every financial portion of the bill to separate them from the union-dismantling portion of the bill, mainly to push it through a tumultuous “crisis” and blaming it on Democrat impropriety. Walker and the Republicans removed all facets of finances from the bill and approved literally nothing more than a “we hate unions because they usually support Democrats” bill.

It either is about finances or it isn’t (and … it isn’t). If it *IS* “indeed about finances,” then the Republican maneuver to end-run around the opposition was a sham and they should be exposed for perpetrating it.

“Ultimately what you saw in the bill that passed last night in the state Senate,” Walker said Thursday in trying to defend his actions. “It will shortly be debated and voted on in the state Assembly, a measure that’s really about reform. It’s about giving local governments the reform – and state government as well — the reforms they need to make government work better, to make government work for the people of this state and in each of our communities. Along with that, it also gives the tools to improve government for the people of this state. That’s what this bill is all about.””

Giving governments reform powers?  Improving government?  Make government work better?  Where are the factual financial benefits of the bill, Governor?  Where are your arguments proving the bill is about the state’s money?  Where’s the financial beef?

Claiming that union negotiations were the cause of the fiscal crisis or will be in the future is nonsense when you cannot demonstrate a factual correlation. It’s even more nonsense if the very foundation of why you propose legislation is stripped out of the legislation in order to get the real reason behind it implemented.

The Republicans in Wisconsin have done nothing more with this bill than the shave off the corners of a square peg to make it fit into a round hole.  That hole is called “depowering the Democrat voting base.”