On Friday, a Wisconsin judge issued a temporary restraining order to block Governor Walker’s recently passed collective bargaining bill. It is important to consider the merits of the bill and look at the protections that the collective bargaining bill provides to residents.
So what has Scott Walker really done in Wisconsin? Well, he has restricted, not ended, collective bargaining, which will protect taxpayers from way over the market benefit packages that have resulted from the past alliance of politicians and the unions who fund them. We have seen the damage these spiraling and uncontrollable pension and benefit liabilities can do to states many years after they are adapted. Prime examples include Illinois and California where huge unfunded liabilities have led to budgetary crises, threatened credit ratings, and increased interest rates on public debt. Walker also has brought public employee benefit packages into line with the rest of Wisconsin workers, changing the benefit plans so that state workers will pay into their pensions and healthcare benefits.
While the left attempts to portray the removal of collective bargaining as un-American, the simple fact is that residents entrusted the state with making the right decisions with their tax dollars. Yet for decades, these states opted to give public unions pensions that would eventually spiral out of control and cause major fiscal disruption to state governments. For example, Ohio’s unfunded liability could be as high as $166 billion dollars or 35% of the Gross State Product.
When these plans were awarded, politicians justified these deals because they were literally playing with someone else’s money, and they never contemplated the fiscal damage unfunded pensions could cause down the road. Now states across the nation are facing fiscal ruin because of these well intended but fiscally reckless deals. Worse, some are calling for the federal government, facing its own ballooning deficit due to entitlement spending like Social Security and Medicare, to bailout these states.
Governor Walker has also taken away the Holy Grail for public employee unions – automatic union due deductions. With the removal of the automatic deduction, now public employees can make their own decisions on whether or not to pay union dues. Walker is ultimately giving workers the ability to be pro-choice with their union dues and have a fair choice about their union. While this is great for public employees, this is terrible for union bosses.
Governor Scott Walker has shown leadership and courage through a rancorous time, having to deal with an ironic hijacking of the democratic progress by Wisconsin Democrats while fighting the union establishment, unsympathetic media and well-organized progressive groups. Governor Walker could have followed many other politicians down the road of subservience towards the unions and raised taxes to balance the budget. Instead, Scott Walker campaigned on fighting for Wisconsin residents who don’t have the luxury of a taxpayer-funded union machine. And because of his fight, he won, and so did we.