Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Let's Make a Steal

After an almost three-week standoff between absentee Senate Democrats and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the Associated Press reveals that secret e-mails have been passing back and forth between the two parties, with Walker offering ever-more lucrative “compromises” to lure the AWOL legislatures back to Madison for the vote. Republicans control the Senate, but can’t vote on the budget measure unless at one Democrat is present.

Still, the stalemate hasn't ended yet. Why should the Democrats surrender now when they get everything back with just a few more ugly protests by the unions? Why buy the dairy cow when you can get the milk for free?

Sen. Bob Jauch told the AP that he hoped “the compromise would serve as a blueprint for future negotiations.” What blueprint? That if you hold the state capitol building hostage, go AWOL so you create a media event by a willing media that will guarantee you full vocal rights, you can continue to rob the taxpayers and intimidate a free people into joining unions they don’t want to join?

Under Walker’s compromise workers would be able to continue bargaining over their salaries with no limit, a change from his original plan that banned negotiated salary increases beyond inflation. He also proposed compromises allowing collective bargaining to stay in place on mandatory overtime, performance bonuses, hazardous duty pay and classroom size for teachers.

The increased contributions for health insurance and pension, which would save the state $330 million by mid-2013, would remain. The unions and Democrats have agreed to those concessions to help balance a projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

But the Democrats haven’t come home to roost just yet. Jauch wanted even more items to be subject to bargaining that Walker seeks to rein, including sick leave and vacation pay. The unions and their supporters have thrown considerable taxpayer money at increasing the pressure on Walker to deal. They’ve even had the nerve (and the funds – Wisconsin taxpayers’ funds) to mount recall efforts against 16 senators, including eight Republicans.

Walker has also knuckled under to allow collective bargaining agreements to last up to two years, instead of the one-year limit in his original proposal. Unions would only have to vote to remain in existence every three years, instead of annually as Walker initially proposed.

Additionally, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Authority employees would not lose all union bargaining rights and the Legislature's budget committee would have to vote to approve any changes to Medicaid programs sought by Walker's administration. Under the original bill, the Department of Health Services could make cuts and other changes to programs benefiting the poor, elderly and disabled without requiring a hearing or vote by the legislative committee.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald acknowledged that pressure was increasing on the senators, saying the recall efforts launched against eight Republicans was “on everybody's minds.” But he said support for the underlying bill remained strong.

“We’re rock solid, we're fine,” he said.

If a taxpayer sinkhole, dug by union workers and their Democrat allies, is their idea of rock solid, Wisconsin is a place I wouldn’t to build a house.


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