I like State Rep. Joe Parisi and welcome him to the county exec's race. But when governor-elect Scott Walker says slow down on the 11th-hour ratification of state worker union contracts before the Doyle Democrats turn into pumpkins (if they have not already), Joe protests that "the contracts are based on money that has already been budgeted."
That's like saying my four-week cruise trip to the Caribbean was budgeted a year ago even though I just lost my job.
Budgeted, maybe. But paid for? No way, José. Is it truly budgeted when the state is facing a $3.3 billion structural deficit, including $150 million in the waning months of the current biennium? True, new state union contracts have only six months to run. But that is one-quarter of any biennium's budget. If Doyle and the unions wanted to get the contracts done on time, they had two years to do so.
The WI State Journal reports that the deals struck with 15 of the 19 (!) state employee unions call for a 6.9 percent increase in employee contributions to health care and a 0.2 percent to 0.8 percent increase in employee contributions to the pension fund. Employee contributions to both benefits are almost nil, at present.
When I was in the private sector with Capital Newspapers, we felt fortunate to have the company match the first 5 percent of salary toward OUR pension contributions -- meaning that employees paid at least 50% of their pension contributions. The company a few years ago zeroed out its contribution but now matches 40 cents on the dollar up to 5% of salary.
Iowa's new governor wants to reopen his state's employment contracts, saying the outgoing Democratic incumbent broke with tradition and negotiated a new two-year deal that includes wage increases ranging from 5 percent to 14 percent over the life of the contract.
The MacIver institute points out that only one before in the state's 162-year history has the legislature approved labor contracts in a special, lame-duck session. That would be in 1974 -- when just one contract was approved, not the 19 now being considered.
A lot of lamenting
On the national front, The Progressive laments Barack Obama's call to freeze federal (non-military) employees' wages. Can you say, jumped the shark? Something tells me that The Progressive, The Nation, John Nichols, Ed Garvey, Basford, Madame Brenda, Michael Moore, et al will be doing a lot of lamenting in the next few years.
Wisconsin's Scott Walker is one of four governors to watch, says National Review. "He may turn out to be a Wisconsin Republican in the mold of Tommy Thompson." That is a lot to ask of anyone but the National Review is saying Walker will be truly transformative. Bruce Murphy, no one's conservative, says "Scott Walker promises to be a very different kind of Republican, one who will truly be a fiscal conservative."
Cut waste and duplication, or both
Steve Prestegard at Marketplace has a good idea for reducing the debt and reining in out-of-control spending. Eliminate the Wisconsin State Patrol, which might save $35 million annually. County sheriff's have all the authority, and more, within their jurisdictions. While we're at it, get rid of Capitol Police. They are vanities. If need be, up the stipend paid to the City of Madison in lieu of property taxes.
And cut the $100,000 or so in taxpayer subsidies to the Leftist Havens Center on the UW-Madison campus.
Grow the pie, don't cut it up
Quote of the day in the unlikeliest of places: The Capital Times on-line. This is Froma Harrop in "There's no need to demonize the rich:"
As for the rich, liberals too often buy into the false notion that great wealth must come at the expense of others.
That point undermines the foundation of the prog-lib enterprise. No one begrudges Steve Jobs when they purchase his i-Pod, she notes. She quotes Dartmouth economist Andrew Samwick: "The economy is not a national pie-eating contest. [It is wrong to say that] income is something that is consumed, not as something that is produced," says.
Conservatives are about growing the pie; liberal-progressives about chopping a shrinking pie into very smaller pieces.