What's wrong with right-to-work
Dear Rep. Steve Nass: Today I heard you call a UW professor's report "partisan, garbage research" ("Republican Calls UW Research on Right-to-Work 'Partisan, Garbage,'" Isthmus.com, 3/2/2015). I beg to differ. Professor Steven Deller studied the effect of right-to-work legislation on economic performance. He used income, poverty and unemployment data from states with and without the anti-union legislation and compared them using a statistical test to identify significant differences. He found that "right-to-work states tend to have lower manufacturing wages and overall income levels, higher poverty rates and lower education levels."
The Wisconsin Idea motivated Professor Deller to provide you with the facts you need to make a wise decision for our state. Some ideas that sound good on the surface may be harmful. In this case, research shows that lowering union wages also brings down the wages of other workers. The people of Wisconsin are smarter than you think we are. We can do the math. A "big" annual tax cut of say, $25, for most workers will not make up for a good wage. Even at minimum wage, a worker can earn $25 in just a few hours. A policy of tax cuts does not make up for cuts to a decent annual salary.
And there are ripple effects you must consider. As wages fall, Wisconsin tax revenue will fall, so we will see more broken budgets and more devastating cuts to education and all we hold dear.
Right-to-work is your idea, but it is certainly not the Wisconsin Idea of good legislation for the good of Wisconsin citizens.
>Carrie Scherpelz (via email)
UW System a bargain
Cutting UW System funding is a costly mistake ("UW System Braces for Deep Cuts Proposed by Gov. Scott Walker," 2/12/2015).
- The UW System spends about $6 billion annually, roughly evenly divided between research and education. Research contracts always include overhead payments, reducing educational costs by nearly $1 billion each year. Cutting System funding threatens research grants, risking significant educational cost increases.
- During the last 150 years, Wisconsinites built the UW System. Our lives are enriched because we, family and friends benefited from a UW System education or outreach program(s). It is foolish to abandon our decades-old investment.
- The UW System provides the human capital that businesses need and an incentive for young Wisconsinites to remain in-state. A hamstrung university is neither useful to employers nor attractive to students and graduates.
- We can't train our way into the future. Businesses need and want employees who can think on their own. The UW System encourages the creative thinking necessary to business and to a healthy democracy.
- Tuition, fees and state dollars are only one-third of the UW System budget. The rest comes from grants, overhead and donations. Each state tax dollar is matched by $14 from other sources. Yes: For every $.07 of state tax dollars we get a dollar's worth of education and research.
The UW System is a bargain!
Peter Livingston, Spring Green (via email)