If you think Minnesota has a big budget mess, check out Wisconsin’s financial (and political) woes

Thousands of protesters filled the Wisconsin Capitol corridors on Wednesday.
Photo by Loren Zemlicka
Thousands of protesters filled the Wisconsin Capitol corridors on Wednesday.

Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean, reacting negatively to Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget-balancing proposal, said Tuesday, though, that he is confident the plan will have at least one huge supporter.

“Gov. Walker must be doing back flips,” he said.

Dean was referring to Wisconsin’s new Republican chief executive, Scott Walker, whose approach to solving his state’s budget problems stands in stark contrast to Dayton’s.

Walker wants to slash government spending — and public employee rights — to balance the state’s budget. Dayton wants to do some budget cutting, but he also wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest.

Dean and other state Republican leaders said that the Walker approach, especially when contrasted with Dayton’s desires, will make it easier for Wisconsin to entice disgruntled Minnesota companies to move across the border to a state where, the new governor proudly proclaims, “We’re open for business.”

Walker, though, has other problems
Chances are, though, that for the moment, Walker is a little too busy trying to wade through protesters to do any back flips or recruit any Minnesota businesses.

Thousands have been filling Wisconsin Capitol corridors in Madison as a Republican-led legislature prepares today to pass Walker-inspired legislation that would strip away most collective bargaining rights from public employees.

In addition, the legislature there is expected to pass bills that will require public employees to pay 5.8 percent of their wages toward their pensions and pay 12 percent of their health care costs. (Only police, fire and state trooper unions are exempted from the Walker plan.)

Gov. Scott Walker
REUTERS/Darren Hauck
Gov. Scott Walker

Anger levels are so high that Madison public schools were closed Wednesday when 40 percent of the city’s teachers called in sick. And schools there and in other districts around the state closed today because of an “illness” epidemic among the state’s teachers.

Walker has said that he will consider activating National Guard troops if he deems it necessary to control protests.

What’s startling about this is that Walker, who breezed to an election victory in November, is dealing with only a small portion of Wisconsin’s deficit problems, which are small, compared with Minnesota’s.

For the moment, Walker and the legislature are dealing with a $200 million shortfall in the current biennium.

In the next biennium, Wisconsin faces a $3 billion deficit, half the size of Minnesota’s. To date, Walker hasn’t produced a budget to deal with that problem.

Some key comparisons
For sake of comparison, Dayton seeks a $37 billion budget for the next biennium while Republicans want Minnesota to spend about $32 billion. Wisconsin’s budget for the next biennium currently calls for about $31 billion, but there’s that $3 billion hole.

Also, for the sake of comparison, Wisconsin does have a four-tier income tax structure, with rates running from a low of 4.6 percent to a high of 6.75 percent.

Under Dayton’s proposal, Minnesota’s wealthiest would move into a fourth tier, paying 10.95 percent, up from the current 8.8 percent. Additionally, there would be a 3 percent surcharge on income of more than $500,000 (for married couples). Currently under Minnesota’s tax system, the lower 90 percent of income earners pay a higher percentage of the income (12.3 percent).

Walker says his proposal to cut into benefits of public employees will save the state $30 million by June 30, the end of the current biennium. The savings would amount to $300 million in the next biennium, he says.

That, of course, is not figuring the costs of calling out the National Guard.

“When is the last time you heard of a governor threatening to call out the National Guard to stop an insurrection?” asked Jim Monroe, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. “I can tell you, Ohio has the same thing going on. … These [attacks on public employees] are coming straight out of the Republican party’s national playbook.”

Signs of the tensions in Wisconsin are everywhere.

The streets around the Capitol are filled with cops, highway patrol officers, even DNR enforcement officers.

Growing anger in Wisconsin
OnWednesday, those streets also were filled with thousands of protesters chanting, “Recall Walker Now!”

There’s a sign at the office of the Senate’s majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald, saying he will meet people by appointment only “due to threats of personal violence against certain legislators.”

After all-night hearings with angry public employees Tuesday night, Sen. Bob Jauch, a Democrat from the northwest corner of the state, told protesters at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday that he was moved by what he was seeing.

“Never before have I seen this kind of passion, other than the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war and the environmental movement,” Jauch said. “You are part of a very special moment in time. You must seize it, build upon it and don’t stop.”

Monroe predicts that the anger in Wisconsin will only grow. He also believes Minnesota was just 9,000 votes away from having the same anger. That’s how close Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer came to defeating Dayton.

The “too much government” rhetoric of the defeated Emmer and the victorious Walker is virtually identical.

Nearly same scenario here
The anti-union bills being offered up by Minnesota Republicans in this legislative session — to make this a right-to-work state and dramatically cut the number of public employees, for example — would have “sailed” through the process had Emmer been elected, Monroe said.

So how could two states that have so much in common have come to such different approaches?

Walker, 43, was the executive of Milwaukee County from 2002 to 2010. He had tried in 2006 to win Republican Party endorsement but failed. This time around, he was successful and ran against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, getting 52 percent of the vote.

The key to his victory — according to longtime political reporter Stan Milam, who writes a political column that is syndicated throughout the state — was a tough primary race against former Wisconsin Congressman Mark Neumann.

While Walker and Neumann were generating headlines across the state, Barrett was unopposed — and ignored.

“Nicest guy in the world,” said Milam of Barrett. “He’s one of those guys, who, if everyone in the state could meet him personally, would win easily. But you can’t do that.”

As it was, Barrett’s campaign generated little notice, until it was too late.

There were other factors that helped Walker, too. The Tea Party Patriot movement was stronger in Wisconsin than in Minnesota. (Wisconsinites, for example, voted U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold out of office, even though state polls showed he was generally respected.)

It also helped that Walker’s Milwaukee County roots enabled him to hold down the size of margin that a Democrat needs to gain there to win a statewide race.

Milam points out that nothing Walker is doing should come as a surprise. As the Milwaukee County executive, Milam said, Walker tried to pass many of the things that are blowing through the legislature now. The difference there was that Walker was dealing with a board of commissioners controlled by Democrats, who stymied all of Walker’s hopes.

At this early point, Milam said, it’s hard to know if Walker’s moves are popular with the voters. He is hearing that even some of Walker’s supporters are wishing the governor would have been “a little more diplomatic.”

There is some question as to why Walker didn’t wait to take on union rights and employee benefits until he dealt with the major part of the deficit.
 
Even members of his own party were getting nervous Wednesday. Republican senators were meeting in “an undisclosed location” to talk about the governor’s legislation on public employees. There were modest changes, granting workers some civil service rights.

But the final bill, the version of which passed on a straight party-line vote through a Senate committee last night, will lead to growing anger among public employees.

For the time being, Walker was saying, “We will not be intimidated.”

But for the moment, he’s probably a little too busy to be recruiting Minnesota businesses or doing back flips.

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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Comments (41)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/17/2011 - 09:28 am.

    Further proof that the Republican party’s main agenda is to make Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the million and billionaires richer while permanently destroying the rights of the middle and lower class. They throw lip service to the religious right so they can get their votes but their real agenda is domination of society by the rich, commonly called oligarchy.

  2. Submitted by myles spicer on 02/17/2011 - 09:51 am.

    I am always amused by companies “threatening to move” because of our so-called high taxes. In fact, we are NOT a high tax state by most measures; and where do these companies want to go? South Dakota, which has no income tax? Sure the quality of life there must be terrific, and their growth pales in comparison to Minnesota’s 19 Fortune 500 companies. Maybe Mississippi, where the quality of the workforce is far below Minnesota’s. Maybe the previously vaunted Texas, which has now disclosed they ave a $21 Billion deficit, second only to Calirfornia.

    No, Minnesota, despite Pawlenty’s effort to degrade our state, is still a great place to do business. We are lucky to have Dayton in a position to protect that reputation.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/17/2011 - 09:56 am.

    Go Wisconsin Public Employees! Bring the state to its knees, if necessary, and while you’re at it, start the populist movement to recall Walker.

    Resist the lords and ladies who want to reduce you to economic serfdom, and while you’re at it lead the charge for the rest of Wisconsin’s workers who are already serfs to rise up and (figuratively) cast those lords and ladies out of their manor houses.

    Let those con artists make their living trying to pick the pockets of individuals on the streets instead of using the legislature to rewrite the laws of the state in ways that enable them to pick EVERYONE’s pockets.

    Do whatever it takes to bring a once-great state back to its senses! May God bless and guide all your efforts!

  4. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 02/17/2011 - 10:04 am.

    Yeah this is a clever little coup by the Republican governors. All you have to do is all say that the guy next door is cutting taxes and services, so you need to undercut him, and so on, until the entire country is basically Somalia. And even if he’s a Democrat (except Dayton, bless his heart) he’ll go right along because they’re all a bunch of pushovers who grant the Republicans’ basic tenets anyways. We need to buck this trend, and we could have easily if Republicans hadn’t taken the state legislature. As it is, it’s going to be a hellacious battle. Better that than nothing.

  5. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/17/2011 - 10:11 am.

    On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin….

    This is great! The people of WI voted for “change and hope!”

    Hopefully, the days of the “government employee special interests groups” purchasing the politicians and then negotiating their contracts with these “bought and paid for politicians”, are over.

  6. Submitted by Cecil North on 02/17/2011 - 10:34 am.

    Are we honestly expected to believe that a small difference in marginal tax rates for the wealthy is the single most important factor determining corporate state residency? If that were the case, or even if corporate tax rates were a major driver, Silicon Valley would be in Alabama, not California; the Route 128 high-tech corridor outside of Boston would be in Arizona.

    No, successful businesses go where their raw materials are to be found and, in this economy, the most precious commodity is a skilled, educated and motivated workforce. These talented workers are found in communities that invest in strong strong academic institutions and a modern infrastructure. They know that the benefits of living in such a community far outweigh the costs.

    Balancing a budget on spending cuts alone, at the expense of making the investments necessary to create and maintain a highly competitive workforce, is the surest way to drive business away. Let’s hear less of the GOP’s political, anti-tax dogmatism and fear-mongering, and look for solutions that truly benefit our State, instead.

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/17/2011 - 10:38 am.

    I don’t think anyone is thinking of moving to Wisconsin today.

  8. Submitted by Micah Frasuille on 02/17/2011 - 10:48 am.

    Minnesota and Wisconsin are not in the same budget situation. Wisconsin has a surplus.

    http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/editorial/article_61064e9a-27b0-5f28-b6d1-a57c8b2aaaf6.html

    There is only a 3 billion dollar projected deficit for the next biennium if you include all the increase requests from state agencies.

    Want another surplus? Hold spending at current levels.

    If you want to eliminate collective bargaining for its own sake then say so. It has nothing to do with a budget “crisis”.

  9. Submitted by David Peterson on 02/17/2011 - 11:03 am.

    At least the voters in Minnesota managed to keep the house, senate and executive offices controlled by separate parties. The problem with Walker is the control he has across the board.

    I don’t agree with Dayton on all points and I certainly don’t agree with the House/Senate on all points, but I think they will do a good job of finding a balance between, where as Wisconsin will be motivated by extremist party views.

  10. Submitted by Cecil North on 02/17/2011 - 11:24 am.

    Ron (#5): “Hopefully, the days of the “government employee special interests groups” purchasing the politicians and then negotiating their contracts with these “bought and paid for politicians”, are over.”

    Yup, thanks to Citizens United, we can look forward to more politicians “bought and paid for” by corporations.

  11. Submitted by Ann Berget on 02/17/2011 - 11:30 am.

    It would be helpful to see more details of what these proposals actually are. It seems reasonable to me that public workers should pay more to support public pension plans and 5.8% doesn’t seem excessive. I don’t know what “12% of their health care costs” actually means, or what they currently pay, and I’d like to know so I could judge for myself whether I think that is a reasonable level of contribution. I can’t tell from the article what collective bargaining rights are proposed for restriction and which ones are likely to remain. I’d like to know what is really being proposed. Thanks.

  12. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 02/17/2011 - 11:59 am.

    Ok, we all need to discuss this “hold spending at current levels you hippie morons” thing.

    Projected deficits aren’t because a bunch of liberals have been proposing billion-dollar spending increases during the last couple of years. They’re because of external factors such as the end of the stimulus that bridged a gap during the recession, lower tax revenues because people are out of work, and increased expenses because of increased school enrollment, for example. So if you want to “hold spending at current levels”, you still need to SPECIFY CUTS. Until then, you’re not a legitimate participant in this discussion, and that goes for forum commenters as well as members of the legislature.

  13. Submitted by Lora Jones on 02/17/2011 - 01:23 pm.

    There’s already a move in Wisconsin to recall Walker as soon as their consistition allows it, which unforunately, is about a year from now.

    I’d like to add to the reasons he got elected in the first place is that the 70% turnout of 2008 dropped to 50% in 2010.

    #12-My understanding that the costs being pushed to these already woefully underpaid teachers, etc. amounts to a 20% cut in take-home, after they’ve already negotited a 10% cut over the past two years (between furloughs and salary/benefit reductions). The truly egregious part is that Walker is turning back the clock to 1918 (or before) by stripping average folks of what little power they can exercise when they band together — and he did it unilaterally, and as has been pointed out, because he wants to NOT because it is necessary.

    His “savings” are immediately being spent on more tax breaks for his rich buds — in other words, like King Tim, he’s creating the crises and then proposing a draconian solution.

    No. No one’s thinking about moving to Wisconsin now.

  14. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 02/17/2011 - 01:29 pm.

    Like most other similar proposals, the Walker actions do almost nothing to cut spending. The issue for these people is making public employees, who do have unions, the bad guys and paralyzing their unions, so they can begin to lower everyone’s pay and benefits, ability to negotiate with business, and turn them back into serfs. These people think in terms of the Middle Ages.
    I’m so hopeful about the protests, and hope they continue (and succeed) and inspire groups all around the country (a la Egypt) to stand up for the rights of all of us middle and lower class people. Maybe this is just what we have to do–make the rich and corporations unclench their fists from around our necks.

  15. Submitted by Gary Derong on 02/17/2011 - 01:56 pm.

    To put it in simpler terms, the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin is that Minneapolis-St. Paul is far from the Rust Belt failure that Milwaukee is. Milwaukee’s tax base has nosedived, its public schools continue to be underfunded and its unemployment rate makes it one of the poorest cities in America. Oh yeah, and one of the most segregated. And now that Walker has turned away $810 million in federal money to build a rail link between Milwaukee and Madison, Milwaukee will lose some potential benefits from being a satellite city to Madison. Maybe Chicago will throw a few crumbs Milwaukee’s way.

  16. Submitted by Ed Stych on 02/17/2011 - 03:02 pm.

    Waiting for Eric Black to chime in. He hates it when the GOP filibusters in Congress. I wonder how he feels when Wisconsin Dems flee to Illinois and hole themselves up in hotel rooms just so they don’t have to vote on something they don’t like.

  17. Submitted by Jeff Kline on 02/17/2011 - 03:11 pm.

    Ok; here comes my two cents.

    I’m all for this. Yes, you need to abolish and forbid unionization in civil sector employment. This one issue on it’s own is a very large reason for the unusually high taxes and such that we’re all paying. These jobs need to be just like any other except many of them can be farmed out to private sector. Then let the private sector deal with it.

    We already know that at it’s very very minimum, 50% of those teachers there are failing teachers there solely for the money. The fact that they are all off their jobs marching on Madison however says to me that they need to loose their jobs. Period. That’s just not a negotiable issue.

    I also believe the “fleeing” democrats need to loose their offices and seats. Boy is this compelling. All of them need to loose the seat and the remainder of legislators will have to make up the loss until the next election cycle.

  18. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 02/17/2011 - 03:25 pm.

    “We already know that at it’s very very minimum, 50% of those teachers there are failing teachers there solely for the money.”

    Yeah, that was worth about two cents.

  19. Submitted by Cecil North on 02/17/2011 - 03:29 pm.

    Jeff (#18): “These jobs need to be just like any other”

    You realize, of course, that most private sector workers have the right to collective bargaining under the NLRA? But I suppose you’d like to abolish the NLRA too.

  20. Submitted by Jeff Kline on 02/17/2011 - 03:47 pm.

    I realize that private sector can unionize. No problem with that at all. But civil service should not. The teachers union should either be abolished, or the teaching profession and management of the schools go back to private sector. That way they earn their money just like everyone else… the hard way. They’ll have to work for it.

    Oh; and then to see these same unionized public sector workers like over in St. Paul and Minneapolis who go doing all kinds of foolish things while on the clock. Local news caught up with some of it. But because of a union, these folks got off, and will continue to do what they’ve been doing. They’ll just do better about being more discreet and not getting caught.

    Oh yeah.

  21. Submitted by Cecil North on 02/17/2011 - 04:13 pm.

    Jeff (#21), So, could you please explain why labor unions are okay with you in the private sector but not in the public sector? Just because your employer is a government entity, you shouldn’t be able to bargain collectively? Why’s the government so special (and no, we’re not talking public safety jobs, at least in WI where the cops are conveniently exempt from this anti-union legislation).

    If you want to be a union buster, fine. Please just be consistent.

  22. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 02/17/2011 - 04:13 pm.

    I think Jeff Kline is a little short of facts and evidence. What “other things”? Why do you think 50% are failing? Is that based on student achievement, or what? What statistics do you have to back that up.
    Actually, it’s hard to deal with all of the myths and erroneous comments from Kline’s comments. Why shouldn’t civil servants have unions? These are men and women who have dedicated themselves to some of the highest callings in our society–like education. The repubs are trying to stir up envy from the privately employed parties so they can further crush the middle class.
    I don’t think anyone has a right to assert this sort of thing without evidence, and no one, NO ONE, has a right to make decisions for others unless they have been in their shoes. For starters, every elected official should spend a week (not a day) working in the public schools.
    Another factless fact: when did America EVER have schools in private hands. For years–but no longer–America was singular in being able to boast free public education for every American through high school. Now we have these people trying to both control the content of the school curriculum and make money off it.
    Sleaze.
    Robert LaFollette must be spinning in his grave.

  23. Submitted by Joseph Skar on 02/17/2011 - 05:01 pm.

    Why are the teachers doing this to their kids and parents. How many people in Madison and other districts around the state were forced to miss work and lose income so teachers can fake sick and protest. If this doesn’t show the true goal of the teachers union nothing will.

  24. Submitted by Gregory Lang on 02/17/2011 - 05:42 pm.

    Private sector unions are different than public sector unions because in the private sector there is the real possibility of failure.

    As an example, the Twin Cities grocery business. It’s the union scale versus non union ranging from Missisppi Market to SuperTarget to some Wal Marts to Aldi along with Sams Club.

  25. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/17/2011 - 05:47 pm.

    The difference most of us have with Mr. Kline and those who believe as he does is that they take it as the primary article of their faith, their lives and their daily practice (no matter what other gods they may be claming to worship) that there is no higher calling than personally making and holding onto as much money as possible.

    No “greater good,” no starving people, no “better angels of their nature,” not even the continuous existence of their own nation can be allowed to come between these people and their worship of their own financial resources.

  26. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 02/17/2011 - 06:06 pm.

    Why, in our culture, is it morally wrong to ask the wealthiest among us to pay more, but we don’t flinch at eliminating a working persons entire job?

    The wealthiest cannot afford to pay more, but somehow the middle class can afford to earn less.

    The CEO’s of Citbank and BP are the Robin Hoods and the teacher’s and cops are robber barrons. It’s like we have set the wealthy up to god like status as the only ones deserving and the working man and women should just work harder and make less.

  27. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/17/2011 - 07:29 pm.

    “In addition, the legislature there is expected to pass bills that will require public employees to pay 5.8 percent of their wages toward their pensions and pay 12 percent of their health care costs. (Only police, fire and state trooper unions are exempted from the Walker plan.)”

    Pension? What’s that, ask most of us? And having to pay a greater percentage of the money GOING TO OURSELVES later–the horror!

    12% of the health care costs? That’s the percentage health care costs go up each year for most of us.

    Hopefully many of these workers will leave for all those higher paying private sector jobs and some more deserving people can get in on the raw deal that these public workers have been getting.

  28. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 02/17/2011 - 08:36 pm.

    Contrary to the tone of this article and many of the comments, Democrats in Wisconsin must not be too sure of their position with the voters.

    How did they stand up to Walker’s proposals? They turned tail and fled the state.

    I love the typical reporter comment that reporter Milam used to say people were turning against Walker. “I’ve heard reports….” That usually means one reporter talking to another reporter.

  29. Submitted by Annie Grandy on 02/17/2011 - 10:16 pm.

    Police, fire and state trooper unions supported this idiot for governor which is probably why they are exempt from this crazy bill. The fireman’s union seems to realize that if this bill passes it is only a matter of time before they lose their bargaining rights and were demonstrating in support of the other unions in Madison, today.

  30. Submitted by Annie Grandy on 02/17/2011 - 10:26 pm.

    Joseph Skar – Why?
    The union movement was established with bashed heads, broken bones and even the lives of abused workers. It transformed this country and was instrumental in creating the vibrant middle class which so many of us have enjoyed for years. The union movement gave us child labor laws, 40 hour work weeks, weekends, holidays and vacations, minimum wages and bargaining rights to address working conditions and improve our ability to do our jobs. Every person in Wisconsin and these United States should be supporting these brave union members who are standing tall to maintain these benefits and the standard of living the middle class enjoys and others aspire to.

  31. Submitted by Di Galvin on 02/17/2011 - 10:52 pm.

    I have a question for any/all of you who defend Gov Walker’s plan: A contract’s a contract right? Are all contracts, negotiated and signed — now considered meaningless and/or unilaterally opened to change? or is it just the ones you don’t want to honor for whatever reason?

    How about we turn this around — Gov Walker’s compensation contract is likewise nullified — his pension plan, health plan and any raises are subject to claw-backs for the sake of the state’s financial welfare above his own. I bet this would save significant $$.

    Same goes for the other governors in NM, OH etc. who are intent on taking by force the money out of middle and lower class wallets to “reallocate” toward some minute fractions of the various state budget imbalances.

    I asked the same question around the time GM and the banking industry was bailed out the union contracts were tossed or renegotiated at the same time certain Wall Streeters were claiming their contracts forbid refusing to pay bonuses. Still waiting an answer

  32. Submitted by Joseph Skar on 02/18/2011 - 07:39 am.

    Annie – That was a nice history lesson but how is that applicable in 2011? It is not remotely possible to justify giving anyone a pension for life at just 5.8% of annual salary(and that was an increase). At what point does Gov Walker get Reaganesque and call an illegal strike and fire all the teachers that called in sick.

  33. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2011 - 08:14 am.

    It’s funny how these anti-union people fail to recognize that it’s their rights that are disappearing, not jut government employees. A classic example of a huge “fail” when it comes to recognizing ones own best interests. The funniest thing is that this anti labor sympathy emerges from the conservative wing. The conservatives are supposed to be the history guys, yet all of the sudden history is irrelevant, as if slave wages, deplorable working condition, and mandatory 13 hour days couldn’t possibly make a comeback.

    If you think your going to improve your situation by surrendering your own labor rights your a fool, plain and simple.

  34. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/18/2011 - 09:13 am.

    Wisconsin actually would have ended this year with a surplus, but it suited Governor Walker’s anti-worker/anti-government agenda to create one by giving huge tax cuts to large corporation.

    Yesterday, the fire fighters, although exempted from the changes, dressed in uniform and joined with their fellow public employees in their march on the Capitol. Three cheers.

    #23— Democrats from Wisconsin’s Senate didn’t “turn tail” and run. They deliberately left the Capitol so the governor’s supporters would not be able to raise a quorum and pass this terrible legislation.

    Now that the anti-worker/pro-corporate right wing has significantly damaged private sector unions over the past 30 years or so, they are concentrating their efforts on public unions.

    The eventual goal is to KILL the right of any workers to organize, to negotiate and to be protected from arbitrary firing and unsafe working conditions. If they achieve their goal, watch for workers to return the same conditions they “enjoyed” in such places as late 19th century Chicago packing houses and southern coal mines and to salaries comparable to those our corporations are able to pay in third world countries.

    It’s called plutocracy: the rich rule and get richer while the poor pay with suffering and deprivation. And they use some of their money to demonize unions, private or public, in the minds of voters.

  35. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2011 - 10:40 am.

    Actually, isn’t this whole thing headed for the courts anyways? I thought there were federal labor laws granting the right to collective bargaining, the labor relations board is a federal entity. As far as I know government workers weren’t exempted from the federal labor were they?

  36. Submitted by larry boss on 02/18/2011 - 10:54 am.

    Mob rule and thuggish tactics using Nazi immages will do little to gain public support or positive opinion. The unions in Wisconsin are only reminding America of what we have watched in Europe last summer when Greece and France had riots over new retirement and work rules. This will only hurt the progressive cause. Just like the Texas legislature walkout seven years ago, the bill will pass and the democrat cause will suffer. Too bad when a tough fight is brewing for 2012!

  37. Submitted by Cecil North on 02/18/2011 - 11:59 am.

    larry (#37): “Nazi imageges”? Interesting choice of words. Here’s a little history lesson for you: May 2, 1933 — Adolph Hitler bans labor unions, reduces worker pay, and takes away the right to strike. So I’m confused: who’s playing the role of Nazi in Madison in 2011?

  38. Submitted by larry boss on 02/18/2011 - 03:24 pm.

    So Cecil, using your logic I guess you would say this whole problem should be blamed on George W. Bush. Look, using Nazi images will not forward the cause one bit. The point is when we progressives use Nazi images we are just as wrong as when Tea Party people use them. Elections have consequences, but running away solves nothing and makes us look like selfish Europeans. The Democrat Party in Wisconsin would be better off coming back to Madison and allowing the bill to pass. Then mobilize for taking back Wisconsin the next election. Popular opinion in Wisconsin and the country is not falling in behind this mob reaction.

  39. Submitted by Randall Ryder on 02/20/2011 - 06:29 pm.

    It is questionable if Wisconsin has the fiscal problems to the extent described in the media, including MinnPost. Wisconsin uses static budget projections that assume no changes in revenue or growth. A such, the state is consistently inaccurate in projecting deficits or surpluses. At present, the state would have a budget surplus if Walker had not given tax brakes to legislation approved in January. Please check the website of the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau which described the budget in more detail.

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