WI must preserve ACT 10

WI Gov. Tony Evers wants to completely ruin the state.

His proposed $91 billion two-year spending plan includes gutting ACT 10. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in February:

Evers called for throwing out much of Act 10, the 2011 law that all but eliminated collective bargaining for most public workers. The idea is sure to be rejected by Republicans.

Act 10 required public workers to pay more for their benefits, and that part of the law would remain in effect. But under Evers’ plan many of those workers would regain the ability to engage in labor negotiations, giving them a chance to try to reclaim reductions in their take-home pay.

Folks at Americans for Prosperity-WI have been going door-to-door informing the public how destructive Evers’ budget would be that includes increasing taxes by $1 billion.

May be an image of 8 people, including Eric Brooks

For those who need a refresher course here’s an excerpt from Scott Walker’s 2013 book “Unintimidated.”

When I took office in January 2011, our state faced a massive $3.6 billion budget deficit and a stark choice: We could raise taxes or lay off more than ten thousand middle-class government workers to close the gap, or we could reform the corrupt system of political cronyism and collective bargaining—in which union bosses collected involuntary dues from every government employee, and had effective veto power over any changes to their pay, benefits, or working conditions—that was driving our state into fiscal ruin.

We chose reform. The state legislature passed my budget repair bill, known as Act 10, that requires public workers to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions (up from zero for most) and to pay 12. 6 percent of their health insurance premiums (up from about 6 percent).

We ended collective bargaining for everything except base wages. We ended compulsory union membership, and stopped the forced collection of union dues—allowing teachers and other public workers to choose for the first time whether they wanted to join the union and pay dues. And we freed school districts from the stranglehold of collective bargaining rules—allowing them, for example, to buy health insurance on the open market and hire and fire teachers based on merit for the first time.

Today, thanks to these reforms, the $3. 6 billion deficit we inherited has turned into more than a half-billion-dollar surplus. School districts across Wisconsin have saved tens of millions of dollars—money they have used to offset state spending cuts and improve education, instead of laying off teachers. Property taxes dropped for the first time in over a decade. Unemployment is down. Our bond rating is solid. For the first time in state history, we set aside money in two consecutive years for the rainy day fund. And Wisconsin’s pension system is the only one in the country that is fully funded.

Seems like common sense, right?

Well, the union bosses in Washington and Madison didn’t see it that way. They understood that our reforms were the leading edge of a national grassroots movement for fiscal reform—a movement that is flying below the radar of the mainstream media, but which holds the hope for a bold conservative resurgence across America.

They understood the threat this grassroots movement posed to their entrenched interests. So they decided to fight back.

And they made Wisconsin ground zero in their counteroffensive.

Why did they pick Wisconsin to draw their line in the sand? In part, it was because of our state’s “progressive” history. Wisconsin was the birthplace of public sector unions in 1936, and the first state to allow collective bargaining for government employees in 1959. If the union bosses could not stop collective bargaining reform in the state where collective bargaining began, they had little hope of stopping it anywhere.

I suspect they also figured that Wisconsin was favorable political ground. The state has not voted for a Republican president since 1984, and Barack Obama won here in 2008 by a comfortable fourteen points. Moreover, our capital, Madison, is kind of the Berkeley of the Midwest (former governor Lee Dreyfus once called it “thirty square miles surrounded by reality”). In other words, there were plenty of students, teaching assistants, and leftover sixties radicals available for mass protests. It must have seemed like a natural place to push back, score an easy victory, and send a clear message to would be reformers across the country: If you dare to take on the public sector union bosses, you will be writing your own political epitaph.

But ultimately, the unions took their stand in Wisconsin because of the unprecedented nature of our reforms. We did not simply go after the money—the lavish benefits the unions had extorted from taxpayers over the years. We dismantled the entire system of corruption and cronyism by which the unions perpetuated their political power and dictated spending decisions to state and local government. We took the reins of power from the union bosses and put the taxpayers back in charge.

The big-government union bosses knew that if they did not stop our reforms in Wisconsin, the floodgates of change would open across the land. Other political leaders, emboldened by our success, would summon the courage to enact similar changes in their home states—and eventually in Washington, D. C.

The unions could not allow that to happen. The precedent we were setting in Madison had to be stopped. As one protester lamented to the Los Angeles Times, “If it can happen in Wisconsin, it can happen anywhere.”

So they threw everything they had at us. They mobilized some one hundred thousand protesters to take over the Wisconsin State capitol in a sit in that helped give birth to the Occupy movement. They transported agitators from Illinois, New York, Nevada, and other states; banged drums and blasted horns day and night; harassed and spit on lawmakers as they made their way through the capitol; and turned our historic rotunda into a theater of the absurd.

They picketed my home and those of Republican lawmakers, harassed our families at school and even at the grocery store, and shouted us down at county fairs and ceremonial events across Wisconsin—all in an effort to intimidate us.

When their intimidation tactics failed to deter us, fourteen Democratic state senators fled the state—abdicating their constitutional duties in an effort to deny us a quorum needed to even take up our reforms.

When we found a way around their obstructionist tactics, they turned to the courts to stop us—targeting a good and decent Wisconsin supreme court justice for defeat simply because they thought he would vote to sustain our reforms.

When that judicial coup failed, they tried to recall six Republican state senators, guilty of no official misconduct, simply because they voted for our reforms.

When that effort failed to put the senate back in Democratic hands, they tried to recall more Republican senators. They tried to recall our lieutenant governor. And they tried to recall me.

They failed.

Despite everything they threw our way, we pressed forward with our reforms. And the results are there for all to see: Wisconsin is back in the black. Our economy is growing. Business is expanding. Jobs are being created. Taxes are falling. Educational opportunities are improving. The legislature remains in Republican hands. The state supreme court has upheld our reforms. So have the federal courts.

And I became the first governor in American history to beat a recall. As my wife, Tonette, likes to point out, I’m the only governor elected twice in the same term.

Earlier this year Wisconsin marked the 10-year anniversary of ACT 10 that has saved the state billions. Wisconsin can’t afford to repeal ACT 10.

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