A former executive with Sentry Insurance and Republican, Bernard Hlavac bought a half-page ad in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel outlining why he supports the recall of Governor Scott Walker.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend my money than on this,” he said in a telephone interview from his Stevens Point home. “And I don’t care what people think.”
Hlavac says in the ad that he wrote it for his daughter, a school psychologist in Madison, and “all teachers and staff who have been so maligned and savaged by Walker and the Republican Party whose aim is to destroy unions in Wisconsin and throughout the country.”
Hlavac said he supported the Republican Party for years, but he said the party had became a party that favors the wealthy and “is based on fear.”
Text of the ad:
PAID ADVERTISEMENT PAID ADVERTISEMENT PAID ADVERTISEMENT
I am writing this article to lend my support in defeating Scott Walker in this recall election and to strongly endorse Tom Barrett. I am writing on behalf of my daughter, a school psychologist in the Madison area, and all teachers and staff who have been so maligned and savaged by Walker and the Republican Party whose aim is to destroy unions in Wisconsin and throughout the country. This is against every principle of worker rights held by the Catholic Church of which I have been a life- long member.
In 1993, as a freshman assemblyman, Walker co-sponsored right to work legislation—–an anathema to unions since it allows workers to receive the benefits of a union without paying any dues. No union or any other organization could survive under such rules.
The bill went nowhere.
So what happened between Walker and the teachers union? What did Walker do and why the recall? Shortly after he took office in January 2011, Walker continued to work against the unions under Act 10, a bill passed by the Republican legislature limiting the bargaining of unions to only salary with the maximum increase limited to the rate of inflation. Unions were not allowed to bargain on benefits such as pensions and health insurance. He also imposed benefit charges of 6% of salary for pensions and 12% for health insurance on all state and union employees. These were the major tools Walker spoke of to help school systems cope with the major cuts he was making to education. Previously the teacher pension was a non- contributory plan, but teacher contributions for health insurance varied by school districts. All of these provisions were imposed by Walker. There was nothing these unions could do. The union accepted all the benefit charges, but it did not accept the bargaining restriction and the °‘right to work” provision included in Act 10. So, the democrats getting nowhere with Walker and he being unwilling to meet or negotiate, crossed the border to Illinois as a form of protest. They were vilified by the Republicans as being in dereliction of their legislative duties. The Democrats felt that Walkers actions were a gross example of raw power. As the final “boot on the neck” stomping out of the unions. Walker would not allow the state to withhold union dues. Litigation continues on several fronts of Act 10 including the dues withholding issue.
When Governor Walker released his estimated budget in February 2011 he proclaimed that the state faced a $3.6 billion deficit (gap) for the 2011-2013 budget period. What does this mean? The $3.6 billion gap is the difference between estimated revenues and spending r_e_q_u_e§1s for the 2011-2013 budget period. lt is the starting point for all governors and legislatures in developing a final budget. This is the same calculation used to estimate the $5.4 billion gap two years earlier by Governor Doyle for the 2009-2011 budget period. Quoting from The non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WTA) special report of September 2011 dealing with the 2011-2013 budget: “IN SOME WAYS, THESE DEFICIT FIGURES INFLATE THE SIZE OF THE FISCAL PROBLEM BECAUSE AGENCIES RARELY RECEIVE ALL FUNDING REQUESTED. HOWEVER, INCLUDING AGENCY REQUESTS IN CALCULATING A BUDGET DEFICIT CAN BE POLITICALLY BENEFICIAL BECAUSE GOVERNORS AND LAWMAKERS CAN CLAIM REDUCTIONS TO REQUESTED AMOUNTS AS SPENDING CUTS, EVEN WHEN EXPENDITURES ARE RISING FROM PAST LEVELS. ALSO INFLATING THE PROBLEM MAKES THE SOLUTION –A “BALANCED BUDGET”–SEEM MORE IMPRESSIVE TO THE UNINFORMED”.
Governor Walker hyped the $3.6 billion deficit to the point that he convinced his party faithful that the state was in fiscal crisis and was “broke”. What he failed to explain, however, was that the peak in the fiscal crisis in Wisconsin and the entire country occurred two years earlier. What happened then? Starting in February 2008, the U.S. had 25 consecutive months of job losses. In the last 12 months of President Bush’s term, we lost 4.5 million jobs; in the first six months of President Obama’s term we lost an additional 3.4 million jobs. ln the next seven months .9 million jobs were lost. The grand total of lost jobs in this 25 month period was 8.8 million. This total more than wiped out all the jobs gained in the first seven years of Bush’s term. This is the Republican record on job creation. The U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 10.0% in October 2009-nine months after Obama took office. The current unemployment rate is 8.1%. This reflects 4.5 million jobs added by the Obama administration in the last 25 months.
The real estate and credit crisis which caused these massive job losses was years in the making. And yes, there was gross negligence and incompetence at every level from borrowers and lenders to bond rating agencies to Wall Street and everyone in between. All were eager to capitalize on transactions “too good to be true.” Effective regulation to stave off this disaster was nowhere to be found. Even at this date it is estimated that over 10 million people owe more on their mortgages than the current value of their homes. According to Warren Buffet, “Housing over the last 4 years has been in a depression not a recession”. The meltdown of the economy was the worst since the “Great Depression”. The bailouts of several financial institutions deemed “too big to fail” all occurred or were initiated under President Bush. This was the “free market economy” with little or no regulation which Republicans espouse.
What Governor Doyle faced in January 2009 was indeed a fiscal crisis. Jobs were being lost at a staggering rate and tax revenues were falling precipitously. In June 2009 Governor Doyle issued a new forecast of revenues for the 2009-2011 period reducing the previous estimate by $ 1.1 billion. This increased the deficit or gap up to $6.5 billion. Even at this date there would still be eight more months of job losses facing the state and the country. Doyle raised a variety of taxes and fees including income tax, tobacco tax, etc. These taxes and fees were in the $2-3 billion range. By contrast Walkers estimate of revenue made in 2011 was adjusted upward by $.6 billion in June reducing the remaining deficit or gap to $3.0 billion. Walker vilified the Democrats for raising taxes and, of course, made it a key campaign issue. He did, however, take full credit for the $.6 billion increase in revenues that these taxes generated. The remaining gap of $3.0 billion Gov. Walker closed by cutting this amount from agency requests, Almost two-thirds, $1.91 billion (64%) was out from education requests. The actual amount cut from last years actual educational spending as reported by the WTA was $1.06 billion. Along with this cut Walker imposed contributions of 6% of salary for pensions and 12% for health care for all teachers and government employees as stated previously. The impact of these impositions was several hundred million dollars. A rough estimate of the pension contribution alone was $350 million. The additional cost for the 175,000 full and part time employees affected was the same as a tax increase. These employee contributions benefited school districts across the state and helped offset the drop in state school aid. However, the net effect of these actions by Walker caused severe problems for many school districts and the UW system. One consequence of Walkers actions was a reduction of over 1,200 teachers in the state.
While the quality of our education system– private, public, technical and the UW system should be one of our state’s greatest selling points, Walker has turned his back to educators. Morale among all segments of education is at an all time low.
Consumer spending represents 70% of our economy and decreased consumer spending is a major factor in the poor growth of our economy. The lower and middle class segments of our population have made little, if any, real gains in income over the last 30 years. It is because this segment has little purchasing power that consumer demand has softened. lt is not the teacher in Wisconsin whose yearly average salary is $42,000 who is hurting the economy. Nor is it my daughter who earns $ 45,527 with a Masters degree and seventeen years experience. It is because the miracle of a “ trickle down” economy championed by Ronald Reagan has failed. Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, resigned a few years after serving, stating that he had no confidence in its merits and he has been proven
Walker has bared his “divide and conquer’ plan many times. When asked by a Beloit billionaire supporter if there was any chance that Wisconsin would ever be a completely red state Walker responded that he would be working on the budget adjustment bill and dealing with collective bargaining in a ‘divide and conquer’ plan. And, in a phone conversation with whom he believed to be billionaire David Koch (it was actually an Impersonator), he described his introduction of the union breaking collective bargaining measure as”….we dropped the bomb.”
Governor Walker is not above an almost criminal use of numbers as he accused the teachers and their unions of destroying the Capitol building and through his Secretary of the Dept. of Administration stated unequivocally that the repair and clean-up of the Capitol to be $7.5 million. Recently, with very little publicity, the final repair and clean-up expenses were reported to be less than $200 thousand. This was obviously intended to provoke controversy and to divide the general public from their teachers and their unions. Cities like Milwaukee, Pittsburg, Cleveland and Detroit, whose economies relied heavily on manufacturing are faced with daunting challenges. These cities have experienced significant job losses with all the associated problems. Tom Barrett has shown considerable skill in working with the people of Milwaukee in dealing with these issues. He is both respected and well liked. ln addition to his impressive legislative record, he has been elected mayor of Milwaukee three times. He is uniquely qualified to govern our state.
The current Republican Party has run off its historical tracks. This is not the party of Knowles, Dreyfus, Thompson and McCallum who sought the common good and gained the respect of all citizens.
We are working to defeat Scott Walker—– defeat him with a candidate who can restore moral order to Wisconsin. Tom Barrett has the skills to once again unite our state. “Divide and Conquer’ is not in his vocabulary and “drop the bomb” is not part of his action plan.
Barrett reaches out and negotiates. Walker retreats and closes doors
Barrett supports unions. Walker destroys them.
Barrett works for the common good. Walker is beholden to the rich and powerful.
Barrett views education as a priority. Walkers relationship with educators is adversarial.
Barrett is a man of integrity.
This recall election is of monumental importance to both the State o fWisconsin and to our country. I urge all citizens to vote. We have a choice. My choice is Tom Barrett—-a man of principle—not power.
Paid for by Bernard Hlavac a Private Citizen of Stevens Point, WI. Email: [email protected]