If you’ve heard Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker explain why he needs to eviscerate public employee collective bargaining rights, you know that he’s said that said evisceration of public employee collective bargaining rights will give local governments and school boards more tools to deal with the crippling cuts to education and shared local aid funding that are coming in Gov. Walker’s biennial budget. However, while Gov. Walker’s claims might sound plausible to folks who hang on every word he says, let’s take a look at some cold hard facts to debunk Walker’s claims that taking away collective bargaining for public employees will help the state balance its budget.
For instance, let’s take a look at the state of Texas, which has a budget deficit estimated to be somewhere between $15 billion and $27 billion. Texas is a “right to work” state, meaning private sector labor laws are much weaker than in Wisconsin. What’s more, collective bargaining for public sector employees is explicitly illegal in Texas, so clearly public employee unions and their pay and benefits can’t be to blame for Texas’ budget woes.
Now I know what you’re thinking…..”Yeah, but it’s those tax and spend Democrats! They’re to blame, just like Gov. Jim Doyle and Democrats are to blame here in Wisconsin!” While it’s certainly easy to blame “tax and spend” Democrats, Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, has been Governor of Texas since 2000. Oh, and did I mention Republicans control both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas State Senate? They do, so those “tax and spend” Democrats clearly aren’t the culprits for Texas’ oversized budget deficit.
While Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin’s legislative Republicans think public employees are a great scapegoat for the state’s budget woes, it’s entirely likely that gutting collective bargaining for public employees won’t be the budgetary cure-all Republicans want the public to think it will be.