Wisconsin Budget LTE


Congratulations to the Monona Grove District, teachers, parents and students for standing up for their rights and marching at the Capitol last week. We appreciate the lesson that you have shown our children, that there comes a time to stand up for what you believe in and that everyone needs to take part in our democracy for it to flourish. I appreciate the latitude that the school board and administration has given the teacher union members to fight such an important battle. I was; however, disappointed to read that the teachers were instructed to not discuss the uprising in class. This is an historic moment that some may never see again in their lifetime and should be part of the discussion in every classroom. This draconian bill has sparked a labor movement that has been noticed throughout the world, to expect our students and teachers to refrain from discussing this issue, is not being realistic. Many of the students have spent time at the Capitol in support of their teachers, friends, and family members.

I do agree with Superintendent Gerlach that teachers should be expected to present balanced perspectives. In order to do that, we need to cut through the noise and put some facts on the table. According to the non-partisan legislative fiscal bureau( http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/2011-13Bills/2011_02_17WILEGISLATURE_Governor_JFC.pdf ), we do NOT have a budget “crisis”. We actually started the year with a $121 million dollar surplus, and no statutory trigger was met to require a repair bill. Prior to introducing this bill, Governor Walker and the Republicans passed $142 million in new spending programs that do not create a single job. They also declined $875 million in federal funds that would have created many jobs. This “budget repair” bill is expected to drain the Wisconsin economy of as much as $1 billion dollars in the next two years alone. The public employees already make 8.2% less money than the private sector, and the public employee’s unions have already agreed to almost $100 million in total concessions, but the Governor will not negotiate. Public employees total salaries and compensation made up a total of 8.5% of last year’s state budget. The 3.6 billion dollar budget deficit is based on the maximum requests of all government agencies, not on actual dollars (When in our history has an agency received their full request?). As you can see with the facts laid out, this “budget repair” bill has nothing to do with repairing the budget. This bill is soley designed for the purpose of ending collective bargaining rights for all public employees .

Governor Walker has shown us the devastating effects that can occur when a politician does not run on his/her true agenda. We must not make that mistake again at any level of government. Therefore, please ask your local candidates running for election this spring what their thoughts are on this bill. Do they stand with our friends, neighbors ,and family members who are teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, 911 operators, EMTs, snow plow drivers, construction workers, social workers, professors, postal carriers, prison guards, childcare workers, etc… in defending the middle class and the right to bargain?, Or do they not? If they tell you that it is not their place to say, they either do not want to share their views with you (too extreme perhaps), or maybe they feel that citizens voicing their opinion to elected officials has no place in our community! Let’s make sure and elect people who understand how important the middle class and their basic rights are to our community and our country!


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10 thoughts on “Wisconsin Budget LTE

  1. ” We actually started the year with a $121 million dollar surplus, and no statutory trigger was met to require a repair bill.”

    Let’s take a look at that assertion because I’ve seen it in Talking Points Memo.

    According to Robert Lang, the director of the Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau (the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office), the purported $121 million surplus does not account for approximate $258. million in other other shortfalls, including money owed to the state of Minnesota and funds to reimburse Doyle’s illegal raid on the patients compensation fund. In other words, the alleged surplus in actuality is a $ 136.7 million debt


  2. YES that is true, but by starting the year with the 121 million dollar surplus, there was no statutory requirement for a “budget repair” bill(which Walker says there was).

    On top of that, Both Governor Walker and legislative leaders said we needed a “repair” bill to address a payment owed to the State of Minnesota of nearly $60 million and money owed to the Patient’s Compensation Fund in the tune of $200-plus million. The bill as introduced addresses NEITHER.

    1. Take a closer look, the press release for the bill specifically referenced the Patients’ Compensation Fund:

      “The state of Wisconsin is facing an immediate deficit of $137 million for the current fiscal year which ends July 1. In addition, bill collectors are waiting to collect over $225 million for a prior raid of the Patients’ Compensation Fund.”


      1. There is a difference between referencing it in a press release and addressing it in the bill.

        Squid thanks for pointing out how successful President Obama’s stimulus was.

        1. PP,
          I’m failing to see the distinction. We are advised of a problem–a budget deficit. I think we now all agree that the deficit is real?

          And then we are introduced with a specific solution to the budeget deficit. Now we can debate whether it’s a good or a bad solution but I’m failing to see why the premise of the post–that we had a budget surplus–has any merit. To me, it looks like it was based on a hurried review of the budget, which ignored $258 of liabilities.

          Am I wrong? I will happily provide a retraction of my comments if I am.

          OT, the Stimulus worked, but was it worth the cost? And what benefit will it have in the future? I think its too early to tell. In other words, have we risked our long term stability over for a short term fix.

          In the short term the Bush tax cuts were very successful, the economy grew and tax collections actually went up. But you have taken issue with their continued effect, which is a legitimate review. My biggest fear with the stimulus is that it has destroyed our currency.

          Already we are seeing the cost of commodities at record highs. If we lose the key currency status, we are looking at rapid inflation.

          1. The point of pointing out the initial surplus is, that we do not have a budget “crisis”. Scott Walker said we have a budget “crisis” which made the budget repair bill mandatory. That just isn’t true.

  3. High Schools generally teach history, not current events, because discussing current events (and politics) can lead to accusations of indoctrination. How would you feel if your children’s teacher told them that your support for the unions over the Governor is based in a misguided and outdated form of idealistic socialism that was discredited in the 1980s? You would be outraged, of course. Likewise, conservative parents who support Scott Walker will be deeply offended if teachers begin swaying their children’s opinions of the current dispute in favor of the unions and those who are demonstrating in solidarity with them.

    1. If that statement was made by a teacher, I would have my child look in the history books and see that the teacher’s statement was not based in fact. Jill – your analogy is flawed. Unions do not support socialism. If your assumption were true you would have to agree that Corporations support Corporate Welfare – and that is not true either. Some do and some don’t. Unions are a way of leveling the playing field for workers or individuals.

      So your statement has many flaws. How can you fix it?

      How would you feel if your children’s teacher told them that your support for the unions over the Governor is based in a misguided and outdated form of idealistic socialism that was discredited in the 1980s?

      Just so you know….

      The Governors perception is wrong – therefore his solution is wrong.
      Spread the word!

  4. This is an event going on in their backyards of historic proportions. I think it is wrong and impossible to pretend it does not exist. You can discuss it and the facts without swaying opinion. That is the point i’m trying to get across….

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