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!