Want to stimulate Wisconsin’s economy? Stop with the war on public employees!

Many on the right have been arguing that the provisions of Wisconsin Act 10, the so-called “budget repair bill” that virtually eliminated all collective bargaining rights for public employees, haven’t really been a “bum deal” for public employees.

Those making that argument have pointed to the fact that despite assertions to the contrary, many public employees have not seen their pay cut as a result of the implementation of Act 10, hence “things really can’t be that bad after all.” And while it’s true that many public employees have not seen their per-hour or yearly pay cut as a result of Act 10, they most definitely have seen their paychecks shrink as a result of Act 10.

As many of you (or more precisely, the three of you who are actually reading this blog) may know, I’m a public employee. More specifically, I work for the State of Wisconsin. As a result of the implementation of Act 10, I have seen my take-home pay cut by just about 15% per paycheck from the same time last year. For the sake of clarity, keep in mind that when I’m talking about take-home pay, I’m talking about the amount of money that’s actually deposited into my bank account. Despite the best efforts of some conservatives to claim that simply can’t be the case, the fact that I’ve seen my take-home pay shrink by fifteen percent in one year is one hundred percent true. What’s more, that fifteen percent cut in my take-home pay is worsened by the fact that many state employees have seen their pay frozen since 2009, meaning they’ve already seen their cost of living increase while their pay has stagnated.

While I’ve been loathe to complain about the financial impact Act 10 has had on my family (after all, it’s really not about me; it’s about my family) while so many of my fellow Wisconsinites are struggling as much (if not more) to make ends meet, a fifteen percent cut in take-home pay is no small thing. I don’t know how many families could easily absorb a cut in take-home pay of that magnitude, but that’s precisely what Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican rubber-stamp legislature have asked hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites to do simply because they happen to be public employees. By and large, public employees as a group are solidly in the middle class in our state, and as venture capitalist Nick Hanauer explains, the middle class are actually our economy’s “job creators.”

As Hanauer noted, the middle class are consumers. They buy goods and purchase services, and that economic activity stimulates demand, thus increasing the need for more production, and voila…..a need for more employees! It’s Economics 101, but it’s an economic lesson that’s apparently lost on Republican elected officials here in Wisconsin.

Put simply, an attack on the pay of Wisconsin’s middle class public employees isn’t good for Wisconsin’s economy. As we’ve seen from Wisconsin’s dismal jobs numbers (worst in the nation, in fact), an attack on the ability of the middle class to buy goods and purchase services doesn’t stimulate the economy and create jobs – it just makes for a good talking point when you’re a Republican elected official hoping to “divide and conquer” Wisconsin’s labor unions – and by extension Wisconsin’s middle class.


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6 thoughts on “Want to stimulate Wisconsin’s economy? Stop with the war on public employees!

  1. Could you tell us exactly how the 15% came about? Did your union negotitate that? Did everybody get at 15% paycut? Was that due to higher taxes, etc? What is the reason for the cut in take-home pay? Do you have to pay insurance now?

    1. The 15% cut in my take-home pay wasn’t negotiated; it came about as a result of the higher costs I have to pay for my pension and health insurance. Every employee in my bargaining unit (and I believe almost all state employees) saw their paychecks shrink by a similar amount.

      I’ve always had to pay towards my pension and health insurance premiums.

  2. I’m sorry you took a 15% cut in take home pay but, I think we need to look at the big picture and what other people are having to deal with. Many friends were laid off because they were on of the last to be hired on I am almost 100% positive they would of taken a 15% cut in pay rather than losing their job. I know taking a cut in pay is not a fun thing but we all have to make sacrifices. On that note though please don’t try and use the arguement that the rich could of paid it because we all know that if we were to tax our way out of the 3.6 billion dollar deficit businesses would of moved out of state and the tax rate would be so high the rich would have no money left. Lets just hope we can get this economy moving again so we have more people paying into the system so public employees could get that 15% back.

    1. Let’s clear up a few things.

      I took a 15% cut in my take home pay after not getting a raise (cost of living or otherwise) since 2007, so not only haven’t I gotten a pay raise in 5 years, but I took a 15% cut in my take-home pay.

      As to your comment about public employees getting that 15% back, that ain’t gonna happen; Scott Walker and his Republican allies saw to that when they took away collective bargaining rights for public employees.

      Finally, what do you know about taking a pay cut and having to support a family? Are you married? Have you taken a pay cut and had to worry about how you’re going to make ends meet?

      Given the fact that you’re still a college student, I’m betting the answer to my questions is no.

  3. Zach- Really, no raise since 2007? With all due respect, you must have had a terrible union! I know the unions I am familiar with would never have negotiated such a bad thing for their people. If you truly have not had a raise since 2007, you might be better off without the union. If you are doing your job, at least you might have gotten a well earned merit raise in that time frame! Think about it!

    Also, I take massive offense at insulting micah for being just a college student with clearly no idea how life works (in your mind). Just to be clear, you are saying, if the clueless college students agree with you, they can speak, even if they still lack life experiences to support their ideas. However, if the clueless college students don’t agree with you, they must keep quiet because they lack life experiences to support their ideas. Kind of a double standard here, don’t you think.

    1. There were no such thing as merit pay raises during Gov. Doyle’s tenure in office, so your point about a “well earned” merit raise is moot. In fact, despite the rhetoric about merit pay raises under Gov. Walker, I’ve yet to see a single employee in my agency receive one, and given the constraints of Gov. Walker’s draconian budget, I doubt we’ll see many of those, no matter how deserving employees may be.

      As to your comments about Micah, the fact that he’s still commenting here completely undermines your assertion that I believe he must keep quiet. My earlier comments to him were simply meant to bring some perspective to the debate, because he’s not speaking from a position of personal experience.

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