This morning Scott Walker continued his campaign to strip the bargaining rights of Wisconsin’s workers by threatening to layoff 1500 employees starting next week if the Wisconsin 14 (Wisconsin Democratic State Senators) doesn’t come back to work in Madison (Link 1). He claims that in order to realize savings to solve the current fiscal year’s budget (FY09-11) he needs to have some debt refinanced by this Friday the 25th which requires Senate approval and because it’s a budget related activity it requires a quorum. We all know that the Wisconsin 14 can’t come back to vote on this debt restructuring because as soon as they’re back in Madison and the quorum is achieved the first bill that will be voted on won’t be the debt restructuring, but the so called “Budget Repair Bill” that would strip workers’ collective bargaining rights.
So how did we get here? We’ll its actually Scott Walker’s own creation. The current FY09-11 “budget crisis” is actually his creation. As documented by the Capital Times on February 16th (Link 2), the State Fiscal Bureau actually projected at the end of January 2011 a $120 M surplus by the end of the FY09-11 which ends in June 2011. This surplus was achieved by all State employees bargaining on good faith for the past 2 years with previous Governor (Jim Doyle) and continuing to take 8 furlough days a year, which translates into about a 5% paycut per year. Fearing Walker would try to try to inflict further harm on the State employees and Wisconsin’s budget the Doyle administration pushed for the approval of the negotiated State contracts with the Unions that would lock in the savings for the State and the job safety for the State employees before he left office in December 2010 as he still had a Democratic majority in both the State Assembly and State Senate.
This was the plan and it seemed doable until Walker worked behind the scenes to surprise people. The contracts were approved by the Assembly, but when they came up for approval in the Senate 2 Democrats shocked everyone and voted with the Republicans to deny the contracts (Link 3). These 2 Democrats were the Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker and Jeff Plale. Suspiciously enough 2 weeks later in January 2011 it was announced that Jeff Plale would be joining the Walker administration earning $90,000 / year as the administrator of the Division of State Facilities (Link 4),
So how did that cause the need for a budget repair bill for FY09-11? Within weeks of being sworn in as Governor in January 2011 Walker and his new Republican majority in both the Assembly and Senate passed $140 M in new spending for his supporters (Link 5).
So what does this all mean? Walker is more interested in holding 1500 people hostage, who didn’t do anything to deserve this, all so that he can try to use public pressure to bring the Wisconsin 14 back to Madison which would seal the passage of his “Budget Repair Bill” on a pure party line vote and ultimately remove collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin workers that they have had them for over 50 years and also kept labor peace for the State and the people of Wisconsin.
- “Walker warns state workers layoff notices could come next week if bill isn’t passed”
- “Walker gins up ‘crisis’ to reward cronies”
- “Doyle Surpised By Decker’s Vote”
- “Former Democratic senator Jeff Plale lands job in Walker administration”
- “Walker Concocts ‘Scoop and Toss’ Borrowing Scheme to Pay for $140 Million in Special Interest Spending“