So in the last 3 weeks we’ve seen Walker in the Republicans do the following:
I guess the old saying about being “in for a penny, in for a pound” is true. But seriously, if they’re so confident that this is what’s so good for people and what the people want why do they have to keep thumbing their noses at the law, rushing things through, and operating under the cover of darkness. The only thing I can think of is that Walker and the Republicans know their goose is cooked and the only way to get what they want is to keep playing hardball.
Regardless, things should really start getting interesting as Judge Sumi is scheduled to resume hearings on the restraining order tomorrow morning in Madison. At that time we’ll get an idea about what she thinks about the restraining order that she issued being violated (assuming she thinks it was).
So what a week it’s been here in Wisconsin watching Walker and his goons operate. On Tuesday, March 1st, Walker gives his my way or the highway budget address which is then followed by any and every little petty thing that he and the GOP can do to try to stop the protests and force the Wisconsin 14 back to Madison where the GOP will ram the bill as is through. Either the GOP is really spooked, which they should be as poll after poll shows that the public sides with the unions, or they really are a bunch of petty little brats who will only do things their way otherwise they’ll take their ball home. Anyway, the details…
Full Budget Proposal
- Major cuts to local municipalities and schools with restrictions that local governments can’t raise taxes to offset cuts
- Massive cuts to UW System and Technical Colleges
- End statewide recycling
- More money for roads (and road building firms – massive campaign contributors)
- Decrease Capitol Gains taxes
- Forced sales of dogs to medical research [Link]
Walker / GOP Response
Wisconsin Capitol Now Closed To Visitors (2/28/2011)
Judge Orders Capitol Open, Walker Doesn’t Obey (3/1/2011)
Walker Gives Budget Address, Only Lobbyists Allowed In (3/1/2011)
GOP Senators Implement Fines For Missing Democrats At $100 / Day (3/2/2011)
Dane County Sheriff Refuses To Serve As Walker’s “Palace Guard” (3/2/2011)
GOP Senators Order Arrest Of Democratic Senators (3/3/2011)
Capitol Police Tackle Democratic Lawmaker Trying To Access Capitol (3/3/2011)
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“
As you’re probably aware of by now there have been mass protests in Madison, Wisconsin over the past week or so. What you may not know is actually what’s behind them and the history of Wisconsin that’s driving them. As a 4th generation native of Wisconsin and avid follower of politics I feel that I have a good background to explain and chronicle what’s going on here as well as a desire to do so.
To that end a good starting point to get one up to speed is a quick history lesson about Wisconsin and it’s progressive history involving unions. Thankfully Rachel Maddow did just this last Friday, February 18 in a much more fun and concise way that I could ever hope to. 🙂 Yes, I know she’s an admitted “liberal” but as someone who has lived in Wisconsin for over 30 years I can safely assure you that she’s got the history part down correctly. So anyway if you’re looking for a place to start please check out her clip. I’ll be posting more stuff as it plays out in Wisconsin over the coming days.