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Posted at 4:02 PM ET, 02/19/2011

Wisconsin's fiscal condition

By Ezra Klein

As I wrote in the update to my original post on Wisconsin, my initial understanding of the way Gov. Scott Walker's tax cuts had changed his state's budget picture was wrong: They didn't add to this year's deficit, but to the 2011-13 deficit. That doesn't make them any more fiscally responsible, but it does mean they're not behind the deterioration in Wisconsin's 2011 budget projections. They're behind part of the deterioration in their 2011-2013 budget projections. The Wisconsin State Journal has a good editorial running through the numbers.

To get a broader look at the state's finances, I asked Nick Johnson, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' state and local budget guru, to tell me what he knew. Here's what he wrote back:

- Wisconsin’s budget problems are real. The state has a $137 million shortfall in the current fiscal year – after taking into account the need for an additional Medicaid appropriation to get through the end of the year. The state has a $3.6 billion shortfall in the upcoming 2011-13 biennium (the two-year period that starts July 1, 2011). As always, we measure shortfalls as the gap between projected current-law revenues, and the cost of providing a continuing level of services, and that’s basically what the $3.6 billion figure reflects. See here for more.

- Some opponents of the governor’s budget bill want to argue that the shortfall is a fiction. This is not the case.

- The budget problems for 2011-13 were exacerbated by recent tax cuts. Note, however, that the recently enacted tax cuts don’t affect the current fiscal year. To quote the Legislature’s nonpartisan (and highly regarded) fiscal office, “It is estimated that, together, these three bills will reduce general fund tax collections by $55.2 million in 2011-12 and $62.0 million in 2012-13.” See page 11 of this report (pdf), which also describes the tax cuts. (So, in a technical sense, the tax cuts didn’t create the current-year shortfalls that in turn are creating the specific opening for the 'budget repair bill' [Which is the bill including the collective bargaining restrictions -- Ezra]. However, it is true that the tax cuts are worsening the state’s overall budget picture, and it is the state’s overall budget picture – not the current-year picture alone – that the guv is using to justify going after the workers.)

- The governor is likely to propose a LOT more tax cuts. In the campaign, he promised total repeal of the state’s corporate income tax. (And he wasn’t the only one) We were expecting to see what his proposals were next week, but yesterday he announced that he’s going to postpone his budget presentation (which was supposed to be Tuesday) until March 1.

- The myths about public employees are flying fast and furious, so here’s two things to remember ... First, Wisconsin is among the vast majority of states that have made budget cuts hitting public employees since the recession began — both furloughs and layoffs. And, as EPI’s study on Wisconsin state worker compensation shows, public workers in Wisconsin are compensated less well than their private sector counterparts.

By Ezra Klein  | February 19, 2011; 4:02 PM ET
 
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Comments

scary stuff.

Posted by: jkaren | February 19, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"However, it is true that the tax cuts are worsening the state’s overall budget picture, and it is the state’s overall budget picture"

Those tax cuts are about 2% of the overall budget picture problem.


But thanks for the more clear and honest picture!

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 19, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Classy liberals as always. You lose elections so cry like babies and leave the state because you can't have your way.

They should just stamp their feet and scream mommy.

Posted by: Cryos | February 19, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Here in non-unionized Arizona, government employees have access to what passes for Unions but few bother to join. The Unions here are worthless, collecting fees and providing nothing, reason why hardly anyone cares about them. That aside, looking at things nationwide, the severe budget deficits in state government are an overwhelming force and Unions don't really have any pull anyway. Indeed, lets accept the truth; unions did great work in the early 20th century for workers, but in today's world they can't help anyone and get in the way.

Posted by: drrealitycheck | February 19, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Hope you don't mind that I used you: http://motiontoproceed.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/59/

Posted by: MarquetteMadness | February 19, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Tea Party FASCISTS: Go back to Nazi Germany, where you belong!

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | February 19, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

--*scary stuff.*--

Yeah, the way Klein falls for the collectivist spin at the drop of a hat is something. Even in backtracking, he's kicking up his pixie wonk dust.

I think he's going to have a hard time accepting the continuing public failure of a lot of his pet Marxist policies.

So, when does Wisconsin start firing its negligent, AWOL teachers?

Posted by: msoja | February 19, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

But wait! There's more...

//cite
Debate over Gov. Scott Walker's budget-cutting plan could soon shift to a program that accounts for half of the state's $3.6 billion budget gap over the next two years: Medicaid.

At least 50,000 people could lose Medicaid coverage, and many others could face increased fees, reduced benefits or other hurdles.
//end cite

Ah, the dim collectivist Dems bought votes on the flimsiest of notions, and now that they're running out of other people's money to perpetuate the farce, guess who is going to suffer? Yep, the rubes that voted for the pie in the sky, and greedily gobbled up all that they could while they could.

So sad. Too bad.

Will they be any smarter next time?

Posted by: msoja | February 19, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Oops. Link to the cite above...

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/health_med_fit/article_f677e2b0-3c7b-11e0-92cb-001cc4c002e0.html

Posted by: msoja | February 19, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

"collectivist spin"
"the continuing public failure of a lot of his pet Marxist policies."

msoja, sometimes when i read your comments, i imagine walking across a snowy field in irkutsk, carrying a potato, and a heel of stale rye bread.

Posted by: jkaren | February 19, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse

And here I thought Ezra would sell his own mother to shore up his support of Wisconsin's public employee labor unions.

Guess he decided he could ignore the $3.3 billion shortfall no longer, so momma is safe.

Sorry Ezra.

Better luck next time ~ and you get rid of her you'll have the basement all to yourself!

Posted by: muawiyah | February 19, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Ezra

Thanks fo the correction. It means a lot as many on both sides are throwing lies fast and furious. I'm struggling with the end of collective bargaining as I think it's not right but when dems come back into power they will just renegotiate these deals to irresponsible levels again. I'd suggest a panel that isn't biased if one exists.

I'd also add that I've heard that former governor doyle before leaving office raised taxes any truth to that??

As far as the $110 million in lost revenue over the next two years does that also factor in increased tax revenue of any bump to the economy based upon these changes.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 19, 2011 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Just "starve the beast" politics. It has predictable, repeating cyclical stances: Wait for a recession; then give preferential tax cuts; use the resulting fiscal crisis to claim that spending cuts are necessary; then wait until the next boom to claim that it is reduced government spending which caused the new growth; and so then, vote for our side. A self-propelling cargo cult, replete with incantations from pseudo-economics, that happens to jibe perfectly with the wishes of the plutocracy, and so gathers big contributions, not least in the current episode. All of them worked on variations of it: Reagan, Greenspan, Bush with the SS Trust Funds disappearing into the Bush Tax Cuts, and now Governor Walker of Wisconsin.

The Republicans may have overplayed their hand too soon, this time. A lot of people stayed home in the last election, and Independents were fooled into believing that the Repub's cries about bipartisanship were in earnest. Voter sentiment may quickly move back the other way.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 19, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Lee_A_Arnold ~ even if the Republicans are playing "starve the beast" the best the state employees (and locals who are part of the retirement and medical insurance system) can get still means the state will need to lay off more than half of them.

We are talking about a $3,600,000,000 gap ~ with the alternative meaning that the poorest of the poor who have only Medicaid or SCHIP will be cut off and tossed into the street like animals.

It didn't need to come to this but former Governor Doyle and a Progressive dominated state legislature WASTED the substance of the state and now there's nothing left.

I'd suggest that it'd be a good idea to dig deep into the past of Doyle and his running dog lackeys and see if there are any criminal charges that could be made ~ and if there are have a series of highly public "trials" through to the next couple of elections.

Posted by: muawiyah | February 19, 2011 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Leeaarnold


Even Ezra realizes now that the tax cut you are whining about amounted to 2 percent of the deficit. The problem is Medicaid that is growing exponentially. All your talking points wont change those facts.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 19, 2011 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr, actually the Bush Tax Cuts are the same amount as the Social Security shortfall over 75 years, almost to the dollar. But you must be too young to remember when Bush ran down to the file cabinets and claimed that the Trust Fund was only paper IOUs.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 19, 2011 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Lee


Who's talking about the bush tax cuts or SS? Get on point. It's about the Wisconsin tax cut and their two year deficit

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 20, 2011 12:24 AM | Report abuse

The logic is no different than the starve the beast ideology in general. You like Muawiyah above appear to be arguing that Wisconsin's latest tax cuts aren't the problem, because the deficits are so much bigger anyhow. There are several ways to characterize this, but "on point" isn't among them.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 20, 2011 12:39 AM | Report abuse

I am missing something. How does a 136M deficit for the current fiscal year go to a 3.6B deficit for the period 2011-13?

Posted by: WandK | February 20, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Lee


The problem is the beast is obese and cares about nothing but gorging on more food. Time to wake up to reality

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 20, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"I am missing something. How does a 136M deficit for the current fiscal year go to a 3.6B deficit for the period 2011-13?"


Jim Doyle did a lot of internal borrowing from areas like the transportation fund, the medical malpractice fund, and the general state balance.


Basically he took every source of cash and sucked it dry. That money has to be paid back.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 20, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_0c7079a6-d642-11df-9ccd-001cc4c03286.html

Some thought Doyle got a little too creative. In each of his budgets, he transferred money from the transportation fund for a total over the last seven years of $428.5 million, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The move angered road builders and local governments in particular.
Doyle also transferred $200 million from the Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund to the state’s general fund in the 2007-2009 budget. The fund is intended to cover money damages for victims of medical malpractice, including past and future medical expenses, and Doyle’s maneuver was challenged in court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that transferring the money was illegal and ordered the state to repay it.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 20, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, I saw an analysis on FB that stated that part of the justification used by the Walker administration is that people have access to the new health care insurance exchanges, but...at the same time, he has stated he will refuse to fund state efforts to implement the exchanges AND is joining in challenging the constitutionality of the new law. You might want to look a bit into this given your fascination with the health care reform.

Posted by: BriPet | February 20, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

--*Bush ran down to the file cabinets and claimed that the Trust Fund was only paper IOUs.*--

And Bush was right. The government has spent all the Social Security surplus and left the IOUs in the cabinet in the Public Debt building in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

In order to repay the IOUs, some Kleinish fool will no doubt suggest raising taxes.

In the non-government world, Ponzi schemes like Social Security mean jail time for the perps.

Posted by: msoja | February 20, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr, Reality would be that the only way out is economic growth, to pay this off and keep it going. Reality is, tax cuts don't guarantee economic growth. Proof? The people above the payroll tax-cap received the biggest income tax cuts in the history of the world -- the Bush income tax cuts -- and economic growth wasn't any better than it would have been under a dozen other different scenarios. Neither short-term cyclical growth nor long-term potential growth was improved. In fact, [the effects of that huge tax cut were paltry: economic growth has been a little worse than usual (not including the financial recession, which of course made it into a disaster). Why would cutting teachers or cutting poor people or cutting access to healthcare help economic growth, in the face of the fact that tax cuts didn't do it? "Waking up to reality" would require you to admit that this is all nonsense. We need a combined approach, and the Republicans aren't bringing it.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 20, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

krazen1211 says: "Jim Doyle did a lot of internal borrowing from areas like the transportation fund, the medical malpractice fund, and the general state balance.

Basically he took every source of cash and sucked it dry..."


Sounds a lot like what they did with Social Security...

Posted by: SAT1 | February 20, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Lee

Overbloated pensions and Cadillac health benefits are not stimulative. Also when the bush tax cuts were extended if you recall the CBO raised the economic forecast based upon that thus killing the liberal fallacy that you must take money from taxpayers to stimulate them. Think about that. You must take something from someone to have them spend more. Defies ALL logic except the liberal kind

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 20, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Short-term and long-term are very different.

The short-term effects of reversing the Bush tax cuts would be bad, since we are barely out of the downturn. The short-term effects of reducing gov't spending would ALSO be bad, for exactly the same reason. In the short-term, tax cuts and spending increases are both fiscal stimuli.

The long-term discussion is different.

Taxation and expenditure can INCREASE long-term growth, if it is on proper things like education and infrastructure, the seedcorn of future growth. If long-term tax cuts beggar these, or create deficits to be financed because the long-term tax cuts cause us to resort to deficit spending to continue these necessities, then the long-term tax cuts are making a problem, not a solution.

That may include teachers' pensions and so what? Pensions are long-term investment funds for capital expansion across the economy. Indeed a primary source of such funds.

In the short-term, "taking something from someone" is harmful, if we are trying to come out of a recession. In the long-term, "taking something from someone" is immaterial, since it goes right back into the economy, and they will benefit from a larger economic pie and the resulting opportunity, too. (At least, at U.S. levels of tax rates it is immaterial, since we are not talking about 90% tax rates.)

What we ought to do is treat it cyclically, and reduce taxes and increase deficit spending in the downturns, and then, increase taxes and reduce spending in the boom parts of the cycles, to pay off the cyclic deficits. This hasn't happened -- Democrats and Republicans both have been all too happy to keep giving stuff away. And so we have the situation we do, where everybody is angry.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 20, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Lee

So why in states like mind of NJ did teachers and unions demand and Democrats gladly provide the payback back at the turn of the century of nine percent increase in pension payouts. Shouldn't in your correct scenario we have continued the surplus?

So you like myself think we should forgo the tax cuts come 2012 for everyone assuming we are out of the recession?


I also love how you choose democratic pet projects like infrastructure and education as good stimuli. The public education system is broken. It needs to be fixed and you advocate throwing more money into a broken system. That's like when some conservatives advocate for the status quo in healthcare. Very hypocritical. End tenure and fix the healthcare system before more money is wasted.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 20, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Lee

So why in states like mind of NJ did teachers and unions demand and Democrats gladly provide the payback back at the turn of the century of nine percent increase in pension payouts. Shouldn't in your correct scenario we have continued the surplus?

So you like myself think we should forgo the tax cuts come 2012 for everyone assuming we are out of the recession?


I also love how you choose democratic pet projects like infrastructure and education as good stimuli. The public education system is broken. It needs to be fixed and you advocate throwing more money into a broken system. That's like when some conservatives advocate for the status quo in healthcare. Very hypocritical. End tenure and fix the healthcare system before more money is wasted.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 20, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

"Taxation and expenditure can INCREASE long-term growth, if it is on proper things like education and infrastructure,"

Pure fiction.

As I already have detailed.

1. Education spending has doubled since 1990 with no measurable improvement in outcomes; thus making that extra $400 billion in spending mostly wasteful.

2. Governors like Jim Doyle have looted transportation funds to pay for this bloated wasteful education.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 20, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why any of this means that anyone must advocate a broken system; parts of it work well; status quo in healthcare = no universal access; and yes, end the tax cuts if and when the economy roars back.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 20, 2011 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Krazen: "Pure fiction."

Now you are up against standard economic theory as well as most empirical results in the last century. Good luck with that!

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 20, 2011 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Lee


Class sizes have reduced over the last twenty years with no measurable improvement. Other than to increase union membership what's the reason for this?


You also didn't answer my question. Are you advocating for the status quo in education? We need to do away with tenure and institute merit spy for teachers. In NY the teachers union is fighting this using union dues for millions in ads because they're advocating for the failing ten to fifteen percent of failing teachers instead of for the kids they are failing. What side do you stand on?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 20, 2011 9:28 PM | Report abuse

"Now you are up against standard economic theory as well as most empirical results in the last century. Good luck with that!"


This is just a mere assertion by liberals without any shred of fact.

High school graduation rates were higher in 1969 than 2009, despite consuming only 5% of GDP rather than 6% of GDP. Why?

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 20, 2011 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Too darn bad they couldn't get universal, single-payer health care through. While still expensive, it is the cheapest of the available options. But saving money is not the goal, not of republicans or conservatives in either party. Balancing the budget likewise isn't the goal. They could not care less about the deficit, they have admitted it more than once. What they DO care about is moving income and wealth even farther up the ladder. Things are more unfair than ever in our history and yet there go the republicans, cutting more taxes for the most well off. How people can come on this board and defend this by repeating inane talking points while they are the losers in this game is beyond me.

Posted by: LauraNo | February 20, 2011 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Discover Ezra Klein and his Role in the "JOURNOLIST" scandal by going here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JournoList

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 21, 2011 2:22 AM | Report abuse

visionbrk - Hello again. Your remarks on public pensions are misplaced. It is well known that public workers gave up salary for benefits. You have to look at total compensation. As Nick Johnson reported in Ezra's posting, the total compensation of public workers is LESS than that of comparable private workers. There are many studies. Since we are both in NJ you might want to look at This refernce from the Washington Post:

Washington Post:

"Jeffrey Keefe, an associate professor at the university's (Rutgers) School of Management and Labor Relations, said public employees do not make more than comparable private employees.
According to Keefe, comparing private and public employees with the same educational level, experience and work schedule shows private employees make 11 percent more in wages and 5 percent more in total compensation than public workers."

There is also the following:

The nonpartisan National Institute on Retirement Security found that, on average, total compensation is 6.8 percent less for state employees and 7.4 percent less for local employees than for comparable non-government workers.

Finally, here is a factoid that has some bearing on the situation:

Only five states do not allow collective bargaining for educators. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores: South Carolina, 50th; North Carolina, 49th; Georgia, 48th; Texas, 47th; Virginia, 44th. Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is 2nd.

Posted by: lensch | February 21, 2011 7:14 AM | Report abuse

The essential fact that everybody's ignoring here is the impact that cuts in compensation have on the economy, and that impact can be profound.

As ground work, we need to make an important distinction between the domestic economy, and the economics of overseas trade. This is important, because assets exchanged in transactions within the domestic economy remain within the economy; assets exchanged with foreign nations cross the boundaries of the domestic economy, disappear from the domestic economy, disappear from the domestic tax base, and provide our trading partners with often unfortunate leverage over us. For these reasons, growth in the domestic economy is far more productive, and far less risky, than growth in trade.

The facts that assets exchanged in the domestic economy remain part of the economy, that those assets gain asset velocity, and and that those assets remain within the taxing authority of the United States make the domestic economy far more productive for the people of the United States than the foreign trade economy. In contrast, these differences make foreign trade frequently more attractive to businesses, because those differences allow US employers to pay less, and the elimination of tariff discipline prevents the governments of importing nations from recouping any of their relative losses.

To get back to the main thread, rising wages are, in fact, good for the economies in which they occur. This leads, in one step, to the implication that policies favoring foreign trade over development of the domestic economy, or even placing trade on a par with the development of the domestic economy, are strategies that end in economic chaos.

Even in our relationships among management and unions, the bleeding wound in our economy is not in how much we pay in wages; the bleeding wound is the proportion of those wages that, through short-sighted profit-taking are of benefit in foreign economies, and, quite frankly, to the small number of Americans raking profits off the top, and detrimental to the US economy, as a whole, and to the people of the United States.

Protectionism is not a bad policy; it is the natural tactic to use to offset the loss of benefit from assets that are transferred out of the domestic economy. The policies of so-called "global free trade" are unrealistic, in that they utterly dismiss the risks and economic opportunity costs associated with foreign trade, and wrong-headed, in that those policies undermine the prosperity of the domestic economy, and of the domestic population, in favor of benegit to foreign economies, and members of teh American business elite, who get rich at the expense of their fellow citizens, whether they admit, or even appreciate the reality of what their profits cost their fellow Americans.

It is for the purpose of correcting patterns of behavior that are detrimental to the people of the United States that policy exists. Fixing this is what government's for.

Posted by: lonquest | February 21, 2011 7:39 AM | Report abuse

@lensch,

Hello again and hope you're well.
i've seen plenty of those studies that are biased one way or the other so I won't comment on that as i haven't seen that study but are you saying that teachers don't work as hard for students unless they've given the carrot of collective bargaining? That doesn't speak well of them. So we need to bribe teachers to teach well?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 21, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Well, first of all what you are describing is a capitalistic society. But more importantly, better compensation gets better results. If you don't believe that, I suggest a communist society may be more to your liking.

In addition, there is the matter of respect. Brighter people would go into teaching if the pay were better and teachers got more respect. When you tell a group, they cannot negotiate for themselves, that a bunch of elected officials many of whom have minimal IQ's should be allowed to dictate to the group, there you are exhibting a monumental lack of respect.

Furthmore, students understand that teachers are peons and learning is for morons. You wind up with SC, NC, GA, TX and VA.

BTW can you give me a reference for a study that shows public employees earn more than comparable private ones?

Posted by: lensch | February 21, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I am still confused on the legality. How can the state exclude some groups from collective bargaining? I can see that there can be restrictions on the right to strike for critical works that would endanger the public safety. But that is about all. This case is the opposite - the safety workers are left untouched.

Posted by: sailor0245 | February 21, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Ezra:
1. Would you consider finding and featuring for some of these budget deficit stories the (old) distinction between hypothetical full-employment deficits and the ones being faced, even if just statically scored. Not just unemployment and food assistance demands are up, so too are passed-through costs of increased numbers of those newly "insured" by Medicaid.

2. As public employees are taking the rap for politicians' AND JOURNALISTS' past failures to present actuarial estimates of early-retirement costs, it is not too early to think of selection effects on who applies for public sector jobs. Not likely to be the best and the brightest under conditions of scorn and abuse. That doesn't bode well for future excellence in government administration.

Posted by: incredulous | February 21, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, It's not about the pay...it's about the benefits and retirement. If you are going to compare private to public...you MUST factor in benefits with pay.

And also if I may add - the teacher's union in my area had a chance to 'negotiate' benefits a while ago when our Public School System was, and still is, facing major money shortfalls. The school board went to the citizens of this area, for yet, another referendum....the public outcry was that too much of our tax dollars for the public school system was going to the teachers and that they/teachers need to cut back on benefits like 'the rest of us'. Their (the teachers) response was they didn't have to. "We have our contract and are not going to open it up". We lost many teachers/class offerings, and gained larger pupil/teacher class sizes because the teachers would not budge and the public would not support another referendum.
Now they say they are willing to negotiate. Right.
I hope Walker does not 'back down' on this issue.
The Unions are making this about 'rights and the decline of the middle class'.
That is the Union's way of fighting for their own agenda, not what Wisconsin is facing, which is..... 'lack of funds'.

And, being a Wisconsin resident and, for the sake of arguement, I have worked in non-union as well as union positions in the private sector and have seen my, as well as other's, benefits drastically decline over the last decade....
Oh and did I also mention that I did not vote for Walker?

Posted by: bertzel | February 21, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Here in Virginia, we are rated by the Pew Research folks as the best run state in the Union. Speaking of "union", we have none here (at least in the public sector. We are a right to work state. We cut expenses rather than raise taxes and guess what? Our economy is growing again and we have a surplus. After three years of no increases, our state workers may actually get a small increase, although they will have to contribute to their pension plan, which btw is not fully funded, but not a disaster either and we are taking steps to cure that.

Walker is right...we simply must stop public sector unions. Now. When I was a state worker (NY), the deal was not great pay, good benefits and possible pension and pretty good job security. Stultifying for me and I left after a few years, but many are fine with this bargain. We have to get back to this once and for all. This recession is a life time chance to rewrite the social compact for a generation.

You go, Gov. Walker...no mercy, no backing down, no compromise!

Posted by: dcmowbray1 | February 21, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

lensch,

i'm certainly no scholar but is a truly capitalistic society really one where unions give hundreds of millions of dollars to democrats in an given election cycle and then Dems repay that with over-generous benefits? That to me seems to be a perversion of the system.

If all it takes is money then why not offer teachers $250k per year as a base and then we'll get all the best teachers, no? Would that help poor students learn better? At what point do diminishing returns set in? Also at what point do smaller class sizes help? If we saved hundreds of millions of dollars annually by raising class sizes by 5% with no neglibible effects on learning wouldn't that be prudent?

The respect excuse (yes it is that) is bogus. I have never negotiated a contract and I don't feel any less respected. My father owned his own business and never did either and he's never felt less respected. if people need to bargain (or receive payoffs) in the form of union contracts they need to just grow up. You're grasping at straws.

"Furthmore, students understand that teachers are peons and learning is for morons. You wind up with SC, NC, GA, TX and VA."


Really because my 10 year old thinks her middle school teacher who with benefits makes $100k per year is a "peon"? I highly doubt that. Maybe into high school possibly and definitely into college but you're again making excuses.

The large majority of teachers don't need unions and the only thing we get from them
is payoffs from teachers union to Democrats and return payoffs in the form of contracts and tenure.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 21, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Wow... no corporate taxes. The worker's in the Salt mines are now paying for the roads to the Salt mines. Sliding back to Serfdom.

Posted by: 5inchtaint | February 21, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

The amount unions give in political donations is a pittance compared to that given by businesses and the Rich. I am all for public funding of elections, but until we get that, you are proposing unilateral disarmament.

Where did I say all it takes is money? I simply said you get brighter people if you pay more. Decent pay is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.

Of course if you own your own businesses, you are you own boss. Just read about conditions in the US before unions. I fail to understand why negotiation isn't fair to both sides and dictatorial power is fair.

Come on, you know better than to argue with me by giving an anecdote, by looking at your own situation. Compare the pay of teachers with that of other professions and compare the respect given other professions with that of teachers. It is absolutely clear that we don't get the best and the brightest as they do in other countries because we treat teachers as peons. We pay them less as compared to other professions than other countries. We give them less respect. And we encourage our best students to become investment bankers.

Posted by: lensch | February 21, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

$1.65 TRILLION DOLLAR SPENDAHOLIC LIBERAL BIAS"

it was 8 years of jimmy doyle giving away our road funds to the Unions, and taking his annual 'trade' trip to Italy for 6 weeks every winter....

it's funny we had to pass an ammendment to the state constitution to make sure the governor can not steal from our transportation fund again!

Thank You Scott Walker'

Posted by: simonsays1 | February 21, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr, you've got the wrong end of the stick. Teachers don't create the curriculum, teachers don't write the textbooks or purchase the textbooks, teachers don't create the breakdown of discipline, teachers don't dump the special ed kids into the regular classrooms (as happened in NJ) thereby creating a whole new set of problems in a completely changed classroom dynamic. In the problem districts, teachers aren't supposed to be breaking up knife fights, and teachers aren't supposed be physically afraid of their own students. I manage to talk to lots of teachers, both public and private. Teachers are down at the end of the line: they are just supposed to teach. It is one of the hardest jobs to do well, and it has a fairly high burn-out rate. The education system has all sorts of problems, including the fact that some of the teachers shouldn't be in there, but flogging the teachers because the states have budget crises ramped up by the financial disaster is equivalent to shooting yourself in the foot.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 21, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

~~~Finally, here is a factoid that has some bearing on the situation:

Only five states do not allow collective bargaining for educators. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores: South Carolina, 50th; North Carolina, 49th; Georgia, 48th; Texas, 47th; Virginia, 44th. Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is 2nd.
Posted by: lensch ~~~

Factoid is right.

Posted by: bertzel | February 21, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

~~~ but flogging the teachers because the states have budget crises ramped up by the financial disaster is equivalent to shooting yourself in the foot.
Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold ~~~

No one is 'flogging' the teachers.

It isn't too much to ask that they pay into their retirement and health ins. like everyone else.

Posted by: bertzel | February 21, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Krazen: "High school graduation rates were higher in 1969 than 2009, despite consuming only 5% of GDP rather than 6% of GDP. Why?"

As I understood it, school graduation rates haven't changed much in most districts, although the overall average is lower, due to a couple of dozen huge city systems which are underperforming, (and several of which appear to be administratively corrupt).

We shall leave as a middle-school classroom exercise the following question: Why only a one percent difference in an economy that has grown something like 350% overall since 1969, and has become more technologically complicated and has higher physical plant costs, should be considered largesse?

What they need is more money, for better textbooks and computers. Because we are going to harm our economic future. Because Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg say so.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 21, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Bertzel: "It isn't too much to ask that they pay into their retirement and health ins. like everyone else."

If you say that to private workers, then their first response is to ask for higher wages and salaries, to help pay for those things. So public workers would feel the same way. I imagine that different states have different arrangements, but on the bottom line, these things are the parts of "total compensation".

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 21, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Walker should just ask his puppetmasters, Charles and David Koch, for the funds to fix his d@mn budget. They call it "pocket change."

Posted by: jade_7243 | February 21, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Ezra "Boy" Klein is merely a leftwing mouthpiece. Pay him no mind.

Posted by: Azarkhan | February 21, 2011 8:54 PM | Report abuse

These Wisconsin Public Sector Union protesters/employees are racists. Did you see any people of color in the crowds?? Nope! Racists!

Posted by: NO-bama | February 21, 2011 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Did you know that the Koch Brothers were a main component in who won the race for Wis gov and several other Govs around the country, as well as House and Senate seats..they spent 10 mill to make it happen and to send those spin squads(Americans for Prosperity, The Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Express and about 5 more psuedo organizations that pretend to be grassroots around the country.

Posted by: bkarpus | February 22, 2011 5:49 AM | Report abuse

Government employee unions are an abomination that should have NEVER occurred. Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government. The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 22, 2011 7:01 AM | Report abuse

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