The newly elected governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has emerged as one of the foremost fiscal reformers in the nation. He is one of the first to accost the leading cause of the high deficits in many debt-ridden states — public unions. These union’s unrealistic demands have lead to a $574 billion funding gap as a resulted of all the unfunded state and local pension plans. When a private corporation’s revenue decreases, it is forced to cut back salaries and benefits to remain solvent. State and local governments often don’t have this option because of union contracts. In order to vitiate the exorbitant amount of debt in this country, public unions must be confronted.
Public unions have a vice-like grip on the budgets of many states. There are 22 forced-union states, including Wisconsin, in which public employees either join the union or leave the profession. The public union’s collective bargaining agreements affectively allow them to completely dictate public employee pay and benefits. Thus, these state budgets cannot be balanced without union compliance. Walker simply seeks to end this asinine collective bargaining power.
Far from draconian, Walker’s proposal would limit pay increases to not more than the Consumer Price Index unless approved in a local referendum. It would also reform public employee benefit plans. State employees would be responsible for making a 5.8 percent contribution into their own pension plans, and pay 12 percent of their health care benefits. As it currently stands, public employees pay 6 percent their pension and 0.2 percent to their healthcare. These reforms are very moderate relative to Wisconsin’s budget crises.
Naturally, Democrats are screaming foul play to this proposal. Huge protests started to form around the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin last Wednesday. The chief concern amongst the crowd seemed to be the belief that Walker’s proposal would somehow completely destroy Wisconsin’s education system. The crowd toted absurd signs denouncing Walker as a hater of children and education. But the real underlying goal of the union bosses who orchestrated the mindless crowd was to preserve the public union’s power at the expense of state insolvency.
The protest consisted mostly of teachers and union heads both pretending to be defending the interests of school children. Ironically, roughly 1,000 teachers called in “sick” to attend protest which forced many schools to close down. This is not only grossly hypocritical, but selfish as well. This brazen act alone warrants for those teacher’s benefits to be cut entirely.
For far too long public unions, particularly the teachers unions, have been a leech on the wallets of the American people. Union heads derive a great majority of their income from teacher’s salaries, which in turn come from the tax payers. Teachers need to dismiss the self-centered notion that they are somehow more important than the average worker, and realize that they are being used by the unions. During difficult economic times everyone must cut back. There is no reason that teachers and other public employees should be immune this.
Governor Scott Walker should be applauded for his efforts towards actual fiscal reform. Instead he is being chastised by many including our own president. But perhaps this is out of jealousy because Walker is proving to be a much more competent and effective leader than our president will ever be.