South University Online
Democracy or Communism? On March 11, 2011, Governor Scott Walker signed into law the Budget Repair Bill, which calls for sweeping changes in the law relating to public sector employee relations. Governor Walker claims that Wisconsin is broke even though the state faced a larger deficit in the last budget and approached it with responsible cuts that protected vital services like education, health care and public safety. The bill includes language that would allow officials assigned by the governor to make cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process, including more than $1 billion in cuts to state aid to school districts and local governments. It is important that Wisconsin be prudent and wise with its priorities and our budget choices. As Governor Walker’s budget is proposed, taxpayers will spend more on some groups while vital services and programs that our communities depend on, will be cut. Employees will be treated differently, there will be changes to the state and local governments, schools and union bargaining rights will be eliminated by the Budget Repair Bill.
To mention a few, but not less important the Budget Repair Bill (BRB) provided local governments with the ability to treat affected employees as “at-will”. “Employees who could be disciplined for any reason or no reason at all subject only to individual employment contracts, local ordinances, state and federal discrimination laws and certain state regulations that provide a narrow class of employees with protections”(Bill 11,sec 9332,2011). This means that more or less, if your boss hates you, you are fired! “Repeals the state recycling requirement, eliminates all funding for county and municipal recycling services, and uses the recycling money to finance unrelated state economics".(Bill 11.Sec 9332, 2011) Recyclables are all valuable, but most require them to be processed and baled first before being sold into the marketplace, yes, for a profit. Recycling by its very nature is economic development, as you are repurposing materials through the economy and saving manufacturers costs on energy, water, and materials when they use recycled in place of virgin materials. This move is extremely short sighted.
Next are the state and local government and schools changes. Calling his state "broke," Walker created a budget that slashes spending by $4.2 billion. The cuts fall heavily on school districts, counties and municipalities because state aid to them eats up more than half the budget. The bill also “requires state employees to contribute 5.8% of their pay to their pensions. This proposal also requires state workers to pick up at least 12.6 % of the cost of their health care premiums and trims overall benefits in health plans”. (Bill 11. Sec.9355, 2011). Walker's budget reduces aid to the public higher education system by $250 million. Four-year-old kindergartens across the state are likely to be affected by the more than $800 million in cuts to public schools in the Governor’s budget. 4K is funded through the school funding formula that allocates funding to local school districts. Currently 85 percent of school districts offer 4K. Under the Governor’s proposal, 4K programs would continue with a 10% cut. The cut would result in an annual allocation of $1.35 million per year for 4K start-up grants.
Current law allows public employers to bargain with union over a range of issues including wages, benefits, and procedures for disciplining employees and decisions on whether to subcontract work done by union members. Walker proposed also: “The bill would various changes to limit collective bargaining for most public employees to wages. Total wage increases would not exceed a cap based on the consumer price index unless approved by referendum. Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the