High Noon for Wisconsin’s Schools

February 21st, 2011 at 1:33 pm | 76 Comments |

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That Governor Scott Walker chose to fire the first shot in Wisconsin’s budget battle at teachers unions should not come as a surprise to those familiar with the popular conservative, or the tea party.  Both hold the conviction that the relationship between public education spending and education quality is dubious at best.

Teachers unions have long been the target of conservative ire, being blamed for protecting obsolescent teachers, absorbing too much state funding, and more.  With the rise of the ideologically zealous tea party baptized GOP class of 2011, the attack on education unions should come as no surprise.  And of course there is that winner take all detail: police and firefighter unions supported Walker, while Wisconsin teachers unions spent $200 million opposing him.

While Walker battles unions and seeks to balance the budget, the greater question is one of vision.  What do Wisconsinites want from their government?  Wisconsin boasts one of the best education systems in the union, both for secondary education and higher education.  While forcing teachers to double their healthcare contributions and increase their pension contributions – a pay cut of about 8% – won’t degrade the quality of education in the state, Wisconsin Republicans had better realize that they now own the quality of Wisconsin education, and letting it deteriorate would lead to enduring negative consequences not only for Republican lawmakers, but for Wisconsin residents.

One state to the west, former Governor Tim Pawlenty dealt with big deficits in another way.  He did not hesitate to cut spending on a slew of state programs, including politically sensitive ones like food and healthcare subsidies for the poor.  However, he always protected two things, security and education.  While he prioritized what was most important to the state, he also used innovation to bring down costs in other areas like state employee health plans, while not sacrificing quality.  He was also an early proponent of merit based pay for teachers, in an effort to improve the already high quality of education in Minnesota.  While Pawlenty earned the wrath of Minnesota’s liberals, his legacy is not that of a reckless budget slasher who cut for the sake of cutting.  The crucial detail of his legacy is that he coupled tough fiscal conservatism with an innovative vision.  The takeaway here is that Pawlenty, and other conservative innovators like Mitch Daniels, have grafted market innovations into government policies to improve the situation of their citizens; they have not simply hacked at budgets to get the government out of people’s lives.

For Walker and Wisconsin’s tea party class, the biggest battle will not be the current clash with teachers unions.  The crucial point will come with Walker’s next move.  “Where are you taking us?” will ask Wisconsin residents.  Let’s hope he has an answer.


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76 Comments so far ↓

  • Non-Contributor

    When Wisconsin looks like Mexico the teabaggers will be happy.

  • Xunzi Washington

    “While forcing teachers to double their health-care contributions and increase their pension contributions – a pay cut of about 8% – won’t degrade the quality of education in the state…”

    Really? How’s that? You raise the cost of being in a particular job, and you get less motivated and capable people willing to pursue it, and/or get people in those jobs more willing to move to places without those costs, as you’ve made the job less desirable. It also strikes me as bizarre when people make these claims about public sector work when they would not make them about private sector work.

  • kevin47

    Xunzi,

    In the private sector, successful people earn substantially more than unsuccessful people. When you cut pay and benefits, there is certainly an intangible effect on worker morale, but the most compelling reason to keep rates high is that other companies are competing for your employees.

    In the case of collective bargaining, this powerful incentive is largely removed. Everyone makes approximately the same, commensurate with experience. The credentialing process (crafted with no small bit of help from the teachers unions) makes it difficult to switch states.

    Also, Pawlenty didn’t touch schools because it was politically untenable, regardless of his stated reason.

    • Madeline

      “In the private sector, successful people earn substantially more than unsuccessful people.”

      How are we defining “success” here? Making more money? Because if so, that’s a tautological statement – - successful people are more successful than unsuccessful people — and is essentially meaningless.

      • PracticalGirl

        kevin47:

        “In the private sector, successful people earn substantially more than unsuccessful people’

        Would it be too obtuse to point out that, um, the public sector isn’t private, and doesn’t operate with the same goals as businesses in the private sector-namely, profit? Public employees have a very different charge. But let’s go with what your statment implies. So-

        An inner city cop lucky enough to work in a high crime neighborhood gets more collars than a cop who has few arrests in an area relatively crime free. Should cop #1 make more than cop # 2? An EMT who responds to everyday suburban calls comes to the hospital with the most people who survive a health crisis should make more than one who serves an elderly, high-risk community? Or maybe one garbage collector should get paid more than another if more people on his route recycle more than another route? In each case, one could easily be viewed “more successful” than another, but it ignores the obvious variables inherent in this kind of work.

        Collective bargaining ensures parity and security for employees who dedicate their careers to a flat-pay sector where the quality of their personal service, not the outcome, is the only thing they can really control. How is this different in education-a public industry where the quality of product walking through the school doors is LARGELY out of control of the service employer-the teacher? Asked a similar question below. Sorry for the duplicates.

    • kimmah

      Frankly, I don’t think I deserve to make more money than another teacher simply because I ended up with the better scheduling mix of students. There are so many variables in testing and performance-based evaluations that the average person who doesn’t obsess over AYP and projected performance can’t be expected to understand the intricacies. Paying me substantially more because I was more “successful” will simply make me less likely to try new unproven ideas or willingly throw my name in the hat to teach advanced courses (kids in the top quintile of performance are notoriously harder to make gains with than the lower ones).

      Education is not, never has been and never will be something that can be measured as a business can.

    • Xunzi Washington

      Kevin,

      I’m not seeing how this is a reply to what I said. If you reduce benefits/wages/compensation, people are motivated to (a) seek different careers and/or (b) seek the same career elsewhere.

      That’s a fact, whether you are in a private or public job. Thus: giving people in a public sector job an 8% pay cut (I presume only the start of it all) you increase the disincentives of pursuing that job, thus you get less qualified people.

  • ottovbvs

    Teachers may be most visible but it’s not just teachers it’s all state workers except firemen and police (er…why were they exempt again?). These people have enormous leverage in any war of attrition as Walker is going to find out.

    kevin47 // Feb 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    “In the private sector, successful people earn substantially more than unsuccessful people. ”

    This is a vast generalization. In similar occupations in the private sector you have people of mixed abilities all more or less earning the same. The odd real highfligher might get a little more and the total ass get eased out but even a few asses manage to survive. Teachers do tend to have more protections but because a few duds manage to stay in the system doesn’t mean all teachers are incompetent. In practice the mix of abilities isn’t going to be very different from a group of clerks, a group of salesmen, a group of engineers, etc.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “In the private sector, successful people earn substantially more than unsuccessful people.”

    Oh, that must explain the billions being paid out to Wall Street executives over the last three years. Thanks.

  • Non-Contributor

    That is such BS about the private sector. The top 1% get everything and dole about the rest like table scrapes. Even if your in the top 10% your lucky to get marginally more than the majority which is at best this year is below cost of living.

    Exempt employees are starting to get squeezed by corporations banding together to reduce expenses and push more costs to employees. Work out of your house? Great now since you have a phone there should no reason to install another. Mileage, food, hotel, phone, internet, tolls, allowable expenses are continuing to be reduced. Companies get together and discuss ways to cut benefits and reduce overall payments to employees but when employees organize it is considered Marxist.

    Kevin47 I hope your a rich son of a bitch otherwise your an idiot.

  • PracticalGirl

    God, help me, but I’m going to ask the obvious of kevin47:

    Please, how you define “educational success”. Further, please compare the “product” in this “business” to the product from any other private sector as you define. Do you see any variables in public education that might skew the evaluation process of “teacher success”? If a teacher starts out with a subpar group (scores/grades), improves those scores but they are still subpar, is that success?

  • hisgirlfriday

    It’s not just high noon for schools or teachers.

    It’s high noon for a bunch of other workers like correctional officers, snowplow drivers, home care workers, nurses for the mentally ill and disabled, secretaries and even some police officers (the university police are not exempted by the bill). Yet these people are “union thugs” according to a wide swath of the electorate?

    It’s also high noon for Medicaid. Walker has a provision in the bill that would undo the power of the legislature as a whole to dictate Medicaid/Badgercare policy and give it to Walker) and he would put in charge of it a guy from Heritage Foundation who says states should opt out of Medicaid.

    It’s also high noon for the idea of government-sponsored hedge funds. Walker is going to set up some venture fund in his bill with tax dollars. Ohio is setting up a similar one and Kasich has hired someone to run it who lives in California despite a requirement that all Ohio state employees live in Ohio.

    It’s also high noon for the entire idea of infrastructure for the public good. Walker refused the federal government’s high speed rail investment. His budget rejects the federal government’s rural broadband investment. Meanwhile, Walker’s “budget repair” bill gives him the authority to sell off state-owned power plants in no-bid contracts. Hmmmm… I wonder what Koch brothers would pay for it. Or did they already with their campaign cash?

    It’s a shame how much of our national newspapers/TV coverage is so myopic that it doesn’t take a look at what’s going in state capitals more often.

    • ottovbvs

      It’s going to be a bit of a struggle but I’m as confident as I can be that Walker is going to come massively unstuck, and in the process he’s going to have unleashed all kinds of demons in other states.

    • hisgirlfriday

      John Kasich was just on CNN talking about the union-busting bill he wants to push through in Ohio. I actually think that one doesn’t have any exceptions for police and fire departments (and remember he called a cop who ticketed him an “idiot” last week) . Apparently Obama is going to be in Ohio tomorrow for some pre-planned thing and they’re supposed to meet… awkward!

      Kasich said that the tough economic times means that we need to bring wages down in Ohio so the state can compete with other states and countries for jobs. HUH?

      I wish I had been old enough to vote for Ross Perot in ’92.

      My apologies to you Southerners for my Yankee pride here, but that’s just not Big Ten values

  • TerryF98

    The destruction of collective bargaining is to cover THIS up. Crony capitalism at it’s best. No bid contracts for the Koch brothers is a giant kickback.

    “The lion’s share of attention regarding Scott Walker’s legislative proposal has been paid to the effort to revoke Wisconsin public employees’ collective bargaining rights, but the 144-page bill (more reliable link here) is a far more exhaustive and inclusive list of the fundamentals of Republican politics in the 21st Century. Not many people have the time to plow through the whole bill but those who do will be rewarded with plenty of gems like this:

    16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

    If this isn’t the best summary of the goals of modern conservatism, I don’t know what is. It’s like a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism. Extra bonus points for the explicit effort to legally redefine the term “public interest” as “whatever the energy industry lobbyists we appoint to these unelected bureaucratic positions say it is.”

    Walker’s budget—and his intention—goes well beyond crippling public employees’ unions. He’s selling the state to the highest bidder (or more like it, the largest campaign contributor, since bids won’t be required for the acquisition of state assets). The new slogan: What’s good for the Koch brothers is good for Wisconsin. Breaking the back of labor is one part of that end goal, but not the whole of it.”

  • Rob_654

    When I was in a Union going through college I could see why some folks stayed in it – some extra job security, collective bargaining – but I wanted the money of the private sector so I have given up things that I had with a Union job to make a higher salary.

    If Wisconsin wants to gut the Union and basically have teachers act like a private sector job – will they really save any money – assuming that they want to hire very good employees? Or will they have to move downstream to lower qualified employees who are not as good but will work for cheaper wages?

    In the private sector you typically have to pay well for very good employees so we’ll see…

    • hisgirlfriday

      If we let this destruction and demagoguery of government continue we almost certainly will no longer have a functioning public school system.

      –The rich don’t send their kids to public schools so they want vouchers for private school.
      –You already have the rabid fundamentalist homeschoolers decrying public schools about moral/religion and don’t want to pay for them.
      –Real reform efforts get hijacked by crony capitalism a la Neil Bush, Michael Milken and Alwaleed bin Talal getting millions in No Child Left Behind dollars for crappy education software. Rupert Murdoch also got into the K-12 education business he called “$500 billion public education sector” just a few days after he saw all the Republican governors he gave money and support to elected.
      –Then there’s the elitist liberal/conservative consensus propagated by “Waiting for Superman” that all teachers unions are the evil and Michelle Rhee is the bestest ever.
      –And to top it all off our governments are no longer funding our best public universities adequately so at the same time folks are seeing decreased/stagnant wages/unemployment they’re seeing tuition costs go up 5-10 percent every year while at the same time their quality of education suffers.

      As for your question about whether destroying unions will lead to better budgets… well… Texas has a $27 B deficit and bans public employee unions.

      • PracticalGirl

        “–The rich don’t send their kids to public schools so they want vouchers for private school.”

        Gotta disagree with you on that one- I think you have it exactly backwards. While many people who send their children to private schools would happily take the money, it’s the lower-to-middle class families who are the strongest voices crying for vouchers. They are under the impression that somehow, magically, education parity will be attained with this sort of system.

        They’re wrong.

        The truth is, many many people send their children to private schools not just for a better education but for a better educational environment. They choose programs where the children come from homes that value education, with high parental involvement and very low motivational/disciplinary problems. They choose schools with stiff curricula that the average student cannot keep up with. They choose schools with tiny student-to-teacher ratios for the enrichment value. They choose schools with programs that include things like daily physical education, full art and foreign language departments. You know, the things that too many Americans have been too willing to cut from public programs because, well, they don’t want to PAY FOR IT.

        Vouchers-Will-Save-All is a lie. It’s perpetrated by those who don’t understand (as well as though who know) that the discrepancies in quality educational opportunities will only widen, not narrow with such a system. POOF! We all have vouchers. All those schools people have been choosing to pay for with their own money, sometimes even getting a second job to so so? They’ll simply hike their tuition by exactly the voucher amount, preserve all the things about their school that attracted the paying customers in the first place and use the extra money to increase the quality of services for their existing students. Sure, they’ll “compete” for the best students, in much the same way that Andover and Exeter do. And the people who think that a voucher will magically get their children the education they deserve? They’ll be forced to either pony up the additional tuition money along with their voucher money OR “choose” schools that will be providing programs that are operating on whatever budget the vouchers will allow.

        Bottom line: Those who have been willing to pay over and above their tax money for private educations (not just rich folks, either) will continue to be fine. Those who have consistently balked and bitched about paying for the amenities we’ve lost over the years through defunding and lower tax rates will only have something new to scream about. And there will be a chasm of people in the middle whose children will fall farther and farther behind in a school “system” that provides the highest quality to the highest bidders…Just like in any private sector business.

  • Xunzi Washington

    In a way, the logic is perverse

    1. Complain that public service employees do crappy jobs, and produce substandard services.
    2. Slash the pay for those jobs to match the perceptions of (1)
    3. Via (2), make public service jobs more unattractive and you get a worse demographic of people applying for those jobs.
    4. Via (3) wind up with worse services, resulting in a return to (1).
    5. Continue loop.

  • kevin47

    How are we defining “success” here? Making more money?

    No. Doing their jobs well.

    An inner city cop lucky enough to work in a high crime neighborhood gets more collars than a cop who has few arrests in an area relatively crime free.

    Why would we apply such a facile metric for success when the private sector does not?

    Oh, that must explain the billions being paid out to Wall Street executives over the last three years. Thanks.

    Wall Street has become the de facto public sector.

    That is such BS about the private sector. The top 1% get everything and dole about the rest like table scrapes.

    This is the fundamental assumption that guides the discussion. Either you think any job outside of collective bargaining essentially relegates everyone to being a wage slave, in which case you are for the most powerful union possible, or you don’t.

    I don’t, based on my own personal experience and the data available.

    • PracticalGirl

      kevin47:

      “Either you think any job outside of collective bargaining essentially relegates everyone to being a wage slave, in which case you are for the most powerful union possible, or you don’t.”

      No, kevin, this is not that black-and-white, and you know better than that.

      But here you go: POOF! You are the Czar of all Czars and public unions are yours to destroy. How, now, will you keep the services constant? With all those cream-of-the-crop employees now demanding private sector pay (I assume you’ll be decimating the pension programs), how will you teach your underlings to evaluate and reward the best, weed out the worst and-oh, yeah- keep services affordable at the same time?

  • Non-Contributor

    Well I would like to see what data you have that shows that the distribution of wages in large corporations is not skewed towards the top 1%.

    Oh, let me guess, you don’t really have any data.

  • Non-Contributor

    Here 2006 CEO average 262 times average employee:

    http://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/webfeatures_snapshots_20060621/

  • Non-Contributor

    Top 400 U.S. Earners See Income Rise 476% In Last 15 Years:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/05/income-inequality-top-400_n_487878.html

  • Non-Contributor

    “According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the pay of the average worker remained almost flat at $27,000 from 1990 to 2004, adjusted for inflation, while average chief executive pay has risen from $2.82 million to $11.8 million. Some economists see this a part of a national, or even global trend — the wealthiest among us — are getting richer and richer.”

    http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/16/33/2968109.pdf

  • Stewardship

    My dad was a school superintendent. He makes about $50,000 in pension income plus has 100% healthcare coverage with no premiums. He always argues that he contributed 3% of the total contribution (not 3% of his wages, but 3% of the school’s contribution) towards his own retirement. Educators in my city are waging a facebook campaign today passing around a BS statement titled “so you think teachers are overpaid?”

    I don’t think teachers are overpaid in my midwestern city. The average salary is probably in the mid-$50,000 range. It’s the benefits…and their arrogance that they deserve better benefits than anyone else that slays me. Who else gets 14 weeks paid vacation, pension, healthcare, family leave, etc? Let alone the fact that they don’t contribute squat towards their benefits.

    We had two female teachers last year tap into the school’s health insurance to fund fertility work ($20,000 a pop). They both had triplets…and both hit the school’s insurance for $2,000,000 in each in pre-natal ICU, and neonatal ICU. Now, taxpayers are being asked to pay more (teachers are not being asked to pay a higher percentage) to cover the huge increase in the school’s premium. I don’t know if I’m madder at the school board for covering fertility (and its aftermath) or to the two teachers who see no problem saddling taxpayers to the tune of $4,000,000.

  • Non-Contributor

    “But when we compare apples to apples, we find that Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation than comparable private sector workers. ”

    http://www.epi.org/page/-/old/policy/EPI_PolicyMemorandum_173.pdf

  • kevin47

    [q]Educators in my city are waging a facebook campaign today passing around a BS statement titled “so you think teachers are overpaid?”
    [/q]

    Yeah, I’ve had about enough of that one. These people engage in dishonest, emotionally charged arguments, and then wonder why the public if fed up.

    non-contributor

    Do you think all industries should belong to the public sector? If not, why not, and how do you square that conclusion with what you seem to be arguing via cut and paste?

  • Non-Contributor

    Oh as as far as that Public Sector workers shouldn’t have something that isn’t available in the Private Sector” (paraphrase).

    “In 2010, 7.6 million public sector employees belonged to a union, compared with 7.1
    million union workers in the private sector.”

    Additionally all the statistics on average wages of union vs non-union.

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.t04.htm

  • Rabiner

    Kevin47:

    “Do you think all industries should belong to the public sector? If not, why not, and how do you square that conclusion with what you seem to be arguing via cut and paste?”

    I’ll answer this one since its so damn easy. The public sector has a particular role in any society versus the role that the private sector does.

    Public goods are inherently different than private goods in a few ways: Public goods typically can be freeloaded, have high entrance barriers, or have large economies of scale (monopolies are most efficient). Examples of public goods are infrastructure, national defense, and public safety. Education also fits into the realm of Public Good since having a basic level of educated citizenry is demanded for a functioning representative government. A street light will not just be working for your neighbors and not you, roads will be utilized by everyone, and so forth. This is why those things are best provided by government over private enterprise (even if its private enterprise that builds them). Fire and Police services are public goods since how do you preclude different people within the community from those services without putting everyone else at risk? Education as well is most efficiently provided in the public sector since it has diminishing economies of scale. Fixed costs are high, variable costs are high if you are trying to provide a wide range of courses but as you increase the student population, the costs stay virtually the same.

    Health care is an interesting situation between public and private involvement. Private management of services is probably the most efficient means of providing health care. However, public purchasing of services is the most efficient means of buying health care since the market cannot work like a normal market which is price sensitive. A normal consumer will be aware of the price and demand services based on that price, however if that service is going to keep them alive, they’re ability to price the value of that service no longer works in a reasonable fashion.

    Outside of those things I mentioned, Private markets are probably the most effective means of providing services. However, regulations are required to reign in private markets with relations to labor laws, environmental laws, intellectual property laws and monopolistic practices to limit competition.

  • ktward

    I’m reminded of the specious argument I’ve seen so ubiquitously bandied about by conservalibertarians: “But but, if you tax the wealthy–doctors and lawyers and rocket scientists and train builders and such–then they’ll lose their motivation to work as hard. Innovation will disappear and civilization will crumble.”

    The crux of this silly argument being: these peeps gots to makes lots and lotsa dough or important stuff won’t happen.

    I submit that the education of every kid is important stuff, and teachers should be well paid. Private school teachers make bupkis– they wish they earned a salary commensurate with their public school counterparts, and many are teaching in private schools simply because they couldn’t secure a public district gig.

    Garbage collection is important stuff. Ask any New Yorker who’s lived through a sanitation strike.

    I could go on, but I won’t. I have a greater point to make.

    Free market competition simply isn’t a driver in the public sector.
    Unlike biz, no government entity exists for the goal of generating profit. So public sector unions are essential to attracting competent workers.

    Follow me here.

    Company A’s workers can expect to receive a salary raise (or not) based on Company A’s profit margins. Theoretically, when Company A does well, so does its employees. If Company A does really well for itself and can expand, it can spend money on perks and benies that attracts exceptionally competent workers. But, every scenario is reliant upon Company A’s success (or not) in the free market.

    Public service is different. For these employees, their “company” is a government entity which operates as a necessary public service. Taxes fund their paychecks, not profits. In this respect, public sector unions are more critically necessary than private sector unions.

    It is public sector services that will suffer if these workers are stripped of collective bargaining rights. You think that teachers suck now?* Just wait.

    *I don’t personally agree with this. I’ve worked among public school teachers for almost 15 years. Some bad actors? Yep. But way fewer than you’ll find on Wall Street, I suspect.

  • jquintana

    ktward // Feb 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm:

    public sector unions are more critically necessary than private sector unions

    And far more subject to corruption. In a state where public employees are allowed to unionize, this is the process:
    1) State treasuries are mostly filled from tax revenue collected from the private sector
    2) Public employees are paid out the state treasury
    3) Part of the public employees’ paycheck is withheld in the form of union dues for public employee unions
    4) These public employee unions take this revenue and use it to help elect pro-union public officials
    5) Once they’re successful in electing ‘their guy,’ public employee union representatives negotiate their contracts with the very public officials they help to elect.

    Anyone notice a problem here? It would appear that public employee unions are an apparatus designed—either intentionally or unintentionally—to indirectly funnel campaign contributions from private citizens to pro-union candidates.

    Basically, whether you’re Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Green, Conservative, Socialist, or Liberal, you should be concerned about this. Your hard-earned money is stolen from you to help elect public officials with whom you may not agree on many political issues, and for whom you may not vote. In turn, these public officials go to the unions who elected them and reward them with even more of your tax dollars in the form of padded union contracts.

    This is all the more insidious when you take into consideration there are millions of people out of work right now who would give their left arm for a job, while these public employee union members in Wisconsin get paid to ditch work all week and whine about having to make a tiny contribution to their health care and pension—a contribution about half that of the average contribution made by the private sector.

    • Xunzi Washington

      jquintana

      Can you please link me to the location that shows that the Wisconsin public unions charge mandatory PAC contributions?

      • jquintana

        That’s a strawman argument if I ever heard one. Where in my statement did I mention anything about PAC contributions? You need to read my post a bit more clearly.

    • politicalfan

      “there are millions of people out of work right”

      JQ- the moment that we see these teachers jump in their private planes to meet the Gov, I would agree with you.

      The moment that these teachers make multi-millions and ask to be placed in the 10% for tax cuts. I would again agree.

      The moment that these teachers are too big to fail and we have to give our tax dollars to bail them out, I would again agree.

      The hate of unions is understood.(Not by me). As the hate of Corporations greed is well understood. (not be me but more annoying).
      There is good and bad in every bunch.

      Just might be that there is a pretty good teacher in there doing everything by the book. However, some one wants them to give up a big chunk of their paycheck. Which (by the way) I understand that these teachers have agreed with. They don’t want to lose their right to bargain. Such whiners, I guess (not according to me). I would love to have the whiners bank bonuses back to pay back the tax payers. Have they paid us back JQ?

      Dislike the unions to make your point but if you think that people are not taking notice of the greed of small and or big government, you’d be kidding yourself.

      Lord Farquaad has picked a tough battle in this economy. Trickle down economics- ya know. Take away a few hundred out of their paychecks and see if that does not impact small business. No problem at all, big business is ready to come in any how. (dramatic effect). Many people will take a hit, let’s be honest here. Things are tough before they get better. Be careful what you wish for…

  • TerryF98

    As I said this has nothing to do with Teachers and everything to do with Power plants in WI.

    “There are two big whoppers in this bill, which is passing through the zeitgeist like ships in the night.

    It will allow the Koch Brothers to buy or contract to operate of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants in Wisconsin without a solicitation of bids.

    This is what it is about at the end of the day, and their puppet, Governor Walker, is ready to sell the Koch Brothers the utility system of Wisconsin for pennies on the dollar for his paymasters.

    Governor Walker has intentionally muddied the waters concerning unions to muddy waters hoping no one will see the wholescale give-a-way of the public infrastructure to private interests.

    Not only that, they are trying to redefine “public interest”! Who gets to decide? Not the public, Governor Walker by fiat!

    Now combine that with the Koch Brothers’ existing operations in Wisconsin:

    http://www.kochind.com/

    According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.”

  • ktward

    Stewardship.

    You are way smarter than your ‘fertility’ argument screams.

    You and I both know that the school district’s taxpayers did not exclusively bear the brunt of those teachers’ fertility/delivery expenses. Those expenses were spread out among the subscribers of the Insurance carrier, with likely members numbering in the millions.

    Now, I’m aware that some municipal districts attempt to self-fund their health care insurance in order to contain costs. But among those, I’m not aware of any that don’t impose highly restrictive benefits when it comes to the costliest procedures and treatments. Fertility treatments and consequential neonatal care being high up on that list.

    • politicalfan

      kt- what are some of the other budget cuts in health care in this Wisconsin bill? I am hearing about collective bargaining and not much else…

  • ktward

    jquintana.

    Corruption is a problem, no question.
    But I can tell you for a fact that I’ve suffered exponentially more harm to my personal bottom line via Wall Street corruption than I have via any purported municipal corruption.

    You write:
    “… while these public employee union members in Wisconsin get paid to ditch work all week and whine about having to make a tiny contribution to their health care and pension—a contribution about half that of the average contribution made by the private sector.”

    Relatively old news, but surprisingly you’re not even aware that these unions have already acceded to Walker’s cuts in this regard. What they’re unwilling to do is give up their collective bargaining rights.

    There is a world of info waiting for you outside of Fox News and Breitbart. Just saying.

  • politicalfan

    TerryF98 – links please?

    Here is one for you. Evidently ‘most Americans’ get this but some us simply do not (but again some of us simply don’t understand why people in super high tax brackets need more tax cuts). The time of selling this concept may not sit well with the Americans that don’t agree with this blog post below. People can deal with change but not a quick one.
    http://conhomeusa.typepad.com/therepublican/2011/02/wisconsin-protests-two-injustices.html

    Everyone, sing along, ‘I want to be a billionaire!’
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aRor905cCw

    • TerryF98

      What do you want links to? The Bill is on line and you can read the portion that allows the Gov to sell the states assets with no bids for whatever price he likes. The relevant section is this.

      16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

      So now he can sell with no bid contracts.

      I am guessing that he will give in on the Collective bargaining and Democrats will claim a victory and dance in the streets only to see later that they have been fooled. The current issue is a means to cover for the sale of state assets to Koch at pennies on the dollar, and if the bill passes as written there is nothing the voters can do about it because No approval will be required see above.

      It’s pretty clever stuff, create a diversion and benefit your campaign donors in the fog.

      • politicalfan

        The bill is many pages. I don’t doubt for a second that this bill is not being looked at with a fine-toothed comb.

        • dante

          As an FYI, this bill WASN’T looked through with a fine tooth comb before all of the protests. It was dropped on a Friday afternoon with a planned vote the following Tues.

          Four days.

          No debate.

          One “public” hearing that the GOP shut down after 17 hours.

          And the GOP wonders why there were 70,000 people out protesting on Saturday.

      • Bagok

        I haven’t looked up any numbers but I can’t imagine the state owns many power plants. Probably a university plant or two, maybe a steam plant in Madison or something. I don’t think anyone is going to make too much money from them. Has anyone seen any numbers on this?

        However, no bid selling of assets to lower a deficit is just plain stupid. It may be more about sticking it to the union plant employees than anything else.

        Edit: I think there are three state owned plants, from a quick look at wikipedia:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_Wisconsin

        • hisgirlfriday

          State-owned coal-fired power plants in Wisconsin

          In Madison:

          Capitol Heat and Power

          Hill Farms

          Mendota Mental Health Institute

          UW-Madison Charter Street Heating Plant

          Around the state:

          Northern Wisconsin Center, Chippewa Falls

          UW campuses: Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Stout, Superior

          Waupun Correctional Institution

          Winnebago Mental Health Institute, Oshkosh

          SOURCE: State Department of Administration

          http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_aa2a3092-fe83-11df-8970-001cc4c03286.html

          Apparently these power plants were cited as possible Clean Air Act violators by the EPA. So….

          After Scotty sells them off to the Koch Brothers for more campaign cash, the Republicans just won’t provide any money to fund the EPA and the Kochs can pollute and profit all they want!

        • Bagok

          Thnx for the info friday.
          Here’s another pretty good article. http://www.jsonline.com/business/116204654.html.

          “It’s unclear what the market value of the plants would be. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau analyzed a similar proposal in 2005 and estimated the value of the 34 plants at $235.9 million, offset by $83.9 million in debt.”

  • Traveler

    Terry,

    Good catch. Thanks for the details for inquiring minds with no time to parse the details. I have a pretty dim view of unions myself, so I can see the points from those claiming ill gotten gains. We got laborers here in Philly charged out at $57 per hour, yet their work rules still drive away the clients (This is for public-private convention center jobs).

    But renegotiation was already conceded by the teachers, so that argument don’t fly in the present instance. I’d love to see that happen here, and if Wallace had played his cards fairly, that could have. But no, he had all sorts of nefarious agendas, cloaked in self righteous fiscal prose (after he shafted the budget to begin with!). Total asshole, takes a legitimate issue for discussion and completely blows it so nothing gets done. That’s why i cant stand the refugs.

    Your take on this escapade is frightening. It always smelled fishy how the whole bill was heard and passed, and now the snakes within come slithering to light. Good job dude. I think this will come down like the house of cards it was structured.

  • Honestly 22

    I think Walker is also laying the groundwork for dismantling Medicaid as well with his bill SB11/AB11.

    It would grant unprecedented power to the administration to change Medicaid in Wisconsin without going through the full legislature. Allowing an unelected official (Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith) to essentially make law in the state

    Dennis Smith previously from the Heritage Foundation advocated that states eliminate Medicaid completely.

    • politicalfan

      Clearly, we are in the moment of what do we cut. The states are getting in their battle mode. If the Govt shuts down, it will be about entitlements (the way that is needed to make budget cuts).

      I think this is going to be an optic nightmare for the Republicans. Wisconsin cuts are already at the forefront. They fought hard for tax cut extensions. They are going to look bought and paid for by big bucks
      picking on the poor (don’t do it).

    • ktward

      Welcome to the party, Honestly 22.
      This whole assault on collective bargaining rights was a successful ruse to distract us from a lot of bad that’s otherwise buried in this bill. The longer the WI Dem legislators stay tucked away, the longer we have to use the union protest crowds to bring attention to it all.

  • sdspringy

    The time has come for the circle of corruption to end. The circle begins when public employees receive money from the state treasury, using that to contribute to friendly politicians who then increase the public employee’s pay.

    The large public sector union AFGE does not have the right to bargain wage or benefits. It is not unheard of or an abuse of the public worker to have their bargaining rights restricted to ensure the ability to budget properly. In fact very few citizens of the nation were demanding that Obama restore the pay increases to Federal employees, those he froze for the next two years.

    Many of these same State employees probably felt that was good fiscal policy, coming from Obama, however now are not so cooperative concerning their State’s policies.

    Also many of your will remember Obama’s now famous words to Republicans during one of their first meeting, “I won the election”. In the following months Republicans did not cowardly leave the capital, unlike the Democrats of Wisconsin. The people of Wisconsin elected these people, knew before hand the policies which would be forth coming. Democrats may not like the current legislative agenda but hiding from the process is incredibly childish and proves they do not believe in the citizens of their own State.

    • politicalfan

      sdspringy-
      I don’t agree with everything President Obama has done. However, if I have bad or worse to vote for. I will take just ‘bad.’ (The Republicans are willing to smash the unions, poor etc. to balance a budget but want tax cuts). Holy smokes! Is this about cheap labor? Put everything on the table not ideological obviousness!!!

      I don’t work for a union, so the concepts may not seem dire to me. However, it is dire to these folks who do not want to lose their ability to negotiate.

      I disagree with your idea that it is a part of the budget. They have agreed to pay more but ultimately they do not want to give the entire enchilada away. This obviously weakens their ‘union’ and they can see the writing on the wall. Do the contracts pose a difficult challenge for the Gov, sure it does. I just think that we are looking at this with our ideological glasses. BTW, I don’t think that a government employee will or can call foul.

      I don’t blame those folks for holding strong considering the mess of optics that Government has provided (potential shutdown-my way or the highway). This is going to cause more resentment for a large population of people in our country. There is a reason that leaders try to move to the middle. I think Walker should work with them personally and still think this is an overreach on his part. Corporations or teachers? How are the teachers in Wisconsin doing are they effective, I think that is (yes)? I think we need teachers, actually, we need good teachers. There should be a path to doing this better.

    • dante

      Sdsrpingy – Last I checked the GOP has used the filibuster to block bills countless times in the past two years.

      The current state senators are using legal means (it is a free country) to BLOCK THIS BILL.

      Sounds just about right to me.

  • Rabiner

    Spspringy:

    “The time has come for the circle of corruption to end. The circle begins when public employees receive money from the state treasury, using that to contribute to friendly politicians who then increase the public employee’s pay.”

    So by your logic, anyone who works for the government should not be allowed to contribute to a political candidate?

    “The large public sector union AFGE does not have the right to bargain wage or benefits. It is not unheard of or an abuse of the public worker to have their bargaining rights restricted to ensure the ability to budget properly. In fact very few citizens of the nation were demanding that Obama restore the pay increases to Federal employees, those he froze for the next two years.”

    Last I checked, Obama didn’t try to take away their Union’s rights to negotiate on their behalf either.

    “Many of these same State employees probably felt that was good fiscal policy, coming from Obama, however now are not so cooperative concerning their State’s policies.”

    Again, he didn’t take away collective bargaining rights.

    “Also many of your will remember Obama’s now famous words to Republicans during one of their first meeting, “I won the election”. In the following months Republicans did not cowardly leave the capital, unlike the Democrats of Wisconsin. The people of Wisconsin elected these people, knew before hand the policies which would be forth coming. Democrats may not like the current legislative agenda but hiding from the process is incredibly childish and proves they do not believe in the citizens of their own State.”

    No, they just filibustered for 2 years. Seriously, you’re about as ignorant an individual as there seems to be on this thread based on that last comment you made.

  • Traveler

    Springy,

    If unions were the only ones corrupt, I would agree with you. And if you really mean corruption by the big bucks, I am with you all the way. But that’s not what we got here. The Dems had to leave because that’s the only filibuster method they have. Just like the refugs have done nationally for the last session. (by far the most times in history.) You are dead on the money though, the voters elected this asshole, so they get what they paid for. But he went way beyond what he should have, and that’s what pisses us off. And the way its starting to play out, I have a feeling that the voters are about to have a serious case of buyer’s remorse.

    I’ll let others rip into the incomprehensibility of your second para. I kind of get your point. Why is it that the rightist posters so rarely argue coherently? At least you are civil most of the time. I kind of appreciate you entering this fray of leftist independents.

    Oops-Rabiner already toasted you…

  • politicalfan

    “leftist independents”
    Unite!

    • Traveler

      I truly think that is what many of us are. We are on a RINO site after all, and since those are now labeled as “progressives”, our flavor of independents is now leftist. Right of center “independent” sheeple seem to to have fallen for the tea party. At least Springy seemed to appreciate civil engagement (below). Gives us hope.

  • TJ Parker

    Wisconsin doesn’t need teachers. Let the make cheese.

  • sdspringy

    Actually Rab, Federal employees do not have the right to bargain wages or benefits. WI state employees will still have the right to negotiate wages not benefits. This is not a removing collective bargaining rights. WI State employees still maintain the same bargaining rights for workplace, hours, working conditions and grievance procedures. This is not a Loss of collective bargaining rights.

    While the Republicans may have filibustered the Democrats still passed every piece of their legislative agenda. It cost them in 2010 but that is the way the game is played. Not by crying and taking your ball and leaving town.

  • politicalfan

    He is trying to be the Republican hero here, who are you kidding! Page (uno) number one!!! He makes the President look centrist.
    http://legis.wisconsin.gov/11-1426_101.pdf
    http://legis.wisconsin.gov/

    “This bill limits the right to collectively bargain for all
    employees who are not public safety employees (general employees) to the subject of
    base wages. In addition, unless a referendum authorizes a greater increase, any
    general employee who is part of a collective bargaining unit is limited to bargaining
    over a percentage of total base wages increase that is no greater than the percentage
    change in the consumer price index. This bill also prohibits municipal employers
    from collectively bargaining with municipal general employees in matters that are
    not permitted under MERA.”

    language being key (what is permitted). If I do not permit you to strike, etc. guess what?

  • Rabiner

    sdspringy:

    “Actually Rab, Federal employees do not have the right to bargain wages or benefits. WI state employees will still have the right to negotiate wages not benefits. This is not a removing collective bargaining rights. WI State employees still maintain the same bargaining rights for workplace, hours, working conditions and grievance procedures. This is not a Loss of collective bargaining rights.”

    Actually Spring, while Federal employees don’t have the right to bargain on some issues, they do have the right to negotiate other aspects of their job such as workplace rules, regulations and the like. WI State employees will lose the ability to bargain on workplace, hours, working conditions, and grievance procedures actually. But it is funny to me you mentioned all those things only to be COMPLETELY WRONG about it.

    • Slide

      sdspringy wrong again

      TSA employees to choose between AFGE and NTEU in March
      BY SAM HANANEL
      Associated Press
      Updated: 02-4-2011 1:51 pm

      WASHINGTON

      The government will grant collective bargaining rights to the nation’s 40,000 airport screeners, the head of the largest federal workers union said Friday.

      John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told The Associated Press he was informed of the decision at a meeting with John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration.

      TSA workers have tried for nearly a decade to win the same union protections as other federal employees, but Republican opponents have balked over worries that union demands could jeopardize national security or slow response times in a crisis.

      Union officials call those arguments an insult to the hundreds of thousands of public safety officers that already have collective bargaining rights, including Border Patrol agents, firefighters and the Capitol police.

      http://www.securityinfowatch.com/Executives/1319537

  • Rabiner

    “While the Republicans may have filibustered the Democrats still passed every piece of their legislative agenda. It cost them in 2010 but that is the way the game is played. Not by crying and taking your ball and leaving town.”

    And by ‘every piece of their legislative agenda’ you mean watered down versions of everything and not passing carbon emissions trading?

  • sdspringy

    Rab, Slide, collective bargaining can involve many aspects of employment. If the TSA joins the AFGE they will NOT have the right to negotiate wages or benefits. But will retain the right to negotiate workplace environment and have grievance procedures.

    WI state employees will retain the right to bargain workplace environment and wages, not benefits. IF this is incorrect please provide a reference that states what specifically WI employees will lose. So far I have only read that they lose the right to negotiate benefits.

    Also Rab whining about what gets passed does not really help the process. Don’t get all worked up over it. You get to vote so until the next election maybe your reasoned and considerate responses here will sway people to your side the the political spectrum.

    • dante

      Sorry Sdsrpingy, WI public employees lose ALL NEGOTIATING POWERS OTHER THAN SALARY WITHIN THE RATE OF INFLATION.

      No workplace environment
      No collective grievance procedures

      “This bill limits the right to collectively bargain for all employees who are not public safety employees (general employees) to the subject of base wages.”

      From the first page.

    • Slide

      wrong again sdspringy….

      ______________

      Most of the debate has focused on what bargaining rights will be curtailed and the overall effect of the plan.

      Digging deeper, the bill does eliminate all bargaining rights — wages, benefits, working conditions — for specific categories of public employees.

      It would roll back the rights to organize unions and bargain for benefits for 30,000 University of Wisconsin System faculty and academic staff. Those rights were approved by Democrats in the 2009-’11 budget.

      Not all of the 30,000 have joined a union, though. So far, under those rights, faculty at two universities, UW-Superior and UW-Eau Claire, have formed unions.

      The measure would also repeal collective bargaining rights for some 5,000 home health care workers and for 2,800 employees of University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, including nurses. It would also eliminate current collective bargaining rights of licensed child care providers.

      All of that is also discussed in summaries of the bill and a letter from Walker to state employees.

      As for the other public employees — a much larger group that includes schoolteachers, local government workers and about half of 76,000 state employees — the bill would allow collective bargaining only on a base pay rate (not overtime or special pay issues), and on raises only within the rate of inflation. That means no bargaining on fringe benefits, working conditions, outsourcing, safety and other issues.

      http://politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/17/afl-cio/wisconsin-afl-cio-says-gov-scott-walkers-budget-re/

  • politicalfan

    How much does Walker’s Department of Administration make? Is he cutting his own admin costs? I didn’t catch that.

  • Honestly 22

    Here is a gem, a WI c span video of republicans trying to push thru SB11 with an illegal vote. It gets real testy at 5 pm when the democrats walk in.

    http://www.wiseye.org/Programming/VideoArchive/SegmentDetail.aspx?segid=4946

  • dante

    And I have to say, the thing that really pisses me off about this is that I’ve always been a private-sector employee. I have ALWAYS been able to negotiate every aspect of my employment with my employer. Everything. If I wanted a higher salary than my employer was willing to accept, maybe they would be open to 3 weeks of vacation instead of 2? Or how about accepting a lower salary in exchange for a flexible work schedule? Or just a flexible work schedule to begin with (work 7-4 so you can pick up your kid after daycare, instead of 8-5)?

    It’s just WRONG that public sector workers are going to have fewer negotiating rights than private-sector employees. “Negotiation” isn’t about “me getting my way and screw you”, it’s about being able to find common ground. Removing the ability to find common ground means that you’re going to be either paying FAR more in salaries, or just not attracting anywhere near the same level of candidate.

  • sdspringy

    Very good link Slide. Also from the same article:

    The measure would eliminate bargaining rights for some groups of public employees, including nurses and teachers in higher education. That total tallies out to “thousands,” but the ad presents the question as if all public employees would lose all bargaining rights. It even selectively shortens a news account to underline this point. That is an overreach, at least as an immediate consequence of the bill.

    Though it does eliminate “collective bargaining” for some it does not for all. The information is half true.

    I have found that not being able to negotiate for wages is not a big detriment. I have always been able to increase income through job or skill changes without direct reliance upon union negotiation. However the loss of workplace environment and grievance procedure is a blow to a public sector employee. That could be considered an overreach and I would not be for that as well.

  • politicalfan

    Dante- It is about paying less money bottom line. If I am Walker, I am thinking, “get the unions out of the way, so that I don’t have to deal with paying a ton via these (contracts).” This saves money and saves him from dealing with negotiations.

    It is still an overreach. If Walker is able to get the job done. He clears a path for other states to follow. It’s always about the ‘doe’ Joe.

    If he can pack in a ton of things in there that will cause President Obama more stress. That is about making his party stronger and icing on the gingerbread. He is trying to be an evil genius (VP want to be someday) or Lord Farquaad. (Shrek). See photo of LF. http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3007158272/ch0002008

  • Slide

    Can we all agree that this is as scummy as it gets? Teabaggers! unbelievable!

    _________
    Disgraced Former Tea Party Leader Calls On Right-Wing Activists To Pose As SEIU Organizers

    National tea party groups like Americans for Prosperity have been bussing conservative activists to Madison, WI to confront protesters there standing up to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) union busting. But Tea Party Nation and Mark Williams, the disgraced former chairman of Tea Party Express, who was forced to resign after making offensive racial comments, are calling for a more radical approach. In an email alert to supporters sent last night, Tea Party Nation promotes Williams’ “great idea” to impersonate SEIU organizers at upcoming labor rallies in an attempt to embarrass and discredit the union.

    Williams lays out a highly dishonest and fairly involved scheme to have “plants” sign up on the SEIU website to be organizers for an upcoming rally, dress up in SEIU shirts, and to then make outrageous comments to reporters covering the events in order to “make the gathering look as greedy and goonish as we know that it is”
    ________

    http://thinkprogress.org/

  • politicalfan

    “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Machiavelli in “The Prince.” Both sides play infiltrate.

  • Smargalicious

    Quality of the state schools??? READ THIS: Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can’t Read Proficiently—Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending in Midwest

    http://cnsnews.com/news/article/two-thirds-wisconsin-public-school-8th-g

  • Xunzi Washington

    Let’s say that WI’s 8th graders are failing this national level assessment test (though not worse than the national average). What does Smarg conclude?

    1. The money is wasted.
    2. The teachers are terrible.

    This is typical simplistic clap trap. How about a few other possibilities:

    a. Sans the money, things get worse, quickly.
    b. The teachers are actually quite good, are up against an “product” that — unlike a widget — plays an actual autonomous role in its final shaping.

    People seem to believe that students are just factory products. If you put X amount into the plant, and pay for qualified line workers, the product should be just fine. However — shock — education doesn’t work this way. For some reason, though, thick headed people can’t seem to comprehend this basic difference between schools and businesses.

    Students resist. Bad students disrupt classes. Public schools must educate everyone, private schools don’t. Teachers deal with students with problems so wide ranging it boggles the mind, and many times have no home support structure upon which to build successful academic habits. We could go on and on. You can’t fire crappy students.

    But no, it’s just bad teachers. Take the money away, make them work with less. Remove the unions, increase the class sizes. Drive down the salary/benefits too, so we can have a race to the bottom on teacher quality.

    We’ll show em’.