Time for the Guv to morph into Chris Christie
My husband and I and a couple hundred friends watched in Green Bay as Governor Scott Walker signed a budget that brings Wisconsin from decades of fiscal mismanagement, debt and deficits to a biennium free of tax hikes, budget tricks or gimmicks. I for one, had goosebumps.
But it's that collective bargaining business that still nags as the elephant in the room.
Yesterday's Journal-Sentinel quoted Walker as saying he could have done it better.
"The one mistake I will freely lay on the table... I said, 'There is a problem here. We've got to address it. If we let it linger, it will only get bigger. Let's tackle it right away.' What I should have done from a political standpoint is build that case sooner. I focused on getting it done."
Torinus and Nettles raised the same issue over the weekend. From WisPolitics.com:
.... But after he announced his plan in early February, setting off mass protests at the Capitol in Madison, Walker said organized labor and other opponents "swooped in," spending millions attacking the plan.
"They defined it as a rights issue," Walker said. "It's not a rights issue. It's an expensive entitlement."
John Torinus of Serigraph Inc. and [former Commerce Secretary] Cory Nettles of Generation Growth Capital praised Gov. Scott Walker on "UpFront for Mike Gousha" for already changing perceptions about the state business climate.
(Former U.S. Representative Obey says the GOP's approach was thuggish. Ok, I'm shocked. Nevertheless, it's ridiculous. How much have you appreciated the thuggishness, disrespect and incivility of the left and its unions that have been on embarrassing display since February?)
But... both raised concerns about the tone Walker has set.
.... "The business community is absolutely head over heels in love with the work that he's done over these last six months, so generally I'd give him a good, solid grade there," Nettles said. "The one area that would really concern me is the tone that's been set, which I think sets him up for a very serious course correction."
....[Torinus] raised fears that things are so polarized in the Capitol now that legislation like a venture capital bill could have a tough time making it through both houses to become law.
I'm begging the Guv - Please, please do a Chris Christie. Set up town hall forums around the state. Talk to us little people out here in the hinterlands about your proposals that are now law. TAKE QUESTIONS. Come to the people. Ok, no signs, no noisemakers. And sadly, probably you'll want metal detectors. But anybody, anybody gets in. No invite required. Yes, bring in the security - I know it will be a headache. You are up to it. You've been tremendously courageous thus far. You're confident in the tough budget decisions you've made, confident in the economic principles around which you formulated your budget and you're absolutely resolute to do what's best for Wisconsin.
Some of this stuff is complex and tough to explain. I get that. Many folks out here are with you Governor, and with the courageous legislators that supported you, your Budget Repair Bill, its collective bargaining reforms and the balanced budget you presented to them. But all sorts of folks need to get the connection to the local level, they need to hear your side of things when their municipality decries your budget or when their teacher friends and acquaintances deride (is that a polite way of saying it?) your supposedly complete insensitivity.
And for sure, have your staff do the YouTube thing - capturing the Christie moments that are sure to occur. Take the taxpayers' side Mr. Governor. Help us out here - before the Recall Elections!
In other news....
(There's just way too much of really great, interesting, world-changing news to even touch the surface!)
In March, Adam Rodewald at the Oshkosh Northwestern analyzed the Oshkosh teacher's union contract - and you can see exactly how collective bargaining increases your costs and mine. Like 90 sick days every school year - and 7 for funerals. Yikes! An absolutely excellent piece. You may want to print it off so you have it - Gannett will archive it any day now, though it's well worth paying for if you have to. Then find someone to help you do the same analysis in your community.
Ohmigosh. Wisconsin's costs rise for Talgo trains. I'm shocked, absolutely shocked.
This John Stossel piece is excellent - how Puerto Rico and Canada did what Scott Walker did - before there was a Scott Walker.
Read at least to page 4 in this June 21 NY Times piece, "Public Unions Take On Boss to Win big Pensions."
It was informally known among local union leaders as "Operation Domino," and for years the goal was straightforward: persuade one city to increase salaries and pensions for workers, and then approach neighboring municipalities and argue that if the increases weren't matched, the city's police, firefighters or other employees might quit, in large numbers, and go elsewhere.
For those of you who haven't read it, you can read here how WEA Trust has been ripping off (well, that's me talking) the Appleton School District for years - and got rewarded for it. There's more to it than appears in the article, but you get the picture. For more info, read this January, 2011 MacIver study.
Jo Egelhoff, FoxPolitics.net