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Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Precursor to Future Action In Other States

Michael Cerkas's picture

The hard line approach taken by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to promote fiscal responsibility and resolve a massive state budget deficit in Wisconsin reflects the consistent and unambiguous message that voters in Wisconsin and across the country sent to government at state and federal levels in the mid-term elections held last November.

To GOP politicians, the response came as a result of having been voted into office after one of the largest landslide elections in political history that changed political party majorities in many states. The message was crystal clear. Stop the spending, create jobs and balance the budget.

Incumbent Democratic Senators and members of Congress were voted out en masse in response to out-of-control state and federal budgets, health care reform, job losses and rapidly increasing taxes.

The political conflict and challenge that is occurring in Wisconsin now is a precursor of change that many expect to sweep across the nation in upcoming months, state by state.

The initial response in Wisconsin to the proposed Budget Repair Bill discussion at the state senate in Madison culminated with an organized absence by all 14 Democratic State Senators at the legislative session by physically fleeing the state to Illinois to avoid a vote on the proposed Budget Repair Bill created by newly elected governor Walker and his staff.

Read about the initial Wisconsin budget proposal and reaction it received here.

Upon becoming aware of the proposed effort to address the deficit budget in Wisconsin last week, President Obama made it a point to publicly denounce the state’s action and brand the effort as an “assault on unions.” His comments reflected the acknowledgement that other states with new GOP leadership from last November are observing the action and tact being taken by Wisconsin and will most likely pursue a similar approach.

Specifically, President Obama stated, “Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions.”

As further indication that Democrats recognize the significance of precedent being made by Wisconsin, the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and ‘Organizing for America’ had sent support to the protestors demonstrating at the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison.

In response to the president, House Speaker Boehner issued the following statement, “The White House has even unleashed the Democratic National Committee to spread disinformation and confusion in Wisconsin regarding the governor’s courageous actions.” He added, “I urge the president to order the DNC to suspend these tactics.”

Republicans and Democrats alike are fully aware of the significance and potential domino effect that the efforts of Wisconsin could have on other newly Republican led states.

States that are expected to closely watch and follow the lead of Wisconsin Governor Walker include Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Arizona, Florida and New Mexico.

Specifically, the bottom line changes being pursued by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker include:
• Pension funding – Proposal for most state employees to contribute 5.8% vs Present contribution of nothing
• Health Care – Proposal for state employees to contribute 12.5% of costs vs Present contribution near 6%
• Union – Limit collective bargaining to wages only vs. Present ability that includes wages and all benefits

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