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One has to wonder about the motivations for this, seemingly unnecessary recount. When JoAnne Kloppenburg prematurely “pronounced” herself the winner with a vote margin of around 200 votes, she seemed pretty confident that she had won and was anxiously awaiting a concession from Judge Prosser. However, now, after the all the votes have come in and Judge Prosser has a lead of over 7,000 votes, Kloppenburg sees the need for a recount. It is within her right to do so, as the margin of victory is less than .5%, but what can be truly gained in this case. No result of a recount in the state of Wisconsin has ever been overturned with a margin of victory of more than 400 votes (http://bit.ly/hbNgJw). This also doesn’t take into account the cost of the recount on taxpayers. Suzette Emmer, the deputy Administrator for the Milwaukee County Election Commission, says the commission estimates the recount would cost that county alone about $500,000 (http://bit.ly/hUJWN5).
When thinking about what is happening in Wisconsin in regards to Unions and Walker’s movement to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees, it’s important to consider about what it is about unions that have prompted this all. For a while now, Unions have had a large hand in creating financial instability on the state and local levels. State Governments can no longer realistically continue to fund public employee benefits without severe consequences. There’s a notion that Unions are downtrodden, struggling to keep wages fair, and to make ends meet. A lot of focus is on the teachers in Wisconsin. The federal government’s national compensation survey estimates that local public school districts pay teachers an average of $47 per hour in total compensation, including $13 per hour in benefits – figures that far outstrip not only what private school teachers earn but also the average of what all professional workers earn in private business, a category that includes engineers, architects, computer scientists, lawyers, and journalists (Shakedown by Steven Malanga, Page 29 - http://bit.ly/faA654). It’s not just the teachers, as a 2005 study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found, public-sector workers earned 46 percent more in salary and benefits than comparable private-sector workers. That gap has since grown larger: from the first quarter of 2007 through the last quarter of 2009, according Josh Barro of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, the average value of hourly compensation (wages plus benefits) rose by 9.8 percent for employees of state and local governments, compared with 6.9 percent in the private sector (Shakedown by Steven Malanga, Page 17 - http://bit.ly/faA654
The cost of the protests in Wisconsin can be measured monetarily and ideologically. At the forefront is the actual cost that was required to police the protesting and ensure everyone involved stayed safe and unharmed. While $3 million (http://bit.ly/hUMlyc) is nothing to blink at, the movement that has begun to follow the protests may prove to be even costlier. Wisconsin is in a state of stagnation due to the ongoing protests. The shape of discussion about what should happen in Wisconsin on a daily basis is no longer relevant and every question begins to be looked at as how it relates to the Scott Walker and the Budget Repair Bill. Other issues, important issues are being ignored while the focus on Unions and Collective Bargaining hold up everything else.
With recall elections ramping up in the state of Wisconsin, citizens of the state are being asked to make a very brief decision on how they feel about Scott Walker’s legislation and the Republican State Senators who voted for it.
However, in that short time since the budget bill was passed into law, Wisconsin has seen a number of positive signs. School districts throughout Wisconsin have begun reporting the amount of money that Governor Walker’s budget has saved them. One of the first districts to report was the Kaukauna School District where the school was facing a projected $400,000 shortfall. They now project a $1.5 million surplus thanks to Governor Walker’s Bill. What’s more is that these changes will allow the school to bring on additional staff and reduce class size.
Per the Kaukauna District’s press release:
“These impacts will allow the District to hire additional teachers, reduce projected class sizes from 26 students to 23 students at the elementary level, 28 students to 26 students at the intermediate/middle level, and 31 students to 25 students at the high school level. In addition time will be available for staff to identify and support students needing individual assistance through individual and small group experiences.” http://bit.ly/naeBU3
Here’s a look at some of the interesting stories concerning Public Sector Unions and Fair Compensation during the week of 12/5/2011:
- It was another busy week in Wisconsin where stories started coming out about Kenosha teacher, Kristi LaCroix, being harassed because she came out in support of new legislation in Wisconsin and appeared in a television commercial voicing her opinion.
- The New York Times ran an interesting piece in which they come to the conclusion that public sector employees are retiring sooner than they previously had.
- In response to the New York Times piece, Daniel DiSalvo posted a blog over at Public Sector Inc., calling into question some of the findings in the article.
- We’re starting to see social media and the internet play a large role in the campaigns for and against a recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
- Finally the USA Today took a look at how lucrative pension packages, once only offered to police and firefighters, are now being offered to thousands of more state employees.
By The Education Action Group
Over the past year, a lot of people have been talking about “the 1%” versus “the 99%.” But if you’re concerned about one class exploiting another for economic gain, that’s the wrong way to look at the problem.
As Wisconsin voters head to the polls for Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election, they and citizens across the country will confront an enduring myth that has fueled public spending and debt from coast to coast: Government workers, Americans have been led to believe, sacrifice for the public good, earning less money than if they quit their posts and entered the vastly more lucrative private sector.
While this meme may have held water at some point, it does not now.
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s 53–46 percent victory over Milwaukee’s Democratic mayor, Tom Barrett, in Tuesday’s recall election is the Proposition 13 of the 21st century. In 1978, California’s famous property-tax-cut referendum ignited the supply-side tax-relief movement. Similarly, Walker’s win will encourage elected officials to demand that taxpayer-funded government employees earn realistic wages and pay their fair share for benefits. Likewise, Walker’s triumph should stiffen politicians’ spines so that they insist that government-union bosses live by the same rules as the rest of us.
Seconds after Scott Walker was projected to survive his recall effort, narratives were churned out, providing quick and easy explanations for the events that transpired.
On MSNBC we were told that this election was simply a local issue and that it would have no bearing on the upcoming Presidential election. On Fox News, Walker’s win was heralded as a huge victory in the fight for fair compensation: A huge blow to unions was dealt and a new era of fiscal responsibility would be ushered in. Unfortunately these narratives take up lives of their own, and prevent understanding this complex issue.
So where is the truth? Unfortunately it’s not as easy as saying the answer lies in the middle.