Heritage and Reason deflate myths in PEU debate
posted at 2:15 pm on February 25, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Are public-school teachers underpaid? Is the Battle of Mad Town really not about money? Heritage Foundation and Reason TV take a look at both claims coming from the protests in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as a more fundamental myth that only Republicans are talking about cutting budgets and reducing the power of PEUs. Nick Gillespie focuses attention on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a staunch Democrat who is also telling constituents hard truths about the unsustainable levels of public spending in his state and the need for reform. Don’t expect this impulse to remain localized to Wisconsin, New Jersey, and New York, either — not with massive state budget shortfalls across the US:
Given the circumstances, perhaps a compromise can be worked out. Let’s allow the teachers to retain their collective bargaining rights intact — as long as Wisconsin taxpayers have the ability to opt out of the education monopoly entirely through fully-funded school vouchers. If the public schools deliver a quality education under the current union-run paradigm, with tenure protecting poor performers, then the teachers will have nothing to fear. If parents believe that they can get a better education for less money at private schools where the customers control the process and the prices, then taxpayers will have the ability to vote with their feet.
When the unions offer that as a compromise, then perhaps Governor Walker might amend his approach. However, Republicans in the state Senate have blocked any more changes to the current proposal in the absence of their fleebagging colleagues:
State Senate Republicans gave preliminary approval Friday of a budget-repair bill that eliminates most collective bargaining for public unions, but they were unable to send the bill to Gov. Scott Walker because of a weeklong boycott of the session by Democrats.
The vote came just hours after the representatives in the sleep-starved Assembly approved the bill. Their debate lasted 61 hours and was the longest in living memory.
On a voice vote, the Senate put the bill in a state where it can no longer be amended. Twenty senators must be present to pass the bill, but Republicans have just 19 seats.
There had been some suggestion that one or more Republicans in the upper chamber were willing to offer a few changes, such as a sunset clause on the collective-bargaining reforms. That opportunity expired, however, as state Senate Democrats continue their refusal to return to work, demanding that the bill be tabled and that Walker negotiate with unions instead on the budget.