Walker gives 24-hour deadline to fleebaggers
posted at 1:36 pm on February 28, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
If the Wisconsin state Senators who fled the state intended on highlighting their opposition to Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill, then the governor offered his congratulations on their success. In his statement this morning, though, Walker also told the fleebaggers that any further delay would cost the state $165 million in a lost opportunity to restructure the state’s debt — and that continued delay will force Walker to cut jobs to save money:
“According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, if Senate Democrats refuse to return to Wisconsin and cast their vote the next day the option to refinance a portion of the state’s debt will be off the table,” the statement says.
In addition, Cullen Werwie, the governor’s spokesman, said in a statement: “Senate Democrats claimed they fled the state to slow down the process so the public had enough time to learn about the budget repair bill. If that was their true intention, they have been successful.
“Now they have one day to return to work before the state loses out on the chance to refinance debt, saving taxpayers $165 million this fiscal year. Failure to return to work and cast their votes will lead to more painful and aggressive spending cuts in the very near future.”
Werwie said he was giving the Democrats 24-hour notice. He added that the governor will delay sending out layoff notices “as long as possible.”
With Walker raising the stakes, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provided its readers with the context of spending on public employees:
But by any measure, as Walker has noted and most state employees acknowledge, the state will continue to provide rich health-insurance benefits compared with the private sector, where nearly 40% of employers don’t offer health benefits at all.
Under Walker’s bill, state employees – including elected state legislators, who receive the same benefits – would pay about $600 more for single coverage, raising their share of that cost to about $1,000 a year. For family coverage, they would pay $1,476 more, raising their share of the cost to about $2,500 a year.
The proposal would increase their share of the premium to 12.4%. But that would still be well below the share paid by employees in the private sector, who by one estimate pay an average of 19% of the cost for single coverage and 29% for family coverage.
It also is less than the 28% of the premium paid on average by federal employees.
The union has accepted these changes in principle, now that Walker has pushed his budget-repair bill with collective-bargaining reform built into it, as Walker promised during the election. The PEUs would rather accept cuts in the near term than the ability to browbeat the state and localities in later negotiations. However, these are the very same financial changes that unions characterized as … well …
“We certainly aren’t the haves, in spite of what he says. I just see this as all political posturing,” said Marty Beil.
Beil is executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union , which represents 22,000 state workers in various departments including corrections, universities, mental health, and social work.
“It’s like the plantation owner talking to the slaves. We’ve moved in Walker’s mentality from public service to public servitude,” Beil explained to FOX 11. When asked “Do you really think comparison to plantation owner and slave is accurate?” Beil replied: “I do. I really do because here he sits as the incoming governor, basically issuing mandates about what he wants to happen. Governors and employers don’t do that especially in the modern era of labor relations. We sit down at a table to talk about things.”
The police reversed course yet again today and finally closed the state capitol building to visitors, ending the protests inside:
The state Department of Administration tightened rules on access to the statehouse Monday morning after deciding the night before not to force out hundreds of demonstrators who were camped out in the rotunda. Some of those protesters from the weekend are still in the building.
Protesters lined up outside the King St. entrance to the Capitol Monday morning, waiting to be let in, while others began to march around the building.
“We are going to let people in in a measured way, but we have to get this building cleaned up,” Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said Monday.
On Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker will deliver his budget address in the state Capitol’s Assembly chambers to a joint session of the Legislature and the Walker administration said Monday that part of the restrictions on public access were in preparation for that.
Walker addresses a joint session of the legislature tomorrow night, in what will surely be showdown moment between himself and the fleebaggers. If they don’t send someone to provide a quorum at that point, Walker will almost certainly announce layoffs and blame them on Democrats who won’t participate as a minority, but instead insist on dictating to the majority. Unfortunately for everyone, there seems to be no way for fleebaggers to save face at this point. Walker is obviously not retreating from his position — and since he has the votes necessary to pass the bill, he doesn’t have to retreat.
Eventually, the absent Senators will have to return or possibly end up forfeiting their seats in the legislature. Walker has until the end of June to pass a budget, and it’s difficult to see how the fleebaggers can justify their continued obstinacy, or how they can justify returning after the layoffs and higher debt payments have already occurred. They’d do less damage to themselves now by returning today and declaring a public-relations victory.