Why aren’t Wisconsin Democrats running against Walker’s PEU reforms?

posted at 3:21 pm on May 4, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats and Big Labor — pardon the redundancy, but it matters in this story — teamed up to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and a handful of Republican state senators over the public-employee union reforms passed by Walker and the state legislature.  One would then expect that the recall election would feature a debate over the PEU reforms and their outcomes on Wisconsin … right?  Wrong, as the Wall Street Journal reports — because the outcomes are relentlessly positive:

Since last summer, unions have been throwing millions at defeating the man who reformed collective bargaining for government workers and required union members to pay 5.8% of their paychecks toward pensions and 12.6% of their health insurance premiums, modest contributions compared to the average in private business. As the May 8 Democratic recall primary nears to determine who will run against Mr. Walker on June 5, this should be their rhetorical moment ne plus ultra.

So, let’s see. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the front-runner, has focused his campaigns on jobs, education, the environment and “making communities safer.” One of Mr. Barrett’s ads singles out “Walker’s War on Women,” with nary a mention of collective bargaining. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk is heavily supported by union groups, but even her issues list makes only passing reference to collective bargaining.

No wonder. Since Mr. Walker’s reforms went into effect, the doom and gloom scenarios have failed to materialize. Property taxes in the state were down 0.4% in 2011, the first decline since 1998. According to Chief Executive magazine, Wisconsin moved up four more places this year to number 20 in an annual CEO survey of the best states to do business, after jumping 17 spots last year.

The Governor’s office has estimated that altogether the reforms have saved Badger State taxpayers more than $1 billion, including $65 million in changes in health-care plans, and some $543 million in local savings documented by media reports. According to the Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute, Mayor Barrett’s city of Milwaukee saved $19 million on health-care costs as a direct result of Mr. Walker’s reforms. Awkward turtle.

So now the recall election will be fought on mundane political issues like jobs, education, and the environment?  Why, pray tell, did Wisconsin need a recall election to revisit these long-term issues?  If Wisconsin voters want two-year terms for their chief executive, they could amend their state constitution to provide for that.  That way, they could budget properly for two-year terms and plan for all of the costs of the elections.

And don’t kid yourselves — those costs are considerable:

Recall elections are costing you more: fox11online.com

And to afford this unusual and rare show of democracy at the polls, taxpayers around the state will be paying the bill starting next week with the Democratic and Republican recall primary election.

“Approximately $8 million, a little more than $8 million and that’s the cost for each recall election at the local level,” said Reid Magney, spokesman for the state’s Government Accountability Board in Madison.

That’s $8 million for the primary recall election and another $8 million for the general recall election. In all $16 million for both statewide elections in which local municipalities pay their share.

In Green Bay the total cost could climb to $80,000, according to Mayor Jim Schmitt. Money he says could be put to better use.

“Well there’s a lot of things, it’s a tight budget so $70,000 to $80,000 is significant,” said Schmitt. “You look at anything from improvements to infrastructure, to adding more things to police, fire.”

In fact $80,000 for Green Bay, or Appleton or any other city, could nearly pay for three new police squad cars currently in the Green Bay budget for $28,000 each.

Voters in Wisconsin have a clear choice in the upcoming elections. They can vote for the man who saved them $1 billion while cutting taxes, or for the party that cost them $16 million for no good reason whatsoever, and which isn’t even running on the issue for which they demanded this ad hoc election.

Update: Barrett and Falk may have a lot more to explain about increased costs, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

But Barrett and aldermen have relied on user fees to bear more costs that otherwise would be covered by property taxes. While the levy rose 25% in eight years, revenue from the four major municipal service fees jumped 132%, for combined tax and fee growth of 43%.

That was an average combined increase of 4.6% a year, or nearly twice the average inflation rate of 2.5% during that period. Taxes and fees decreased only in 2011 – a budget introduced during Barrett’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign – and increased less than inflation this year.

City budget chief Mark Nicolini has said the tax and fee increases were needed to preserve city services and reduce infrastructure maintenance backlogs in the face of state aid cuts and rising costs for energy and employee benefits. In 2010, stock market losses forced a $49 million city contribution to the city pension fund. Since then, Barrett and aldermen have set aside cash to deal with projected future pension costs.

For her part, Falk set a goal of increasing the tax levy by no more than population growth plus inflation. She fell short of that goal four times.

In 2004, the levy rose 4.8%, more than a percentage point higher than the limit she had set. In 2008, the levy growth was less than one-tenth of a percentage point above her limit – 3.36% instead of 3.3%.

The most significant increase was in 2010, when the levy went up 7.9% at a time when her limit would have allowed just a 1.2% rise. In 2011, the levy went up 3.4%, more than double the 1.5% called for in her growth formula.

Overall, the levy grew 80.5% an average of 4.3% a year, during Falk’s tenure.

Vote for the man who balanced budgets while lowering taxes, or one of the two Democrats who hiked fees while increasing spending.  That’s not exactly a tough choice.


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Just…BECAUSE!

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 3:24 PM

They are the UNION!

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Taxpayer’s are drones to them!

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Because they worked.

catmman on May 4, 2012 at 3:25 PM

They want your money!

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Sooner or later,everyone reaches their Tipping Point.

FlaMurph on May 4, 2012 at 3:32 PM

“This is what democracy looks like”…UP TWINKLES!!!!
/

Strike Hornet on May 4, 2012 at 3:32 PM

I wonder if Falk and Barrett are also Native Americans???…

…maybe part of the Potowatami tribe???…

PatriotRider on May 4, 2012 at 3:33 PM

“COUNT IT!” (I mean all those recall ballots)…

/crr6

Khun Joe on May 4, 2012 at 3:34 PM

I thought everything was supposed to be free!?!!

Fallon on May 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

This ought to be good. My hunch is the folks in WI are going to expose a whole lot of things to the light dems never wanted turned on.

DanMan on May 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Vote for the man who balanced budgets while lowering taxes, or one of the two Democrats who hiked fees while increasing spending. That’s not exactly a tough choice.

And yet Democrats still manage to somehow win elections. Some wins are even legitimate!

search4truth on May 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I can’t repeat it enough.

Being a Marxist piece of garbage leaves one ashamed of their very being. Of course these two particular pieces of Marxist garbage are ashamed to just run on what they believe in. Like…duh!

MNHawk on May 4, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Wasn’t there a poll here recently that showed Walker only up a point? How depressing if this is even close….

jjjdad on May 4, 2012 at 3:42 PM

required union members to pay 5.8% of their paychecks toward pensions and 12.6% of their health insurance premiums, modest contributions compared to the average in private business.

I pay 10% of my gross pay for retirement. And 15% of my health insurance premium. And I work at a public university. These folks get no sympathy. Oh, and I’m an “at will” employee too.

rbj on May 4, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Should be fun explaining to the citizenry that when Walker is out of office the Unions will get back to the gravy train and the public goes back to the economic death spiral.

pat on May 4, 2012 at 3:47 PM

This ought to be good. My hunch is the folks in WI are going to expose a whole lot of things to the light dems never wanted turned on.

DanMan on May 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

.
Dittos + + +

listens2glenn on May 4, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Sure hope the WI recallees are mentioning at every campaign stop and in every campaign ad how much ca$h these union thugs are costing WI taxpayers to run these ridiculous recall elections. Make the nothing-but-divisive unions responsible for every penny they’re forcing the taxpayers to spend for their big fatuous hissy fits.

stukinIL4now on May 4, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Democrats don’t run on records because their records are so dismal, and the records of their opponents generally positive. Julia is their only hope, a fictional composite of Utopia.

antipc on May 4, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Vote for the man who balanced budgets while lowering taxes, or one of the two Democrats who hiked fees while increasing spending. That’s not exactly a tough choice.

One would think that this would be a no-brainer, but they’ve got democrats to deal with.

Mirimichi on May 4, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Just a friendly reminder from Minnesota. you could have a mark dayton running your state. We will trade you even up or if you really want to be so stupid not to re elect Walker, we will give you ellison, klobuchar and franken on top of dayton. Wake up Wisconsin…..Walker, Walker, Walker

crosshugger on May 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Typical bait and switch tactic. If they do win, they’ll be all over it as a mandate. So the repubs have got to remind the voters.

Red Creek on May 4, 2012 at 4:24 PM

What are the chances that with an imminent defeat looming, the progressive left, meaning the Democrat Party, the public/private labor union coalition, and the various #occupywisconsin types will become so desperate that they begin to act like the Islamist factions in Iraq and Afghanistan when a popular election is approaching. By that I mean resorting to naked intimidation tactics, threats of and actual violence and destruction of property and so forth.

Oh, wait. They already did that, didn’t they?

Brian1972 on May 4, 2012 at 4:24 PM

How much is this Union/Democrat Temper Tantrum going to cost?
On top of the costs for the Madison Occupation?

What do they think, we’re made of money?

But then again… they’re Democrats!

CiLH1 on May 4, 2012 at 4:25 PM

I pay 10% of my gross pay for retirement. And 15% of my health insurance premium. And I work at a public university. These folks get no sympathy. Oh, and I’m an “at will” employee too.

Does that 10% include what you “pay into” social security? Just kidding.

It sounds like you got a good deal, working public sector evidently has its perks.

I am employed by, what I consider, a great company (Fortune 500).I pay 7% of earnings into my 401k (that’s how much is matched by the company. $.05 match on the dollar), also do 8% to Stock and IRA for a total of 15%. We currently pay 36% of our healthcare. I thought I had a really good benefits package, I guess maybe its just good for the private sector.

weaselyone on May 4, 2012 at 4:45 PM

this is the last gasp of union thugs in Wisconsin; maybe they’ll give up their citizenship and move North across the border after losing the recall and spending the last of their forced dues

burserker on May 4, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Democrats don’t run on records because their records are so dismal, and the records of their opponents generally positive. Julia is their only hope, a fictional composite of Utopia.

antipc on May 4, 2012 at 3:56 PM

…how come no one is banging her?

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Vote for the man who balanced budgets while lowering taxes, or one of the two Democrats who hiked fees while increasing spending. That’s not exactly a tough choice.

We’ll see…

ladyingray on May 4, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Democrats don’t run on records because their records are so dismal

antipc on May 4, 2012 at 3:56 PM

I think you summarized it.

teejk on May 4, 2012 at 5:46 PM

The only way to combat this union thuggery is for GOP politicians to make the argument that while private sector unions have a legitimate right to exist, public unions are the biggest scam to ever be foisted on the American taxpayers.

Walker has taken steps to help his state budget by taking some power away from the public unions, yet he’s afraid to come out and say that things would be that much better if there were no public unions at all. If he were to take such a stand, he’d need to hire a 24 hour bodyguard for the rest of his life, but at least he’d be making a better argument and providing voters with a clear choice.

Instead, he goes through the motions of saying that he’s not against public unions, they’re just “out of control”. So it’s up to the voters to figure things out on their own.

ardenenoch on May 4, 2012 at 6:00 PM

so let’s get back to the point…MONTHS ago the anti-Walker posse said they could not beat him on the CB issue alone…if you happen to live here, you would see:

1) the $2.3 bil given to corporations and wealthy individuals…which after trying to figure out where the number came from I see turns out to be a 10 year “projection” of the tax cost of certain programs trying to bring jobs here to which I’ll add will only come true if the jobs come true.

2) job losses…forget that most were in the public sector as people resigned postions (take my ball and go home)…stupid but public sector people have never been known for smarts otherwise they would not be public sector people.

3) job losses…the environment has improved (tort reform, tax incentives, a balanced budget with no tricks involved)…so no jobs? Wisconsin is currently a mine-field from a business perspective…blame Walker if you want but I blame the people that laid the mines.

teejk on May 4, 2012 at 6:03 PM

I really don’t understand the concept of a recall election. Maybe someone can help me out here. If you disagree with something a politician has done (and it appears Walker did just what he promised he would do)you can just have another election? Why wouldn’t you wait until the next regularly scheduled election? It’s not like these politicians facing recall did anything illegal, immoral or corrupt. Is this a Wisconsin thing?

hopeful on May 4, 2012 at 6:30 PM

…how come no one is banging her?

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 5:26 PM

She hasn’t been to an OWS Caligula encampment.

antipc on May 4, 2012 at 6:55 PM

The people have a choice,Packers or the Browns.

docflash on May 4, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Proof the dems are ot for the little guy like they claim.
he balanced the budget, cut taxes, AND saved jobs the union was trying to throw away.
As punishment they want to recall him. Amazing.

Hard Right on May 4, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Is this a Wisconsin thing?

hopeful on May 4, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Several states have it, the main difference is how difficult it is to get enough signatures.

California recalled the idiot-boy Gray Davis a few years back, that’s how Ahhhnald first got in. He was a big improvement, which might give you an idea of just how bad Davis was.

Adjoran on May 4, 2012 at 9:48 PM

Just a friendly reminder from Minnesota. you could have a mark dayton running your state. We will trade you even up or if you really want to be so stupid not to re elect Walker, we will give you ellison, klobuchar and franken on top of dayton. Wake up Wisconsin…..Walker, Walker, Walker

crosshugger on May 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM

If he wins cross over to the wi side. I think he’s going to win, unless they cheat big time.

wi farmgirl on May 4, 2012 at 10:08 PM

I think he’s going to win, unless they cheat big time.

wi farmgirl on May 4, 2012 at 10:08 PM

I hope you’re right, farmgirl. But we’d better keep a very close eye on the polling places. Especially now since they blocked the voter ID law. Just in time for the recall election.

Sterling Holobyte on May 5, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Democrats: punishment for punishment’s sake–it’s a roman thing. Nothing needs to be punished more than a successful conservative…

RedSoxNation on May 5, 2012 at 7:51 AM

Vote for the man who balanced budgets while lowering taxes, or one of the two Democrats who hiked fees while increasing spending. That’s not exactly a tough choice.</blockquote
Want to bet a lot of them still vote for the dem. We are talking lib minded voters here. The union members will have to go back to paying the unions even more and the govt higher taxes. They will still vote for the D.

Kissmygrits on May 5, 2012 at 9:46 AM

teejk on May 4, 2012 at 6:03 PM

There are a lot of businesses that are in a holding pattern right now and some are even looking at other out of state locations just in case Walker gets tossed out.

Want to see what WI will look like if Barret or Falk win? Look at the wonderful city of Milwaukee…. that is WI Detroit.

watertown on May 5, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Elections have consequences. In Wisconsin those consequences are mid-term recalls.

If Wisconsin evicts Walker in favor of barrett (or any other Dem), the name should be changed to East California.

Parabellum on May 6, 2012 at 10:02 AM