Green Room

It Was a Good Week…..For Everyone……Except…..

posted at 10:13 am on June 9, 2012 by

Last week was a good week for the nation, and for the conservative cause.  Governor Walker re-affirmed his status as putting his state’s fiscal future ahead of the liberal progressive’s status quo agenda, which has become the albatross of public funded union’s refusal to participate in the cost of operating the state‘s burgeoning budgets.

While the powerful unions might be cringing at the prospect of other states following this responsible blueprint, the general public might have the opportunity to see more public unions willing to compromise rather than demonize those who have realized there are few other alternatives to rein in the massive deficits.  (Are you paying attention Jerry Brown?)

The simple facts are, other Governors have already implemented new structures long before Scott Walker.  Mona Charen writes in the National Review about these other “Republican Reformers” who have taken up the fight against the out-of-control unions, (and the cycle of electing Democrats to protect their interest):

The word “corrupt” is not too strong for a system that functioned like this: Unions worked to elect Democrats. Once elected, Democrats passed laws that permitted states to withhold union dues from state-employee paychecks, further enriching and entrenching public-sector unions. State governments then signed contracts with the unions, giving far more generous pay, work rules (like teacher tenure), and benefits than the average taxpayer receives. Unions thus elected the people who sat across the table from them in contract negotiations. As Victor Gotbaum, a New York City union leader, boasted, “We have the ability . . . to elect our own boss.” That mutual back-scratching has burdened taxpayers with pension and other liabilities mounting into the trillions.

Charen goes on to point out the Republican Governors who have chosen to break the cycle of corruption within this system:

On his first day in office, Chris Christie signed an executive order forbidding public-sector unions from making political contributions (corporations were already barred). He then embarked on the grueling, but necessary, battle to require unionized teachers to accept slightly less generous pensions, and to make tiny contributions to their own health insurance.

In New Mexico, Susana Martinez has cut spending by $150 million without raising taxes, reduced the state workforce by 5 percent, eliminated duplicative taxes on small businesses, and increased local control of schools by opting out of No Child Left Behind.

Indiana’s Mitch Daniels ended collective bargaining for public-sector unions early in his tenure. He balanced budgets without raising taxes, earned the state an AAA bond rating for the first time, reduced the number of state workers to the lowest in the nation, improved the business climate, transformed a $700 million deficit into a $1.3 billion surplus, and earned Indiana the Tax Foundation’s “First in the Midwest” award for business climate. Indiana’s government is also more efficient: Child-support collections are up, wait times for child services have been halved, 150 state troopers have been added, and the Healthy Indiana Plan provides health insurance to 50,000 low-income Hoosiers. Among participants, emergency-room use has declined. Perhaps the most emblematic of all Indiana’s accomplishments is that wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles have been reduced to less than eight minutes.

With these “leaders” willing to make the tough choices, (some not even popular on either side of the political spectrum), it was just a matter of time before Scott Walker would also emerge as champion of fiscal discipline, despite the enormous odds against him.  Charen also gives much credit to the Tea Party for “pushing” these new mavericks in the right direction—-(please be sure to read the whole article).

Perhaps President Obama was channeling these events when he said “The private sector is doing fine”?  Good news for the fiscally responsible Republicans?  As Sarah would say, YOU BETCHA!

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How did Mitch Daniels get state employees to be more efficient??

PattyJ on June 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

The public sector unions’ dire position is probably shown best by the fact that even in New York, Andrew Cuomo has made them his poll-number-boosting punching bag, while maintaining the standard liberal positions on social issues and other policies.

Once you get to the point that even ambitious Democrats like Cuomo, who are eying presidential runs in 2016, see opposing SEIU and AFSCME as a winning issue among their own party’s voters, it’s over, even if you have bitter clingers running places like California or Illinois that believe they can still wring a few more tax $$$ out of the public to keep the Democrat-government union scheme going.

jon1979 on June 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

I wish more people understood that if we don’t cut back the scope of government, the greedy-union issue will come back.

It’s very satisfying to see the annoying, shrieking, cop-slapping, thing-throwing union demonstrators trounced at the ballot box.

But the underlying problem of government that does too much hasn’t been fixed. The public-union problem will be back.

J.E. Dyer on June 9, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Thanks for bringing that most excellent Charen column to our attention. I particularly enjoyed this in light of this past week’s events. As part of a long list of Mitch Daniels’ fiscally sound accomplishments we learn…

150 state troopers have been added

~~~

But the underlying problem of government that does too much hasn’t been fixed. The public-union problem will be back.
J.E. Dyer on June 9, 2012 at 11:33 AM

We do need teachers, firemen and policemen. We don’t need them to be paid outrageous salaries & benefits squandered from taxpayers while bankrupting the states. And we certainly don’t need the federal government to fund their hiring just for the sake of a phony “stimulus”. At the same time we do not need an ever expanding federal workforce with similarly lavish benefits.

Buy Danish on June 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

How did Mitch Daniels get state employees to be more efficient??

PattyJ on June 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

He likes to be able to fire people.

AesopFan on June 10, 2012 at 5:56 PM

We do need teachers, firemen and policemen. We don’t need them to be paid outrageous salaries & benefits squandered from taxpayers while bankrupting the states. And we certainly don’t need the federal government to fund their hiring just for the sake of a phony “stimulus”. At the same time we do not need an ever expanding federal workforce with similarly lavish benefits.

Buy Danish on June 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

If you think that’s the only thing your state is paying for, I’d love to know where you live.

The growth of state government is considerably more than teachers, police, and firemen. When you see thousands of SEIU protesters in their purple T-shirts, those aren’t teachers, firemen, or policement you’re seeing. They are service workers in the vast reaches of state bureaucracy, which includes dozens of things you probably don’t even know the state is doing.

We don’t need gigantic state bureaucracies to perch on top of our medical industry. But we have them, they are very large, and their principal effect is to make everything in the industry cost more.

We don’t need state agencies dedicated to making us ride bikes, live in smaller houses, and cut our utility use. But we have them, they employ thousands of people across the country, and they have office support staff.

Departments of transportation employing people to tell us we need high-speed trains in places where they make no economic sense?

State agencies full of people paid to find ways to deny natural resources to the citizens?

Arts councils finding things to pay for that private donors shied away from?

Humongous state-university bureaucracies replete with activists and retired-on-active-duty office staff?

Welfare bureaucracies dedicated to enlarging their client base?

There is a dangerous tendency to focus on the pensions of the biggest state-worker contingents, like teachers and law enforcement, but those pensions are the result of a dysfunctional attitude toward government, and that attitude is the thing that must be broken.

Teachers not only shouldn’t be able to write their own ticket salary-and-benefits-wise — they shouldn’t, as a political bloc, have control of what is taught, and how, in the public schools. Teaching should not be a method of political indoctrination. It should reflect what the parents and voters want taught.

Likewise, it has been very rare for the voters in any state to demand that state bureacracies grow and engage in an exploding list of regulatory activities. State governments do that on the “progressive” principle that the people’s desires must be frustrated, in order that the prescriptions of partisan advocates may prevail.

Wisconsin has made a good first step toward resetting the relationship of the state government to the people. But more is needed. Bloated state-worker pensions and union power are symptoms of a dysfunctional view of government, and the dysfunctional view is the disease. Lifting the increasingly grotesque burden of regulation is actually more important than cutting retirement benefits for the police. Indeed, I don’t even foresee a need to cut benefits for police and firemen, if the state’s economies are unleashed to perform as they once did.

Teachers aren’t wildly overpaid, but educational administrators are, and there are far too many of them. I hope that the marginal Wisconsin reforms will produce a synergistic effect on the dysfunctional view of government embedded in the “autonomous state-agency idea,” but I’m sure Wisconsin Democrats are already on the hunt for other ways to write state worker and agency privileges in stone. We have a ways to go.

J.E. Dyer on June 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM