Friday, February 18, 2011

a man on a mission

the two most remarkable things about that stuff that is happening in wisconsin are:

(1) the fact that governor walker created the budget shortfall that he is now claiming forces him to resort to these austerity measures. before governor walker came into office earlier this year, wisconsin had a budget surplus. then the governor pushed through tax cuts as well as $140 million in spending on his own pet projects. this isn't an "emergency" that forces him to take emergency measures in a time of serious financial difficulties. this is a problem that the governor himself created and is now using as an excuse to retaliate against his political opponents, the labor unions that campaigned against him in the recent election.

(2) some of governor walker's proposed changes in collective bargaining rights won't save money. in fact, the idea that unions would no longer be allowed to negotiate multi-year contracts (each contract instead would be only one year long) will probably end up costing the state more. the proposal would mean that the state would have to engage in costly and time consuming negotiations every single year, instead of allowing it to enter into multi-year contracts. also the proposal that unions would have to recertify every year would also means costly disruptions in the state's operations as employees are preoccupied with annual election campaigns. of course, both of those proposals will also cost unions more money too. but i think that's the point.

governor walker seems to be completely crazy for him to throw his state into a crisis over this. walker claims that he is trying to save the state from a fiscal crisis, but he brought the fiscal crisis onto the state. a much easier way to resolve it would be to repeal his own initiatives and return the state budget to a surplus. instead, he's proposing actions that may make the state's finances even worse. it's crazy, that is, unless he doesn't actually care about the financial situation of the state and really just wants to bust public unions even if it means destroying gutting the state budget in the process.

UPDATE: add a bit more budget-busting the walker's plan: via atrios, if the governor wins madison will probably lose $45 million in federal matching funds. the city could avoid the loss of funds, but only if it dramatically cut back its services, which would mean a lot of madisonians can't get to work, causing further economic pain to the city.