Cuts are needed, ending discussion is not
February 16, 2011
Filed under Opinion
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These are tough times.
This has almost become a cliché by now, but it doesn’t make it any less true. In some way or another, we will all feel some type of burn from the current economic conditions and many already have and will continue to do so.
The burden should be placed on all of our shoulders, and ultimately, we need to make this a team effort as much as we can.
Wisconsin is facing a $137 million shortfall by June of 2011 — obviously, something needs to be done.
Adding to this, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities predicts that we will have a shortfall of $1.8 billion in 2012, which amounts to 12.8 percent of the 2011 budget.
The Associated Press predicted a smaller shortfall at $1.2 billion, but a shortfall nonetheless.
Gov. Scott Walker has suggested changes in his new budget with one troubling aspect: The end of collective bargaining of everything except salary for most public unions in the state.
I’m bothered by his proposal. It seems rather abrupt, albeit somewhat unsurprising to me at least. This doesn’t make it any less awful to me though that he wants to do-away with labor laws that have been in place for decades.
The budget also proposes selling off old power plants and having state employees pay into their health care and pensions, which will raise about 30 million dollars, according to the budget report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; but I will refer you to the front page with more detailed information and reaction to the budgets.
From an idealogical standpoint, I dislike a lot of his plans, but my primary issue is with destroying collective bargaining.
It’s a very drastic action and a very strong statement that he won’t be dealing with unions. He doesn’t want the discussion to take place anymore.
The decision to not give the opposition a chance to speak is very unfortunate. It is also very one-sided since the opposition will have no voice. They will have a major disadvantage when trying to get what they want. This makes the disputes extremely uneven.
He clearly doesn’t believe that unions have much place or are important in the public sector. It seems like he is gutting public unions and acting like there is nothing else he could possibly do.
We need discussion in this country and this kills the conversation. This country is about all sides getting their vote and having their say. Granted, that did happen last November when Walker was elected Governor. This is another annoyance; Walker is effectively crushing the American discourse which is what elections display.
Now, I’m not going to suggest something outrageous like “he’s destroying the constitution” or layer on other such hyperbole, because really, he is completely within his rights. I just believe that to represent everybody, you need to listen to everybody not just those that elected you.
I know that you cannot always afford to be idealistic and it is occasionally unreasonable to do so, but the ability to discuss things and argue your position is too important of an ideal to put away.
I don’t think that members of unions are so unreasonable that Walker has to take them out at the knees. They recognize that some cuts will need to be made so give them a chance to give their say.
We all need to shoulder this budget burden, and Republican lawmakers have said as much, but by ending collective bargaining, unions take the greatest blow.