Posts Tagged: Scott Walker

Scott Walker’s high-speed blunder

When Scott Walker used a balanced budget bill to strip the collective bargaining rights of public employees, it was defensible if you believed — as the Wisconsin governor did — that unionized public employees had destroyed Wisconsin’s finances. Walker’s rejection last November of U.S. Dept. of Transportation money for a high-speed train between Milwaukee and Madison, however, cannot be defended. Not after the governor pushed — and the state legislature will soon approve — an upgrade of the Chicago-to-Milwaukee “Hiawatha” rail line.

As Jason Stein and Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel make clear, the $31.6 million upgrade could have been covered by the $810 million offered by the Obama administration to build the Madison-to-Milwaukee line.


The Scott Walker of Chicago?

Alex Keefe of WBEZ-Chicago Public Radio reports that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will lay off 625 city workers, “after labor leaders blew a Friday deadline to come up with a list of cost-saving measures in order to avoid pink slips.” Emanuel is dealing with a major municipal deficit and has a legitimate beef with some city workers, who are not making reasonable concessions that would save the city some money. However, Emanuel is the “Scott Walker of Chicago” in who the mayor said he would lay off: city water department call operators, city custodians, seasonal street sweepers.

Exempt from the list are police and fire fighters, even though these professions take up 2/3 of the city’s payroll costs. Like Walker, Emanuel seems to think that police and fire fighters are a more noble kind of public employee than, say, custodians.

Give me a break AFSCME Council 31!

Kristen McQueary of the Chicago News Coop reports that AFSCME Council 31, which represents Illinois public employees, has compared Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn to Wisconsin Republican Gov. — and public employee union super-villain — Scott Walker. The reason? Quinn will do a one-time block of a pay raise negotiated between the union and the state.

Breaking a stipulation in a union contract has justifiably angered AFSCME. But this is totally unlike the situation in Wisconsin where Walker used the pretense of a budget deficit to permanently hamstring the collective bargaining rights of public employees. Comparing Quinn to Walker sort of cheapens the truly long-term damage Walker has likely done to the livelihood of Wisconsin public workers.

This day in public employee union concessions

Gov. Scott Walker

Wisconsin’s law to limit the collective bargaining power of public employee unions goes into effect this week. Meanwhile, a coalition of Ohio workers has gathered the signatures needed to put a referendum on the ballot in November that would repeal that state’s anti-public employee union bill. And in Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has threatened to lay off 625 unionized city workers if the Chicago Federation of Labor does not make concessions by midnight Thursday.

In each instance, unionized government employees are a targeted victim of legitimately bad government budget situations. Here a couple of early conclusions we can make about these confrontations with public sector workers: (more…)

Wisconsin’s return to being moderate?

While Wisconsin’s bill knee-capping collective bargaining rights for public employees will become law, GOP Gov. Scott Walker will not get everything he wants from the Republican-controlled legislature in the 2011-2013 budget. Jason Stein, Patrick Marley, and Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report on the state budget that passed the Wisconsin House yesterday. The budget is balanced by state cuts to schools, but pet projects of Walker will not make it through. (more…)

Wisconsin v. Walker

The big news from Wisconsin yesterday was that the state supreme court upheld the law taking away most collective bargaining rights for state public employees who are neither police nor fire fighters. This is obviously a huge, though expected, victory for Gov. Scott Walker and the state Republican party. One thing to note, though, is that Walker’s anti-government employee agenda has recently met resistance among even Republicans in the state legislature. The legislature rejected a plan to significantly roll back the number of state employees who work on behalf of food stamp and Medicaid recipients. The main result of the anti-public employee union bill may be a backlash on other Walker policies as well.

Scott Walker: Affordable Care Act champion

Scott Walker

The political leadership in Illinois says they love the Affordable Care Act, and the political leadership in Wisconsin and other Republican controlled states want the law repealed. Yet Illinois lawmakers punted on starting a state-run health insurance exchange, a central component of the national health care reform law. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has created an entire new state office — funded by an Obama administration “innovator” grant, no less — to establish a health insurance exchange. Walker is one of several prominent Republicans working to implement ACA. (more…)

Scott Walker turned down on privatization

The Wisconsin state legislature did away with two major attempts by Gov. Scott Walker to privatize local administration of federally-funded social services. Jessica Vanegreen of the Madison Capital Times reports that Walker had wanted to use private workers to run Wisconsin’s food stamp program, Food Share, and also to run Medicaid. Walker’s idea was that residents would no longer apply in person for Food Share or Medicaid services, but instead use hotline numbers. The Obama administration threatened to remove federal funding if these proposals got enacted.

But even when Walker loses, he partly wins. The state legislature did agree to consolidate staff at centers that administer food stamp benefits.

Nationwide approach to infrastructure is stalled on the tracks

Ray LaHood

Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood announced this week which states won a total of $2 billion in U.S. Dept. of Transportation grant money for train lines. Larry Sandler of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wisconsin received none of the $150 million it wanted in upgrades to the Amtrak line between Chicago and Milwaukee. The reason Wisconsin didn’t get any money partly lies in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s past opposition to federal transit cash. The bigger issue here, though, is with the Obama administration.

Walker applied for the grant months after he rejected $810 million in federal money to build a rail line between Milwaukee and Madison. (more…)

Scott Walker’s environment-busting plan

Scott Walker

In March, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker successfully passed through the state legislature what was clearly a law to weaken public employee unions — but what the governor persistently sold as a deficit reduction bill. Now Walker is doing the same with initiatives to weaken environmental regulation, which he suggests are efforts to reduce the state budget deficit and spur economic development. Walker’s actions deserve scrutiny not just for how they affect Wisconsin residents. Other freshmen Republican governors and Congressional Republicans working on national budget issues could follow his lead. (more…)