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Cheat Sheet: What’s Really Going On With Wisconsin’s Budget

Is there really a budget crisis in Wisconsin? What are the other issues? Here’s our quick breakdown of the basics.

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Protesters react to an appearance by Gov. Scott Walker at a news conference inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, Feb. 21, 2011, in Madison. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

A standoff is brewing in Madison, Wis., over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to cut union rights for state workers. Walker says the cuts are necessary to bridge the state’s growing budget gap, while throngs of protesters have gathered to oppose the cuts and state legislators have fled to avoid a vote. Here’s our quick breakdown of the basics.

What Does Gov. Walker Want?

Two weeks ago, Walker introduced the controversial “budget repair bill” – an “emergency measure” he said was needed to bridge Wisconsin’s $137 million deficit.

Walker claimed the bill, which would require state employees to increase their pension and health insurance contributions, will save the state about $30 million for the current fiscal year.

But the governor’s proposal has drawn the ire of critics for two major reasons:

1. They say some of the bill’s provisions, like those that would repeal state workers’ collective bargaining rights, are merely a partisan attack that would do nothing to close the state’s budget gap; and

2. They say Walker created the deficit to begin with.

Is There Really a Budget Crisis?

Yes, it seems so.

Walker claims the state is facing a $137 million shortfall, but in the middle of his budget repair bill’s storm, critics have accused him of manufacturing that deficit in the first place, citing a government report that predicted Wisconsin could have ended the 2010-11 fiscal year with a surplus.

Opponents of Walker’s proposal have been quick to blame the deficit on a series of tax break measures he pushed through earlier this year. But while those tax cuts will cost the state nearly $140 million next year, the Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan state agency that provides budgetary and economic data to the Wisconsin legislature, said the state will actually have a modest surplus this year.

So, how does the Fiscal Bureau predict a surplus, while the governor’s math yields a multi-million dollar deficit?

The difference in calculus hangs on two expenses that are, currently, still in legislative limbo: One is a $58.7 million debt Wisconsin owes to Minnesota for income tax it collected from Wisconsin residents who worked in Minnesota; the other is a series of expected shortfalls totaling almost $199.4 million that the governor is including.

That includes an expected $174.2 million to fund the state’s medical assistance program, $3.5 million for the public defender’s office and $21.7 million for the state’s department of corrections.

Robert Lang, the Fiscal Bureau’s director, said those expenses – which total $258.1 million, plus the Minnesota debt’s daily $4,584 interest – were not factored into the Bureau’s estimate because addressing those costs still requires action by the legislature or the governor.

And meanwhile, the state is awaiting a court decision to determine when it must pay back an additional $200 million it owes to a patient compensation fund from a four-year-old case.

Walker’s deficit figure, then, might not be so “ginned up” after all; it just assumes Wisconsin will pay Minnesota back and fund those cash-strapped programs within the next four months.

But doesn’t this go beyond budget numbers?

It does.

The governor’s proposal to increase employees’ pension and health insurance contributions will supposedly save the state $30 million this year, but some critics charge this is about more than just fiscal matters. The governor’s office said repealing the collective bargaining rights will give state and local governments “the tools to manage spending reduction.” But critics – like the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll – suggest that public employees are simply the scapegoat in a political ploy to “defund” the Democratic Party.

The bill will put other constraints on unions’ powers. For example, employees will be able to opt-out of paying union dues.

Some state employees – particularly police, fire fighters, and state troopers, who endorsed Walker’s gubernatorial campaign – are exempt from the proposal. Last week, thousands of teachers and other affected state workers took to the state capitol to protest the governor’s plan.

Wisconsin is not alone, and in the last week, labor activists have begun organizing protests in other states – including Ohio and Indiana – that are likewise fighting over union rights. Democratic legislators in Wisconsin and Indiana have even fled the state to deny Republicans the quorum they need to force a vote, further escalating a debate that some, like the Wall Street Journal, say might even have an impact on next year’s elections:

Republican and Democratic leaders and strategists appear to be relishing the broadening fight over labor unions, feeling it is energizing their core supporters and clarifying key differences between the two parties.

Democrats claim the fight has injected fresh energy into the ranks of labor unions, which are a major supplier of campaign money and volunteers for Democratic candidates. Republicans say the showdowns show they are the ones willing to make tough decisions to cut government spending and take on entrenched powers.

The various clashes over union benefits and clout hold implications for the 2012 elections as they spread to Indiana, Ohio and other presidential swing states.

It is misleading to write that Walker exempted unions who supported him. In his words: “that actually is not true. There are 314 fire and police unions in the state. Four of them endorsed me. All the rest endorsed my opponent.”

In both funding and attempted grassroots presentation, the campaign against public employees’ collective bargaining is similar to the national campaign for “tort reform” a few election cycles ago.

I agree with Steve. I read in many other media outlets that only small number of unions supported him (“approximately 11,000 members versus Milwaukee’s roughly 1,400” one source—http://bit.ly/i25lY0).  I really like ProPublica and to state something inaccurate like this is very misleading.

ProPublica—thanks for giving Wisconsin the attention it deserves.

Please examine the rest of the proposed Budget Repair Bill.  The section pertaining to public utility contracts is equally troubling for Wisconsinites. 

SECTION 44. 16.896 of the statutes is created to read:
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling,
and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the

department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may

contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without

solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best

interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or

certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to

purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is

considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification

of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

The article says “The bill will put other constraints on unions’ powers, for example, employees will be able to opt-out of paying union dues.”

My understanding is that the union dues would no longer have to be deducted from their paychecks but rather the union would have to collect them in some other way. 

It does make a difference.  I would appreciate an update about this point.

Good article but doesn’t go far enough to expose the Governor for exactly what he is and what he has been instructed to do.

Governor Walker, is but a shill that was elected by money infusion from the Koch brothers in an attempt to shut down the last of the unions in Wisconsin and to set a precedent nationwide. (The AFL-CIO, the Autowokers and the teamsters are all gone, those jobs went to China)

This play by Walker is reminecent of the way in which the Arab governments now being overthrown,  were put together 3 and 4 decades ago.

Notice Walker has not made the Police, Firefighters, or WI State Troopers inclusive in his union busting attempt,  so that when riots break out he can hopefully control the populus with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Walker’s appearance and ability to lead is sub-par on any political level and the Republican selected him obviously because he has no future win, lose, or draw.  Win, get koses the next election, lose and he doesn’t get to the next election, draw and he’ll become a FOX news commentator

The Fat Boy from NJ will be the next idiot on line if Walker succeeds, if he doesn’t the Republicans will next feed Jan Brewer to the wolves

Notice that these selected shills are defective in one way or another. Walker is so slow he hasn’t figured out how he’s being used, Christy can’t control what goes into or comes out of his mouth, an Brewer couldn’t teach Kindergarten with any worthwhile results.

Paul Z has it right. This has nothing to do with worker rights or costs and EVERYTHING to do with privatizing state-owned assets. Because, don’cha know, private industry can give campaign contributions and public entities can’t. We may have a corrupt governor, but not a stupid one.

Jack Lohman
http://MoneyedPoliticians.net

This really does seem to be a case of “first they came for ...” fascism.

Thanks for addressing the story, but you ought to re-release it with the Power Plant no-bid fire sale included in the text. This is a major factor. Not to mention how much will people see their electric bills rise after Walker sells out to the Koch brothers. And you just know they be busting those unions too.

Also, I think there are some relevant links and facts here
http://thepoliticalenvironment.blogspot.com/2010/10/tracking-walkers-tax-cut-promises.html

that are worthy of consideration in regards to Wisconsin’s projected deficit.

Thank you
Melinda G

Walker says state could save $65 million if teachers brought into health plan which covers other State employees
What is the background to that comment.

I am reminded of a South Dakotan’s remark of many years ago, it went “if you have a union, then you deserved a union.” So to avoid a union, one should treat your employees respectfully and appreciate their work on your behalf. Yes, you pay them, but they are not machines. I suspect the Wisconsin Governor will eventually get his way. And what will that do to his workers morale - will they bend over backwards to do sterling work beyond the call of their job descriptions - or will they do the very minimum to just get by to get past the performance review. And with the word out far and wide, will Wisconsin be able to recruit superior people. I am suggesting there will be unexpected consequences that will take many years to heal.

Guy Stalnaker

Feb. 22, 2011, 7:02 p.m.

You admix differing issues without a clear delineation of them.

1. Yes, there is a budget issue. A careful reading of the Fiscal Bureau report shows that. It would be helpful if you pointed out that the author of that report did no one favors be showing a surplus in his table, then in the paragraphs below it detailing issues that might result in a deficit.

2. This is not now nor has it been about wages and benefits. Please note that Wisconsin’s public employess have for TWO YEARS had reduced base pay and some had pay increases, passed by Wisconsin’s legislature, rescinded.  That’s what furloughs are—time off WITHOUT PAY. And even now the people who have been protesting in Madison agree to continue to help. All union representatives have accepted that union members need to contribute more to their health care and pensions and have told the Governor this.

3. Governor Walker is steadfast in his refusal to have anything to do with any form of conversation or negotiation.

So, one is left with an interesting question. If Governor Walker claims that AB/SB11 is necessary for **balancing the budget** (which is what a budget repair bill is for after all) and the FISCAL demands in it are agreed to by the parties it affects, why then is the Governor, and the GOP representatives in the Wisconsin legislature, unwilling to amend AB/SB11 to remove those parts of it that are non-fiscal in nature?

The answer is that AB/SB11 is about MUCH MORE that balancing Wisconsin’s 2009-2011 budget.

You folks need to take a very close look at its provisions and at all of those parts that say nothing about the concrete things necessary to move from a $137 million deficit to a $0 balance.

This is about a lot more than just a budget and union busting.

And THAT’S your real story, not ‘he said, she said.’

Charmian Neary

Feb. 22, 2011, 7:15 p.m.

Congratulations to Pro Publica for your two Polk Awards. This truly neutral reporting is an example of why I expect you’ll win many more.

For those interested, in the same budget where Walker is calling for the end to collective bargaining, beginning on page 23 of the bill:

SECTION 44. 16.896—a clause allowing for the “Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling and power plants.”

Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling,
and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to
purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

To my inexperience eye, this looks a lot like privatization & no bid contracts. Seems that this has been overlooked.

Senate Bill 11:
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/JR1SB-11.pdf

I hope ProPublica will be very careful as it usually is not to lean to the left like so much of the media does.  I have been impressed with its generally evenhandedness on reporting partisan issues.  It is critical to its credibility.

In California, state employees unions yield considerable power.
An example of this acting to the detriment of the people is the strong influence of the prison guards’ union in California.
“Lobbying efforts and campaign contributions by the CCPOA have helped secure passage of numerous legislative bills favorable to union members, including bills that increase prison terms, member pay, and enforce current drug laws.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Correctional_Peace_Officers_Association
“The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S.”
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289

California has the highest cost of any state to house inmates.
People are often jailed for non-violent drug offenses.

Sorry to disagree w/ ProPub on this, but I believe that Gov’t workers unions can be a big part of the problem, just as if we had a union to lobby for welfare recipients, or social security recipients, could skew government policy to be more generous in those forms of handouts.

Bonnie Turnbull

Feb. 22, 2011, 9:17 p.m.

I am always baffled when people say that the media leans left. It appears to me to lean right!

Could it be that we most note those opinions and facts we oppose?

Some questions I have about this situation: What benefits and salaries do Wisconsin state legislators and Governor Walker receive? In the call for shared sacrifice, what exactly has the governor and the state legislators given up to do their part in this budget crisis? What advantage is there to sell off state-owned utilities without a bidding process; would not a bidding process be more lucrative for the state? When the sale of said utilities are made “in the best interest of the public,” what criteria is that determination based upon?

Boris L Matthews

Feb. 22, 2011, 10:11 p.m.

Thanks, ProPublica, for the fullest coverage yet. It is a puzzlement that the Governor will not accept the money he has asked for. So, indeed, what is the back story? Also of interest is the fact that Walked accepted a lot of money in his campaign from the Koch brothers front organization, Americans for Prosperity. (See the August 30, 2010, New Yorker for an extensive story on them, and the New York Times from February 21, 2010.) So even though Walker was in fact elected in Wisconsin, it was big outside money that helped him get there.

As many know, Russ Feingold, our Senator who lost in November, accepted money only from individuals. That tells me something important about Walker and Feingold.

I am persuaded that the back story behind the current Republican / Tea Party frenzy is the old “dismantle government.” Sure, there are lots of hogs at the trough who should go work for a living (McMansions on agricultural land set aside and receiving subsidy, anybody?), and disastrously unfair tax code (what about 15% cap gains tax when lots of folk pay much more and actually work for it?).

If Republicans were serious about something other than wholesale dismantling government, they might take on the tax code and work toward making it fair. Maybe they could even collect enough not to gut services that actually work, like basic research funding, the EPA, CPB, and Head Start. But, silly me, I think that a close election (100 vote majority) does not a mandate make.

Boris Matthews
Syn Prairie, WI

This guy Walker is an extortionist, The latest i heard is that he is treating, that if lawmakers don’t pass the bill up to 1,500 state workers will be laid off by July with another 6,000 forced out of work over the next two years.
This Govertator (dictator) reminds me of Kadaffi from Libya what an A!@#$%^ !

Question: Can this guy be impeached? they should start looking in to it !

Wow is this possible? Wake up America !
Amid the ongoing protests and legislative standoff in Wisconsin, a new automated Rasmussen Reports survey purports to show more Americans backing Republican Gov. Scott Walker than the public employee unions. Additional national survey data is not yet available on this issue,
Unbelievable !

We are in the middle east now !
A website being used to help organize protests against Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin has been blocked from the Capitol Building in Madison, according to reports.

Pen M. Hutchinson

Feb. 22, 2011, 10:39 p.m.

Bonnie:  I agree. The media all sound like corporate shills to me, and not a Cronkite in sight…lol.

I’ll confess that it often seems to me the difference could be mostly tonal.  Maybe I “hear” the right louder than the left..mostly because I’m a woman…who really, really hates mendacity.

What about the lack of taxation on the wealthy, corporations of Wisconsin?  How can you demand the middle class(90% of the population) carry the bulk of the budget burdem without demanding the same of the wealthy(1% of the population).  It’s appalling!  Silent no more.  Our voices (the majority) need to be heard!

Wish I could read minds…if I could, I’d read Walker’s to see if there is somebody he knows/is beholden to sitting out there with a bid prepared to assume the responsibilities of a particularly lucrative-due-to-its-essential-nature Wisconsin government agency or department whose workers happen to be unionized.

That is the real reason the righties want to “drown government in a bathtub”...they don’t want the American people to have to quit paying taxes; rather, they want the American people to pay taxes to them.

Except they won’t be called “taxes”, they’ll be called “profits” - and the American people won’t have a prayer of preventing their constant and unjustifiable escalation at the voting booth.

Everybody:

It’s time to begin learning about compelling Congress to call a convention so We The People can propose amendments by the people and for the people.  An Article V Amendments Convention is needed.  Google “Article V Convention” and get prepared.

“The right to organize unions and to bargain collectively had long [as of 1936] been accepted, for the most part, in England and the United States (and in Germany before Hitler).” (William L. Shirer, “The Collapse of the Third Republic”; 1969, p. 294)

Guy Stainaker’s comment above seems to point to a whole under-reported set of real items Propublica seems to have totally missed, completely missed. I guess I’ll wait for The New Yorker to report more thoroughly, as usual.

In politics it’s best to know what’s going on since whats going on is for real but missed by most until it’s to late to complain.

Tepid try Propublica.

I can sure tell who the state employees are!
State employees are not a special class of privileged workers. They do not possess any special skills that separate them from non state workers.
Why should they be paid special.
YOUR all a bunch of free loaders
I think you’ll find that the party is now winding down.
I’m not impressed with Wisconsin’s educational acheivements—not a lot of bang for the buck.
What else can you say except, “Things are a changing”!!!!

Way to not read the document you cite in your story.  Read it past Table 1 and you will see that there is not any chance of a surplus as the table does not include budget shortfalls totaling over $192 million that don’t appear on the books officially until the fiscal year closes.  For those thanking and lauding this hack job as complete and accurate reporting…shame on you for not reading the very source cited here and reading just two more pages past the shiny, ADD enabling table that the author wasn’t smart enough to read past either.  This article has actually ended up dumbing down friends of mine who used to be smart enough to check their sources thoroughly but apparently for some reason take this as gospel so felt the need to bee too lazy to verify.

Me, I think what the American people are missing is that the situation in Wisconsin?  The economic situation in almost every state that ever had manufacturing?

All artificial…all a creation of the Republican triumvirate of wealth transfer weapons:  “Flood-up/trickle-down” economics, deregulation, and inequitable free trade.  The latter was the true assault on unions, and remains the Republicans’ strongest anti-union weapon.

Until people come to understand that the Republicans - the top 1% who are the only people the Republicans truly represent, that is - have been making war upon the other 99% of the American people, we have nowhere to go but down.

Were more people to attempt search the web for a paper called “The National Bureau of Economics Research Working Paper No. 15408”, they might stumble across a chart on page 80 (to Adobe Reader) of that document and discover that the greed of the few has manipulated the incomes of fully 99% of the American people.  (Curiously, it is easier to get that document from France than here.)

lolll…it is unfortunate for democracy and the future of our children that those who run the Republicans are so very, very good at “Divide, and conquer.”.  We’re a lot closer to a feudal aristocracy - or even fascism, feudalism’s bastard son - than people seem to understand…or want to accept.

Why are we all of a sudden hearing about states’ pension funds being in trouble? Could it have anything to do with the losses the funds took at the Wall Street casino? Most mutual funds lost value. Is this why the state pension funds are in trouble? If so, why are we blaming the employees and the unions? Why are the states not going after the funds managers and the banks that created the crash? That is where the money is.

An interesting group of comments.

If you look at the forest and not the trees, you’ll see that since the late 1960’s the monied interests in America have been scheming ways to make the taxpayer foot the entire bill for everything that happens in this or to this nation. Union Busting, Tort Reform etc, etc, etc.

The problem facing America now is that monied interests have infiltrated and hired on the government’s elected officials.

How did that happen? The media and their control over everything large and small that occurs around us.

When something serious is happeneing that will affect us all, the media directs our attention to a horrible crime in St. Louis or Seatle that actually effects less than a half dozen individuals, or the Super Bowl, or the Royal Wedding.

We now have to look to what has been happeneing in the UK when these same sort of issues went beyond the pale as they are doing here and now.

UK Uncut, a fundemental uprising by “regular” citizens is coming here fast and furiosly.

I believe there will be a long hot summer ahead in America.

The people of WI have been robbed. Under the guise of the “created” budget crisis, the republican state legislature just gave WALKER absolute power to dispose of etc… of the WI energy supplies. this is a betrayal of fiduciary responsibility. But WALKER is in a hurry, the Kochs need access to the energy supplies including power plants and Walker may only have one year to exercise his plan of SEEK OUT and SELL out before he is recalled.  You need to get someone on this right away. The people of WI are about to be ravaged. The union busting is only the tip of the ice berg to the plan for this man and corporate america have for WI. Walker is building his nest egg. He will never have to worry about money again, even if he only serves one year. GOOD JOB TBAGGERS!! You set this plague loose on the state of WI.

How are young people susposto want to vote. When the candidates some party or some groups of wealthy people provide for us. Are they all crooks. Should we demand our paychecks in gold incase wallstreet dosent do so well tomorrow. N my green backs are of no value. And whom regulates the federal reserve. They are free to do as they please. Whlist children are getting sick from all the bs(bullshizz) in our food. But we can’t smoke a flower. Nobody would care if I smoked roses rite ?. Y don’t our polititans get random drug tests. When I can’t make minimum wage if I can’t pass one is nuts n rediculous.

The protesters haven’t “gathered to oppose the cuts”. The central issue is not about balancing the budget at all, but about the attempt to prevent collective bargaining.

That hasn’t stopped a lot of the media repeatedly presenting this as though the protesters are fighting for their financial self-interest. A large proportion of the protesters are absolutely prepared to accept the cuts, but just want the anti-union clauses removed from the bill!

Short Story:
Part 1 -Walker takes power in WI with $125 Mill Surplus
Part 2- Walker Gives tax breaks to Billionaires and corporations in WI for $138 Mill
Part 3- Walker tries to make up the difference on the back of the firefighters, nurse cares, teachers and other union workers of WI
Part 4 Walker wins, gets all the consentions he wanted form the workers of WI
Part 5 Walker said is not enough, he also wants to take the rights of collecting bargain
You be the judge end of story

Instead of pointing fingers and smearing the political parties (because they’re both corrupt), let’s look at the facts: government workers earn more than private sector workers; have more benefits and pay less for them than the average private sector worker; have more long-term job and financial security; and have bigger clout when going to their employers (the taxpayer) for a pay raise every year. The question becomes: what does the average taxpayer want to give the average government worker for the job he’s doing? American to American, what’s the answer here?  The fact is, the average private sector worker, the average American, is on his knees with his financial obligations and sucking wind with his own financial woes. One in ten of us is out of work in this country. Hundreds of thousands of us are homeless - with college degrees. How about if government sector workers find it acceptable to be equated to the average private sector worker? how about if unionized workers match non-unionized workers with a) the same job bargaining power, b) same level of wage for the same jobs, c) the same long-term benefits and/or the same contribution for them?  In short, how about if government workers (tax money receivers) expect no more or less from their jobs than private sector workers (tax money payers)?

Bob Christensen

Feb. 23, 2011, 2:20 p.m.

Conservative politicians and commentators had a field day characterizing President Obamas health care bill as “European style socialism” a claim that was picked up by the Tea Party.  What is happening is NOT “European styled Socialism” but rather Latin American styled oligarchies - rule by the few.  When you consider that the top two percent of income earners in the United States receive in excess of twenty-nine of the total disposable income in the country, up from eighteen percent about twenty years ago, you realize there has been a tremendous shift in disposable income from the bottom ninety-eight percent to the top two percent.  By the way, in 1929, when the great depression occurred, the income distribution was similar to what it is today.  This concentration of wealth will continue to become more evident when one considers that the tax on inherited wealth during the last part of 2010 was allowed to lapse. 
What is occurring in Wisconsin, along with Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, etc., is just another example of attempts by the conservative Republicans to skew the equation more in their favor.
Taking away bargaining rights of unions does nothing to solve the budget issue but it sure does solve the problem of a united opposition to people like the Koch brothers.

J.S. Livacich

Feb. 23, 2011, 2:28 p.m.

This is much like Naomi Klein’s warnings that “Conservative” or “Neo-
Liberal” construction that only a crisis brings change!  To that I would add that the Conservative Republican strategy has been to be given an inch and then take a mile—which is as he is doing.  This is not so much as a unique, as it is an obvious,  observation. But the difference is that is the proportionality to the crisis. 
Eight years ago or so—when the war in Iraq was first proposed—it was noticeable that the combined budgetary shortfall was about the same as the earlier “predictions” for the cost of the war (the combined debts ranged from 42 to about 54 billions—with the lower figure representing cuts),  the last war estimates were 82 billions.  By contrast last year when the Iraq cost more than Afghanistan—the
the crossover in cost came between April 15, and May 16, 2010, 34.2
Billion for that thirty day period alone.  On that date the California debt
was 18 plus Billion, somewhat more than half for that month alone, as the cost of the deployment of a single soldier was deemed to be
one million dollars per soldier per year.  It is time, or past time, to divert the funds for the more immediate needs of the American public and its local governments,  than to maintain spending on a losing series of corruptly mismanaged conflicts.  The Federal government could do this without vastly enlarging its debts.
of wars (this)

Excellent article. Note that the progressive hue & cry - and some bold statements by progressive journalists, news sources and pundit-organizers (groups I am in sympathy with on the whole - that the Governor ‘ginned up’ the deficit appears now to be a dubious assertion.  The math of those who tried to blame the deficit on the Repub Gov seemed wrong in the first place ($100 million+ surplus predicted, he gives 100+ mil in tax cuts, thus a 100+ mil deficit - was questionable on its face – it was a $200 million dollar swing: where the other 100 mil go? perhaps the economy – but this suggests that even that was wrong and they had THE WRONG YEAR?! That sort of sloppiness does no credit – and some damage - to this cause, which is an important one for the future of this nation, IMO). This article suggests many pundits & sources I would like to rely on for accuracy were incorrect - they didn’t check the facts in a fight. (This is one of the reasons I am often initially resistant to claims by left leaning sources in the midst of a crisis, btw it’s not enough to have your heart in the right place if this is your job). We don’t have the media power to be sloppy-wrong - that’s the other side’s privilidge because of their inculcation of their base. We don’t have the luxury to have our major voices caught trumpeting a narrative that they should have known was BS.  I had found some materials saying that the state had 2 sets of books and one gave a different result as to the deficit, but had been argued out of it.

This could also be an attempt to establish “precedent”.

THEN he can go ahead and ban ALL public unions based on “established precedent”.

Is it a violation of FEDERAL law and the US Constitution? Of course. But that never stopped him (or his party) before….

You don’t need to ban them - once they have no collective bargaining rights, they’re just a bunch of people who wear the same t-shirts.

There are a mountain of so called facts, figures, stories, half-truths, half-lies, spin-doctoring and manipulations swirling around through this whole melodrama. It’s horribly difficult for Joe Citizen to suss out what’s real and what’s Memorex, thus consider the whole circus, business as usual. It’s a “who’s on first?” Shakespearean tragedy, and the theatre is SRO. There’s been greed, corruption, overspending, overcompensating, grabbing for more and more, grabbing for less and less, ubber chaotic messages and subterranean political agendas throughout. To paraphrase Eisenhower: “Things are more like they are now than ever before.”

Where’s the clean, authentic intentions to create a life-supporting environment for all? Is it a zero sum game? Where’s the clean talk, clean action, real compassion and authentic dialogue? When do the brainless, heartless games stop and core-human sensitivities and sensibilities begin? People in this country are soooo tired of narcissistic, tribal-centric, us versus them polarizing nonsense. We feel abused by it and don’t know what to do to stop it. No doubt, if we don’t stop kicking each other every time we disagree about which toilet paper is best, we’ll wind up in an even more dire situation; bruised, bloodied, more hateful, and eventually obliterated as a country, culture and society.

Let’s move together folks to solve these issues with integrity and honesty, or reap the consequences of remaining ingloriously miserable; continuing to stew in our own insufferable juices. Are we to remain the cunning and dishonest Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill only to see it roll back again - ad infinitum? Or are we to become someone or something else? Choice not chance determines destiny.

This is one of many battles to be fought.
On one side you have those trying to live off the government and keep what they have.
On the other side you have the people paying for government who have said enough is enough.
I’m betting on the people paying for government. This social experiment has not worked in Europe and isn’t going to work here.
AS an unselfish adult I have learned there is no free lunch.

Terry O'Neill

Feb. 23, 2011, 6:21 p.m.

Public Employee Unions that support Political Officials form a mutual parasitic relationship that benefits both of them at the expense of the tax payers.  There is a basic conflict of interest when public employee unions negotiating contracts with the people they helped put in office. In a nutshell that is the problem. Breaking or maintaining that link is what the fight between Scott Walker and the Public Employee Union is all about.

Fact is, we hard working people do not like paying our own pensions AND the public service workers pensions also. The union leaders are wealthy and you dummies are paying for it. If you are not happy being a policeman or firefighter with steady employment then quit and go job hunting in the private sector.There will be a two block long line waiting for your jobs by people who take pride in their profession. I worked for a newspaper in my hometown and management and the union got together and voted 100 union members out of their jobs - you dont have the security that you think. Your leaders have given Obama tons of your hard earned money to further his dream and he and your union leaders WILL shaft you when they are done using you -WISE UP.

We need to mimic China ! The greatest nation in the world AND our future overlord!

We all know that this “Govertato­r” (dictator) does not answer to the people of WI, he answers only to 2 people, David and Charles Koch his real boses !

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