Governor Walker of Wisconsin just finished his much anticipated news conference. Here is a look at his conservative policies:
He is asking for cuts all across the state government and he is insisting that the teacher’s take their percentage of the pain. Here is his request:
Teachers must pay:
12.8% health insurance
The collective bargaining agreement that the governor seeks to set aside makes it impossible for local governments to review and adjust salaries. With the average collective bargaining agreement taking 15 months, there is no way these adjustments could be made in a timely manner.
Asked about the President’s weighing in on the Wisconsin’s conservative policies and union unrest in Wisconsin the Governor politely and tersely suggested that our President has his hands full balancing the federal budget, and that the President could better spend his time working on those issues.
Finally when asked about the Democrat Senators that left the state the governor said Democracy cannot work when people won’t come to work and debate their differences. He called on the Senators to come to work like all the other state employees did today.
My conservative politics tell me that this is a fair proposal. It is always difficult because with a union contract, negotiations were entered in good faith on both sides, and agreements were made. But out here in the real world lots of folks have lost their pensions and jobs and benefits as factories closed and moved out of the country all across the south. What is the fair thing to do when politicians make promises the taxpayers cannot afford? Is there a middle ground?
The average pay for a Wisconsin teacher from their own website is 20th in the USA so they are not underpaid in some agregious way. Starting pay is $25,222 and the average pay without counting benefits is $46,390. They received a pay raise last year of 4.7% and 21.5% salary increase over 10 years. Many of us have seen our salaries decrease by 10% or more over the same time period, adjusted for inflation, yet we support these rates for others in state government.
Ultimately it comes down to the issue of fairness. we need fairness to those who negotiated in good faith, but we also must see the world as it is. In these days of reduced revenue, we must reduce expenses. For too long, we have spent more than we have taken in in taxes, and we are all in for some pain to make things better. The sooner we realize this unpleasent truth, the more quickly we can begin to recover. let’s all take our medicine and try to get thhis economy moving again. Deficit spending didn’t get it done. Maybe careful and conservative policies will!