Scott Walker: Wisconsins TRUE Progressive

Via Charles Lane in the Washington Post:

Of course, collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently contrary to majority rule. It transfers basic public-policy decisions — namely, the pay and working conditions that taxpayers will offer those who work for them — out of the public square and behind closed doors. Progressive Wisconsin has a robust “open meetings” law covering a wide range of government gatherings except — you guessed it — collective bargaining with municipal or state employees. So much for transparency.

Even worse, to the extent that unions bankroll the campaigns of the officials with whom they will be negotiating — and they often do — they sit on both sides of the table.

Progressives believe, correctly, that government can and should provide such public goods and services as education, parks, or aid for the poor and disabled. It’s axiomatic that the public is entitled to the highest quality at the best possible price. Yet unions, by their nature, increase the price of public services, without necessarily increasing quality. Just ask New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the “rubber room” where, until a couple of years ago, hundreds of union teachers languished, on full pay, while awaiting disciplinary hearings.

Which brings us to equality. To be sure, public-sector pay and perks hardly put union workers in the 1 percent. But their clout enables them to enjoy retirement and health-care benefits that are often better than those available to the middle-class citizens whose tax dollars support them. What’s fair about that? Even after Walker’s bill, Wisconsin public employees pay just 5.8 percent of their salary toward their pensions and a modest 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums.

This principal was also in Governor Walkers speech at CPAC. Here’s an excerpt:

So let me be clear, Collective bargaining isn’t a right, it is an expensive entitlement. Once and for all, we are giving the taxpayers a voice in this debate. We put the power back in the hands of the people.

We are the ones looking out for the middle class. Who do think pays for the endless expansion of government? Its middle class taxpayers.

Our reforms protect middle class taxpayers.

After a half decade of property taxes going up $220 million on average each year, our reforms lead to the school property tax levy going down by $47 million.

The previous administration’s policies lead to a $3 billion tax increase, we passed a budget that lowered the overall tax burden in Wisconsin.

The other thing that drives the Madison liberals wild is that we made our government work better too. I believe that smaller government is better government. But I also believe that in the areas where government does play a legitimate role, we should demand that it is done better.

For years, there has been a false choice between raising taxes or cutting core services. Few, if any, adopt that mindset in the private sector. If you own a business, you certainly don’t look to double the price of your product or your customers will run to your competitor. Similarly, you don’t cut the quality of your product in half or you will see those same customers quickly lose faith in your product as well. Instead, people outside of government routinely find ways to make things work better.

We applied those same principles to putting government back on the side of the people.

We proved that our kids can have access to a great education AND we can protect taxpayers at the same time. Let me give you an example: for years, school districts in Wisconsin had to purchase their health insurance from just one provider, who was affiliated with the teachers union. Now, because of our reforms, school districts can bid out their health insurance and it’s saving these school districts tens of millions of dollars. That’s money that can go directly into the classroom.

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