He is Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
An article in Business Insider listed the Top 6 winners and losers in state budget battles this year. Among the winners are Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Andrew Cuomo of New York, John Kasich of Ohio, Jerry Brown of California and Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania. They all took similar approaches to the financial crises that faced their states- they cut spending and mostly avoided new taxes.
Kasich’s actions have resulted in the improvement of Ohio’s credit rating:
Standard & Poor’sbizWatch Ratings Services upgraded Ohio’s debt rating just one day after it put the United States on “creditwatch negative” on what it calls a rising risk of policy stalemate in the debt limit negotiations.
For Ohio, the rating was revised from “negative” to “stable” after Gov. John Kasich signed a new budget the ratings agency says will essentially balance the state’s finances for the next two years. S&P also said Ohio is experiencing a modest economic recovery which has stabilized revenue.
In making the upgrade, the agency also assigned a “AA+” long-term rating to Ohio’s $416.75 million general obligation bonds.
In his effort, Walker attempted the impossible- he sought to limit state employees’ collective bargaining rights. Walker asked unions to contribute more to their health care and pensions. While putting on the appearance of conciliation, unions were actively undermining the agreement:
For several days, government union bosses have said that government workers would be willing to contribute to their pensions and pay a slightly larger portion of their healthcare premiums. At the same time, local bargaining units have been negotiating for and signing contracts that do not accept the modest contributions proposed by Governor Walker.
In Janesville, government workers are proposing a contract that includes 2 percent pay increases this year and for the next two years. The government would pay all of the workers’ pension contributions and workers would only pay 8 percent toward their health insurance premiums.
In La Crosse County, government workers have agreed to a one-year contract with health and dental premiums at the same level as 2010. The agreement has the county covering the full pension payment of most government workers.
Government workers with the Milwaukee Area Technical College agreed to a new contract where the workers contribute nothing toward their pension. The College’s attorney said the agreement means MATC would leave $7.1 million on the table.
In Madison, government workers have proposed a contract that would allow them to continue to receive their current pension and health benefits for the next two years. Many government workers would receive a 3-percent pay raise.
In Racine, government workers have agreed to a contract that includes pay raises.
In Sheboygan, government workers agreed to a contract where nurses pay nothing toward their pensions.
Realizing that he could not achieve real concessions, Walker then sought to limit state employee collective bargaining. As BI put it:
Despite months of protests, bitter legal battles, a Supreme Court special election recount, and nine campaigns to recall state senators, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appears to have won the battle and the war.
The first-term Republican signed a state spending bill this week that closely mirrors the budget he proposed during the showdown in Madison this spring. The two-year $66 billion budget fulfills Walker’s promise not raise taxes, balancing the budget with a variety of cuts including $800 million from K-12 education, $500 million from Medicaid and $250 million from Wisconsin’s university system.
With Walker’s signing of the bill, Wisconsin’s new collective bargaining law goes into effect. The law — which has sharply divided the state — limits public-sector union negotiating rights and increases state employee pension and healthcare contributions.
Had the unions bargained in good faith and agreed to the concessions, they would not have had their collective bargaining ability abridged.
Since then, other Governors and states have begun to seek limits on collective bargaining. There are efforts ongoing in Ohio, Tennessee and California to limit collective bargaining in order to stabilize finances.
Public sector unions have held states hostage for too long. We are running out of other people’s money. Union members often complain about their lack of raises for the last couple years. They have no idea what it’s like in the real world, where businesses have suffered up to 25% loss in revenue. That’s not just a lack of a raise- it’s a loss of income. Not having a raise looks really good to those of us in business in contrast.
Public sector collective bargaining was once considered ridiculous.
“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government” said George Meany in 1955. FDR thought it was “unthinkable and intolerable” for public sector unions to strike. Public sector unions need to he reined in in order to restore fiscal sanity to the country.
There is a lesson here for the Federal Government from the State Capitols.
And it all started with Scott Walker.