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Common sense rules the day in Wisconsin?

In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she got a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Why would one of the best new teachers in the state be one of the first let go? Because her collective-bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority.

Ms. Sampson got a layoff notice because the union leadership would not accept reasonable changes to their contract. Instead, they hid behind a collective-bargaining agreement that costs the taxpayers $101,091 per year for each teacher, protects a 0% contribution for health-insurance premiums, and forces schools to hire and fire based on seniority and union rules.

My state's budget-repair bill, which passed the Assembly on Feb. 25 and awaits a vote in the Senate, reforms this union-controlled hiring and firing process by allowing school districts to assign staff based on merit and performance. That keeps great teachers like Ms. Sampson in the classroom.

Most states in the country are facing a major budget deficit. Many are cutting billions of dollars of aid to schools and local governments. These cuts lead to massive layoffs or increases in property taxes—or both.

In Wisconsin, we have a better approach to tackling our $3.6 billion deficit. We are reforming the way government works, as well as balancing our budget. Our reform plan gives state and local governments the tools to balance the budget through reasonable benefit contributions. In total, our budget-repair bill saves local governments almost $1.5 billion, outweighing the reductions in state aid in our budget.
While it might be a bold political move, the changes are modest. We ask government workers to make a 5.8% contribution to their pensions and a 12.6% contribution to their health-insurance premium, both of which are well below what other workers pay for benefits. Our plan calls for Wisconsin state workers to contribute half of what federal employees pay for their health-insurance premiums. (It's also worth noting that most federal workers don't have collective bargaining for wages and benefits.

The unions say they are ready to accept concessions, yet their actions speak louder than words. Over the past three weeks, local unions across the state have pursued contracts without new pension or health-insurance contributions. Their rhetoric does not match their record on this issue.
Local governments can't pass budgets on a hope and a prayer. Beyond balancing budgets, our reforms give schools—as well as state and local governments—the tools to reward productive workers and improve their operations. Most crucially, our reforms confront the barriers of collective bargaining that currently block innovation and reform.

When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed collective bargaining in Indiana six years ago, it helped government become more efficient and responsive. The average pay for Indiana state employees has actually increased, and high-performing employees are rewarded with pay increases or bonuses when they do something exceptional.
Passing our budget-repair bill will help put similar reforms into place in Wisconsin. This will be good for the Badger State's hard-working taxpayers. It will also be good for state and local government employees who overwhelmingly want to do their jobs well.

In Wisconsin, we can avoid the massive teacher layoffs that schools are facing across America. Our budget-repair bill is a commitment to the future so our children won't face even more dire consequences than we face today, and teachers like Ms. Sampson are rewarded—not laid off.

Taking on the status quo is no easy task. Each day, there are protesters in and around our state Capitol. They have every right to be heard. But their voices cannot drown out the voices of the countless taxpayers who want us to balance our budgets and, more importantly, to make government work for each of them.

Answer Question
 
Carpy

Asked by Carpy at 11:52 AM on Mar. 10, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 39 (114,053 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • Over the past three weeks, local unions across the state have pursued contracts without new pension or health-insurance contributions. Their rhetoric does not match their record on this issue.


    This is one of the things that anger me most about this. We agree but lets not do it. This was even noted in the mayor of Madison asking for a delay before it was signed into law (this was before the Dems fled) but it shows where some minds were in the matter.
    Charis76

    Answer by Charis76 at 12:02 PM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • Well, we wouldn't want a 50 year old teacher let go who wasn't performing. That would be wrong.

    *deep, deep, deep eye roll* *big sarcastic irritated voice*
    lovinangels

    Answer by lovinangels at 12:42 PM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • Nope. Locking elected officials out of the capitol doesn't have anything to do with common sense.
    UpSheRises

    Answer by UpSheRises at 3:03 PM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • WHO was locked out?? The ones that RAN AWAY!? Wth does turning tail and running have to do with doing your damn Job and while we are at it WHY is that when DEMS get into office its a "mandate" and people need to "get over it" but when Repubs sweep the offices its NOT what the people want and dems should run away?
    momof030404

    Answer by momof030404 at 3:08 PM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • The doors were only locked to clean the building or to keep the rioting idiots out. They were not locking Democrats out per se
    itsmesteph11

    Answer by itsmesteph11 at 3:51 PM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • Where do these protesters work? Who is paying their bills? How can they be there day after day raising such a ruckus? Are they all from WI, doubt it? There is no way I could camp out anywhere for 2 weeks and keep my job. I know some switched out, but many came and stayed. How? And, now they are continuing to protest after the fact.
    jesse123456

    Answer by jesse123456 at 4:57 PM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • It isn't common sense and it hasn't ended the issue . It will now move on to the courts and campaigning to recall some state senators who supported the bill . It has become a national issue, not just a State one and has been widely reported in the international press.
    janet116

    Answer by janet116 at 7:08 PM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • They should recall some senators.......the dems who fled instead of staying and taking a vote. Those are the ones to recall. Organizing for America seems to be fueling this 'recall' mania of republicans for staying and doing the hard work that had to be done. 


    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/10/wisconsin-republicans-claim-obama-advisers-recall-campaign/

    jesse123456

    Answer by jesse123456 at 7:50 PM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • You all do realize that when Senority doesn't count and there are budget/cost problems, the more highly paid worker is usually the one to go.
    meriana

    Answer by meriana at 11:40 AM on Mar. 11, 2011

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