During testimony on Capitol Hill, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told the panel that sometimes, bipartisanship is not so good. This was in response to his measures to effectively bust unions in Wisconsin. While the union bill is now working its way through the court system, Walker is proud of his accomplishment.
As reported earlier, the bill has been a subject of three lawsuits and complaints. The most recent news on the bill is a member of the Walker Administration, Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, asked the state Supreme Court to remove the restraining order on the bill. They also asked a three-judge panel to deal with the issue. That panel sent the case to the higher state court.
Scott Walker was invited by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to testify about state debt. Rep. Darell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the committee, wanted the governor to tell everyone about how he had to make tough choices for the good of Wisconsin.
In his testimony today, Scott Walker said he tried to work with unions as a Milwaukee County Executive but could not reach an agreement. He also said shoddy accounting practices and raiding of funds contributed to the debt. Although the governor was invited to tell of his specialness, he was met with some detractors.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin was also invited to testify. He gave Scott Walker a bottle of maple syrup and said, Â“You can get more with maple sugar than with vinegar.Â” He went on to say that all governors have to balance their budgets, and they do it without causing a firestorm.
Shumlin said, "You can get this job done, you can balance your budget, you can create jobs in your state without taking on the basic right of collective bargaining. If you want to go after collective bargaining... just come out and say it."
Scott Walker told the committee his bill would save local governments more than $700 million each year. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) asked how much money his bill saved by busting unions, and the governor had to admit that it does not save any money. Furthermore, his bill will save, according to Walker, $330 million over three years, not the $700 million previously asserted.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate for the District of Columbia asked Walker if he had met with union reps since the bill passed, and he said no. Norton then went on to suggest that the governor learn a little civility. She said she disagrees with Issa most of the time but, Â“I have always felt that this was somebody I could talk with and we could have a civil conversation.Â” She finished by saying if she were in his shoes, she Â“would want to take the high road.Â”
It is a good thing for Walker to hear some other opinions besides those of his cronies in Wisconsin. The governor said he tried to work with unions in Milwaukee but to no avail. He is not reporting the entire story. When he was Milwaukee County Executive, he recommended for public workers who served on security be replaced with a non-union group ran by Wackenhut.
The entire board of county executive voted down his plan because they were happy with their current service. Walker ran an end-around and used a loophole that allowed him to declare a fiscal emergency and hire Wackenhut. The old guards were out of job and the new guards made $5 an hour less. A court reversed his decision and said his emergency proclamation fell short of an emergency.
The county had to rehire 21 guards and provide back pay. Then-County Executive Walker said his move would save $153,000 annually. The issue was no longer his concern because he had already been elected governor. But the county will not save $153,000 but will in fact pay $433,000. This doesnÂ’t include the $95,000 a month the county will pay for the private security until the contract is up. Perhaps the governor should try bipartisanship before rejecting it.
Elections have consequences.
(Photo Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)