Today is the day that Wisconsin voters finally get to go to the polls and put an end to the seemingly endless debate about whether Scott Walker is an angel or a devil. Today’s Chicago Sun Times posted a story about today’s election. The story reminds us that the original issue that caused the recall of Governor Walker— reform of public employee unions–hasn’t been talked about much during the campaign. There is a reason for that–the reforms have been highly successful. One of the things that Governor Walker changed was the health insurance for teachers in the state. Previously teachers’ health insurance and retirement were handled exclusively by the the WEA Trust, a creation of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), As reported in rightwinggranny.com in February 2011, the WEA Trust has come under investigation for tax violations and unreported political donations. Governor Walker moved the teachers to the same health insurance program that covers other state employees.
The article at the Sun Times reports:
Public service employees are finally making reasonable contributions to their pension and health benefits. Government employee unions no longer dictate work rules. Local school districts and governments with new latitude to renegotiate contracts have saved Wisconsin taxpayers $1 billion, according to the governor’s office.
The article concludes:
Walker never trailed in the polls but some surveys showed a tightening of the race in the final days. The voters have the final say Tuesday. They will decide whether Wisconsin will lead the nation in rescuing taxpayers from grasping government employee unions and the self-serving politicians who have appeased them by caving to their demands or return to policies that risk bankruptcy for government budgets, endangering vital government services and leaving taxpayers with the staggering bill.
What Governor Walker has done in Wisconsin is needed in almost all states. Unfunded liabilities in state budgets caused by unfunded public pensions are bankrupting the states. In some cases, towns and cities are spending more money on pensions for police and firefighters than they are for active police and firefighters. I don’t have a problem with pensions for police and firefighters, but money for those pensions needs to be set aside during the time those people are working–it should not be an unfunded liability.
Wisconsin will be an interesting bellwether.