I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.
Chairman Issa and Distinguished Committee Members, I appreciate this opportunity to testify before you today and look forward to our discussion regarding the budget challenges faced by states across this nation, Wisconsin’s current state budget deficit and our committed approach to putting our state back on the path to prosperity.
In nearly every state across
Many Governors, Democrat and Republican alike, are cutting state aid to schools and other local governments - which forces massive layoffs, massive property tax increases or both.
While our idea may be a bold political move it is a very modest request of our employees. We are reforming the collective bargaining system so our state and local governments can ask employees to contribute 5.8 percent for pension and 12.6 percent for health insurance premiums. These reforms will help them balance their budgets. In total, our collective bargaining reforms save local governments more than $700 million each year.
Most workers outside of government would love our proposal. For example, my brother David works as a banquet manager and as a part-time bartender. His wife works at a local department store. They have two beautiful children. They are a typical middle class family.
He told me that he pays about $800 a month for his health insurance and the little he can set aside in his 401(k). Like many other workers in our state, he would love a deal like the one I offered government workers.
Over the past several months, I have visited numerous factories and small businesses across
Even federal employees pay more than twice what we are asking state and local government workers to pay and most of them don’t have collective bargaining for wages or benefits. These facts beg the question as to why the protesters are in
Beyond helping to balance current and future budgets, our reforms will also make our government work better.
In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in
Ms. Sampson received 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 more than $101,000 per year for each teacher; a contract which protects a 0% contribution for health insurance premiums; and a contract that forces schools to staff based on seniority and union rules.
Our budget reforms allow school districts to assign staff based on merit and performance. That keeps great teachers like Ms. Sampson in the classroom.
And it works at the state level too. In 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels reformed collective bargaining in
Since January 3rd, we passed some of the most aggressive economic development legislation in the country. And on nearly every measure, many Democrats joined with all of the Republicans and an Independent to vote in favor of the various pieces of legislation. The
But sometimes, bi-partisanship is not so good. During several of the past budgets, members of both political parties raided segregated funds, used questionable accounting principles and deferred tough decisions. This, along with the use of billions of dollars worth of one-time federal stimulus money for the budget two years ago, left
Our reforms allow us to take a new and better approach. Instead of avoiding the hard decisions and searching for short-term solutions, we make a commitment to the future. The choices we are making now in
These changes do more than just balance the budget; they give small businesses the confidence they need to grow and invest in our state. Investors want stability and our budget provides long-term fiscal certainty for our state and local governments.
We live in the greatest nation on earth. For more than 200 years we’ve had leaders who cared more about their children and grandchildren than themselves – leaders who have demonstrated the courage to make decisions in the best interest of the next generation – and not just the next election. This is truly a concept that
My hope is that our actions in Wisconsin will remind the rest of the nation what makes our country great, but more importantly my sincere hope is that by reforming our state budget for the long haul we will be sending a strong signal to job creators from around the world that Wisconsin is Open for Business.