What can we say about the interesting events in Wisconsin? The facts are that the Governor and the legislature of that state are looking to force the public union pay more for their benefits they receive. This amounts to, as the WSJ wrote:
Mr. Walker’s very modest proposal would take away the ability of most government employees to collectively bargain for benefits. They could still bargain for higher wages, but future wage increases would be capped at the federal Consumer Price Index, unless otherwise specified by a voter referendum. The bill would also require union members to contribute 5.8% of salary toward their pensions and chip in 12.6% of the cost of their health insurance premiums.
If those numbers don’t sound outrageous, you probably work in the private economy. The comparable nationwide employee health-care contribution is 20% for private industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average employee contribution from take-home pay for retirement was 7.5% in 2009, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute.
It is a fact that state budgets are not in great shape because of the economic downturn, and the diminished cash grants from the Federal Government coming to an end. With benefits included, public workers make a sizable sum of money. The unfunded liabilities are one of the biggest sources of state deficits–including medical benefits. What is a state to do?
The impending scaling back of the power of the union made Democrat members of the legislature to choose to leave the state to stave off a quorum so no votes could be taken on the matter–one they willlikely lose if the vote is taken. The union members applauded this act, as did the Democrat party in the state. But one wonders if this is really a legislative check? To impede democracy is not really a check on executive power. It is historically inaccurate as well for the executive has a history of proroguing the legislature (that is preventing a vote) in order to control it. Preventing legislative votes is a monarchical tactic. It is certainly not whiggish.