If the protestors in Wisconsin really thought Walker would back down, I guess we have our answer: no. Today the House passed the bill the Senate passed last night dealing with collective bargaining. In today’s WSJ, Walker had a fortuitous op-ed wherein he laid out his case why collective bargaining perverts incentives and costs taxpayers:
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.
Was it a political mistake to separate the collective bargaining parts of the bill from the budgetary parts? Mickey Kaus says Walker wins as the Democrats could have returned to salvage a victory of sorts. They stayed away, and the Republicans moved forward. On that point, in the long run, we shall see if what Walker and the Republicans did was electorally beneficial for them.
Jennifer Rubin at WaPo, though, summed it up nicely:
It is very likely more Republican governors will attempt similar changes in their relationships with public-employee unions. Liberals are certain this will all backfire and/or that Walker and some Republican lawmakers will be recalled. We’ll see. But here’s the thing: If Walker balances the budget, doesn’t raise taxes and lures employers to his state, does anyone think the voters will revolt? Success breeds popularity. Walker will need to show results, but for now he’s shown spine. And that is a model for Republicans across the country.