Below you will find links to several articles that illustrate the GOP power grab taking place in the State of Wisconsin. Follow the links to read further.
Wisconsin’s Tea Party Takeover
Wisconsin is at the cutting edge of that transformation. Under its Tea Party-favoured new Republican governor, Scott Walker, and with a state legislature that recently flipped from blue to red (that is, from Democratic control to Republican), it is pushing a rightwing agenda that is shocking to American progressives. First up is an astonishing attack on unions. As part of spending cuts ostensibly aimed at digging Wisconsin out of a budgetary mess, Walker wants to brutally strip-mine state workers’ benefits and pensions. He has also launched a full-frontal attack on the collective bargaining rights of 175,000 state and local employees, allowing workers instead to negotiate only over salary. It is a shocking attempt at union-busting that has caused outrage – and scores of demonstrations across the state.
Calling Out The National Guard? GOP Governors Begin Their Coordinated Assault On State Union Workers
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Friday that he was willing to mobilize the state’s National Guard force in order to address the potential repercussions of his stated proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state employees.
Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond wherever is necessary in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from state employees. Walker said Friday that he hasn’t called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems that could result in a disruption of state services, like staffing at prisons. On Thursday, Walker told the Associated Press that he will propose removing nearly all public employee collective bargaining rights to help plug a $3.6 billion budget hole.
100K Turn Out In Madison For Largest Rally Since Vietnam War
From PoliticusUSA, a reminder that the massive media corporations just aren’t all that interested in covering anything that might give people (or politicians) ideas. After all, they’d rather pay out money in dividends than in salaries and benefits, right? Over 100,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin were joined by thousands of other Americans around the country in protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from the state’s unionized workers, but you would not have known any of this if you watched cable news on Saturday as the coverage of the protests ranged from disappointing (MSNBC) to scant (CNN) to non-existent (Fox News).
Walker proposes to increase number of appointed employees in state government
The proposals call for converting 37 top agency attorneys, communications officials and legislative liaisons from civil service positions to appointed positions. Currently, agency heads can appoint 70 such positions in departments controlled by the governor, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis of the bill. David Vergeront, retired chief legal counsel for the Office of State Employment Relations, said the changes would give the Republican governor greater authority to hire, fire and move key employees to carry out his agenda.
Walker gins up ‘crisis’ to reward cronies
But Gov. Scott Walker is not making tough choices. He is making political choices, and they are designed not to balance budgets but to improve his political position and that of his party.
It is for this reason that the governor claims Wisconsin is in such deep financial trouble that Wisconsinites should view this as a crisis moment.
In fact, like just about every other state in the country, Wisconsin is managing in a weak economy. The difference is that Wisconsin is managing better — or at least it had been managing better until Walker took over. Despite shortfalls in revenue following the economic downturn that hit its peak with the Bush-era stock market collapse, the state has balanced budgets, maintained basic services and high-quality schools, and kept employment and business development steadier than the rest of the country. It has managed so well, in fact, that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently released a memo detailing how the state will end the 2009-2011 budget biennium with a budget surplus.
In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.
Wisconsin Firefighters: We’ll Give Up Pay to Save Collective Bargaining (Video)
“Us as firefighters, we have been exempted from this bill…There’s a 5.8 percent pay into the pension, there’s a 12.4 percent pay into the health care premium benefits…For the betterment of the government, for the betterment of the state, we don’t mind helping to pay for that. We don’t want to price ourselves out of a job. Ever. What we want to do is have a fair and equitable treatment among our members.”
The Brothers Koch and the Battle of Wisconsin
According to Wisconsin’s Capital Times reporter, Judith Davidoff, Koch Industries has opened a lobbying office that’s just a toilet-paper roll’s throw from the state capital in Madison. (If you didn’t get the reference, Koch’s Georgia-Pacific runs several paper manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin.)
Koch’s lobbying arm (Koch Companies Public Sector) actually set the ball rolling two days after newly-elected Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker was inaugurated. But, the controversial billionaire Koch brothers (Charles and David) are no newcomers to this (tea)party. Koch was the single largest corporate contributor to Walker’s campaign — and even that contribution was chump-change compared to the aid given Walker by Kochs’ PAC and their “grassroots” organization, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), according to a recent article in Mother Jones magazine.
The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
BREAKING: Gov. Scott Walker Punked By Blogger Posing As David Koch–UPDATED
– Walker doesn’t bat an eye when Koch describes the opposition as “Democrat bastards.”
– Walker reveals that he and other Republicans are looking at whether they can charge an “ethics code violation if not an outright felony” if unions are paying for food or lodging for any of the Dem state senators.
– Walker says he’s sending out notices next week to some five or six thousand state workers letting them know that they are “at risk” of layoffs.
– “Beautiful, beautiful,” the Koch impersonator replies. “You gotta crush that union.”
Listen to Part 1 of the conversation HERE
Listen to Part 2 of the conversation HERE
Top Six Revelations in the Call Between Fake David Koch and Governor Scott Walker
Teabaggers In Madison: Corporations Shouldn’t Have To Pay Taxes
Gov. Scott Walker (R) has argued that his proposal to strip public employees of virtually all of their collective bargaining rights is necessary in order to deal with the state’s tough economic situation.
“I’m just trying to balance my budget,” Walker told The New York Times. “To those who say why didn’t I negotiate on this? I don’t have anything to negotiate with. We don’t have anything to give. Like practically every other state in the country, we’re broke. And it’s time to pay up.”
But there is a source of revenue the state isn’t tapping that could likely be far more lucrative.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, two-thirds of corporations in the state pay no taxes, and the share of corporate tax revenue funding the state government has fallen by half since 1981.
Democrats flee state to avoid vote on budget bill
Democrats and union leaders said their concerns were focused on losing decades-old bargaining rights, not the financial concessions. In a telephone interview from an undisclosed location, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) said he was upholding the rights of workers by allowing for more debate on the bill.
“This is a watershed moment unlike any that we have experienced in our political lifetimes,” Miller said. “The people have shown that the government has gone too far. . . . We are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that this bill gets the consideration it needs.”
Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) said the decision on when to return had not been made yet. Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) said Democrats were prepared to stay away “as long as it takes.”
Coggs said senators from the two parties had been in touch in an effort to try to resolve differences.
The political drama played out amid a massive demonstration of union members that clogged the hallways of the Capitol and made the rotunda ring with chanted slogans as loud as the revving of a motorcycle engine.
For the third straight day, thousands demonstrated inside and outside the Capitol. With drums pounding in the background, the crowd blocked the main entrance to the Senate by sitting down in front of it, though police kept a side entrance open. Demonstrators were expected to stay in the building overnight.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s move to limit collective bargaining rights has led to “riots” at the Capitol — “It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison these days.”
“It’s not asking a lot,” said Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and one of the stars of the new GOP House majority. “It’s still about half of what private sector pensions do and health care packages do.”
He added, referring to Walker, “So he’s basically saying ‘I want you public workers to pay half of what our private sector counterparts’ and he’s getting riots — it’s like Cairo has moved to Madison these days.”
Madison police estimated the Feb. 18, 2011 crowds outside the Capitol at 30,000, while Capitol Police said there were 5,000 inside the building, according to the state Department of Administration.
To be sure, emotions are strong and the stakes high. But that does not sound like much of a riot.
We also talked to Paul Soglin, the former Madison mayor who led — and was beaten — during antiwar protests in the 1960s and ‘70s. Soglin, who has been part of countless other marches and protests, said he was amazed at the crowds.
Soglin used terms like “joy and enthusiasm” to describe the energy of the crowds and compared them to the civil rights protests in the 1960.
Asked about Ryan’s characterization of the events as riots, Soglin said: “It’s astounding that he would say that. It’s so spectacularly wrong.”
A $930 Million Misunderstanding Over Walker’s Budget Repair Bill
But Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald says that the Budget Repair Bill’s health insurance and pension provisions do not apply to teachers employed by local school districts. “The 5.8 [percent contribution for pensions] and the 12 [percent contribution for health insurance premiums] is on the state employees, not county employees, not school employees at the local level, not on municipal employees,” Fitzgerald told me during an interview Wednesday evening. “It’s only on correctional officers, DNR,” he continued, “state employees, so anybody who falls into that category, which are obviously many of the AFSCME employees, and the SEIU.”
Just to be clear, I asked Fitzgerald to confirm that the $300 million saved by the Budget Repair Bill doesn’t count changes to teachers’ benefits.
“Right,” he replied.
“If that’s true, why is this the first time I’ve heard it?” one school district’s union representative told me last night. “That’s not our understanding at all,” Paul Hambleton, executive director of Wisconsin’s West Central Education Association, told me this morning.
WI Senate Majority Leader Lets The Cat Out Of The Bag: Defunding Unions Meant To Hurt Obama’s Reelection
In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly moments ago, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), one of Walker’s closest allies in the legislature, confirmed the true political motive of Walker’s anti-union push. Fitzgerald explained that “this battle” is about eliminating unions so that “the money is not there” for the labor movement. Specifically, he said that the destruction of unions will make it “much more difficult” for President Obama to win reelection in Wisconsin:
FITZGERALD: Well if they flip the state senate, which is obviously their goal with eight recalls going on right now, they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin GOP Senators Poised to Ram Through Collective Bargaining Measure
In a surprise move late Wednesday, Senate Republicans voted to move forward with the governor’s controversial budget repair bill, sending the measure into a conference committee scheduled for later in the day.
Republican leaders would only say the Senate bill differed from the Assembly bill and indicated it was possible lawmakers could strip fiscal elements from the proposal and pass only the measures dealing with collective bargaining.
Such a move would allow Republicans to pass the governor’s bill without the 20 Senate members needed to vote on fiscal matters. Currently 14 Democratic senators remain in Illinois, hiding out in an effort to deny the quorum and stall the vote.
If the Republicans move forward with their plans, it would be a major reversal for Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. Both have contended that the bill is fiscal in nature and thus the collective bargaining could not be stripped from the measure.
Democratic Senators on Wednesday immediately criticized the move, saying it proves Republican attempts to end collective bargaining for public employees are not about balancing the budget.
“They have been saying all along that this is a fiscal item, we’ve been saying it is not,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, from Illinois. “They have been lying. Their goal is to bust up the unions.”
WI GOP Sen. Randy Hopper’s Wife Tells Protesters Hopper Living with 25-year-old mistress in Madison
[P]rotesters outside the Hopper house this week in Fond du Lac were met by his wife who reportedly came out and told them: Hopper no longer lives there, but with his 25-year-old mistress in Madison. […]
Two sources in Fond du Lac close to the recall effort say the Hopper maid has signed the legal-sized recall sheet. The maid reportedly said it’s likely Hopper’s soon-to-be-ex wife will also sign the recall petition.
Close to 300,000 Rally Against Scott Walker’s Plan to Bust Up WI. Farmer’s Bring Tractorcade to The Capitol and WI Welcomes Back the WI 14
Since Monday, February 14, tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents have been flooding the State Capitol in Madison in protest of Governor Walker’s proposed budget “repair” bill that would end 50 years of collective bargaining for Wisconsin workers. CMD reporters are out providing live coverage of these historic events.
Judge Issues Temporary Halt to Collective Bargaining Bill
A Dane County judge Friday ordered a temporary halt to Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial measure to curb collective bargaining for public employees, saying a legislative committee likely violated the state Open Meetings Law when it rushed passage of the bill earlier this month.
“This was something that would and did catch the public unaware,” Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, saying the joint Assembly-Senate conference committee’s action March 9 amounted to a “closed session of a body … propelling legislation forward.”
Sumi’s ruling bars Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law, the last step before it can take effect. La Follette had planned to publish the law on March 25, which would cause it to take effect the following day.