In Wisconsin Recall, Unions Run to Stay in Place

No matter what the outcome of today’s recall election, nothing substantive will change in Wisconsin. Even if organized labor were to sweep all six recall elections of Republican state senators, the unions would still not have the votes in the Assembly to pass any legislation. They will not be able to restore the government union’s lavish benefits, which were brought down to Earth this spring. And even if they were somehow able to muster legislation through both the Senate and the Republican-controlled Assembly, they still will not have enough votes to overturn a veto by Governor Scott Walker.

According to the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a Wisconsin think tank, Big Labor and its allies have funneled over $14 million into the recall effort.

The Washington Post reports that much of the money (on both sides) comes from groups outside of Wisconsin.

Outside groups — led by national unions on the Democratic side and limited government groups such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth on the Republican side — have shoveled more than $25 million into the recall effort, with both sides spending about the same amount. The candidates, meanwhile, have raised more than $5 million.

The staggering dollar amounts being showered on the eight recall campaigns — which after a July 19 election and Tuesday’s six contests will conclude with two elections on Aug. 16 — are shattering state records. In 2010, when the 99-member assembly and half the 33-member state Senate was up for election, outside organizations spent $3.75 million in Wisconsin — 15 percent of this year’s total.

What will all this spending accomplish in the long run? Nada, zip, zero. The best Democrats can hope for is a symbolic win, instilling fear in anyone who opposes them over how much power and money they can bring to muster when they don’t get what they want.

The budget repair bill and collective bargaining reforms instituted by Walker have already borne fruit for Wisconsin. According to the Governor’s office, local governments and school districts have already saved over $220 million. In June 13,000 private sector jobs were created, making Wisconsin the fifth best state in the nation for job creation.

Madison—One month after the 2011-13 state budget was signed into law, tangible results from the reforms put in place by Governor Walker and the Legislature are being realized.  According to media reports, local units of government and school districts have already saved more than $220 million, with millions more in potential savings not yet reported.

The state is also adding jobs. Between December 2007 and December 2010, Wisconsin lost over 153,600 private sector jobs.  The state has netted over 39,000 new private sector jobs since the Governor called a special session to open Wisconsin for business.  The state has seen 14,100 manufacturing jobs created since January.  In June Wisconsin had a net job creation of 9,500 new jobs, including nearly 13,000 private sector jobs.  Only four states created more private sector jobs than Wisconsin did in the last month.

The bigger problem for the unions is that, for all their money spent and their large mobilization effort, during the next general election Governor Walker’s accomplishments will be even more pronounced, even as Big Labor will need to dig deeper into its depleting war chest for 2012 election. The changes to teacher benefits alone could save the state over $500 per student. According to John McCormack of the Weekly Standard, the changes even saved teacher’s jobs.

Emily Koczela had been anxiously waiting for months for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s controversial budget repair bill to take effect. Koczela, the had been negotiating with the local union, trying to get it to accept concessions in order to make up for a $1 million budget shortfall. But the union wouldn’t budge.

“We laid off 27 [teachers] as a precautionary measure,” [Emily] Koczela [finance director for Wisconsin’s Brown Deer school district],told [Mccormack.] “They were crying. Some of these people are my friends.”

On June 29 at 12:01 a.m., Koczela could finally breathe a sigh of relief. The budget repair bill?—?delayed for months by protests, runaway state senators, and a legal challenge that made its way to the state’s supreme court?—?was law. The 27 teachers on the chopping block were spared.

With “collective bargaining rights” limited to wages, Koczela was able to change the teachers’ benefits package to fill the budget gap. Requiring teachers to contribute 5.8 percent of their salary toward pensions saved $600,000. Changes to their health care plan?—?such as a $10 office visit co-pay (up from nothing)?—?saved $200,000. Upping the workload from five classes, a study hall, and two prep periods to six classes and two prep periods saved another $200,000. The budget was balanced.

In the end, results speak louder than propaganda.