Wisconsin's Walker: 'This is about balancing our budget' 

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says the continuing showdown with his state's public employee unions is at bottom about whether the state government can "balance its budget" and why "at a tough time when the private sector has been making sacrifices to keep people working, we should expect the same from government."

In an interview with Examiner contributor Tina Korbe of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy, Walker says the old games played by professional politicians must end: "I think in November, voters certainly here in Wisconsin, but across the country, voters elected people to turn things around, to balance the budget, to stop the games ... we're broke and it's about time somebody stood up and told the truth."

Besides balancing the budget and heeding the will of the majority of voters, Walker points to one of the fundamental problems with collective bargaining in the public sector:

"When you have people who are working for the government, who are forced to pay into the union, anywhere from five, 600 hundred dollars up to, some teachers are paying as much as $1,000 in union dues, when they are forced to be in that union and they are forced to have that taken out of their payroll, those are things that ultimately take those dollars that we as taxpayers pay and instead of compensating that teacher or that worker, we're ultimately paying a portion of that so the union can come back and lobby for more government spending."

Despite the rhetoric from national Democratic and union leaders about Walker seeking to repeal Wisconsin's public employee collective bargaining rights, the governor notes that all of the state's civil service merit systems protections will remain in place after his proposal becomes law.

What the politicians and union leaders really care about, according to Walker, is the money, the millions of dollars in dues money union members are forced to pay every year whether they want to or not:

"Really, these national leaders coming in don't care so much about their rights as much as they care about the money. The money they really want is the money those workers are forced to pay to local unions, which ultimately streams up to the internationals in Washington and across the country," Walker said.

"They want their hands on that money, it's not about protecting workers, or the workers conditions or pay because the unions have already given in on that, they said 'we'll give you the pension and health care, just don't change the collective bargaining and don't change the dues provision that makes them automatically pay right now."

But Walker is an optimist, saying he believes most voters have now seen through union propaganda about collective bargaining rights and see it as the "vicious cycle" that it is:

"I think after this last election, people have realized, not only here in Wisconsin and across the country when it comes to states, but even at the federal level, we can't afford it anymore, we're broke." 

Walker is very much a Reaganaut because, he tells Korbe, Reagan "knew who he was, he knew where he was going and he did what he had to do to get there."

Walker shares something else with Reagan because his confrontation with militant public employee unions who demand that taxpayers stop complaining about having to support overly generous compensation programs for bureaucrats recalls the former's president's early test in the PATCO strike.

The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) was the union that represented the FAA's air traffic controllers. PATCO leaders demanded across-the-board raises of $10,000, plus significantly reduced work weeks. The FAA said no, and the union members went out on strike, an act that violated long-standing federal law.

Reagan gave the striking controllers 48 hours to return to work. When they stayed off the job, Reagan fired 11,000 of them. Among the ironies was the fact that PATCO was the only major national union to have endorsed Reagan for the presidency in the 1980 presidential campaign.

Any doubts about Reagan's character or determination ended right there, and his decision was noticed around the world, including in the Kremlin where Soviet leaders realized they were dealing with somebody whose words meant something.

You can view the entire Walker interview below:

 

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Mark Tapscott

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