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In early 2o11, journalistic apologists for compulsory unionism relentlessly vilified Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for identifying public policies promoting monopolistic government unionism as a key cause of his state’s structural budget deficit, and for seeking to change those policies as a part of his budget reform package.
Mr. Walker’s budget reform, known as Act 10, empowered state and local government officials to use taxpayers’ money more efficiently and effectively by sharply limiting most government union bosses’ ability to use their monopoly-bargaining power to obstruct needed changes in compensation and work-rule policies. Thanks to Act 10, public-sector managers now find it far less difficult to furnish necessary public services at a cost taxpayers can afford.
Another, even more important benefit of Act 10 is that it protects teachers and most other public employees from being fired for refusal to join or pay dues or fees to an unwanted union. Unfortunately, a sloppily reasoned opinion issued this September by an activist county judge has for the time being put Act 10 in legal limbo. However, well-informed and dispassionate observers in Wisconsin expect all the key provisions of Act 10 ultimately to be upheld on appeal.
Back in 2011, Big Labor-cheerleading Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne and other pundits of his ilk insisted that what Wisconsin and other states with chronic budget shortfalls needed most of all was much higher taxes. In one March 2011 column (linked above), Mr. Dionne even refused to entertain the possibility that government union bosses’ monopoly-bargaining privileges unnecessarily raise the cost of government services. Instead, he commended “responsible” tax-raising, union-label politicians like Connecticut’s Democratic governor, Dan Malloy.
While Mr. Walker and his legislative allies were pushing successfully for Act 10, Mr. Malloy and his cohorts never even considered a monopoly-bargaining rollback and instead foisted a multibillion-dollar tax increase on Nutmeg State taxpayers.
Recent budget news emanating from Connecticut indicates Mr. Malloy’s “responsible” approach to his state’s budget crisis has been a miserable failure. The governor’s budget chief admitted to legislators on November 14 that Connecticut is facing a $365 million deficit for this fiscal year. That’s six times greater than what Mr. Malloy estimated before the elections. (See the second link above.) Meanwhile, Wisconsin now has a budget surplus. (See the third link above.)
The “raise taxes, but don’t restrict government union bosses’ special privileges” budget approach has flopped not just in Connecticut, but also in California, Illinois, and other states with Big Labor governors. Isn’t it time for E.J. Dionne and other pundits who lauded this approach back in 2011 to take a look at what’s happened since and admit it’s at least possible they were wrong?