On Scott Walker, Wisconsin, and the Budget Repair Bill: Is the Story Over Yet?

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

I have already written three posts about Governor Scott Walker, his budget repair bill, and the protesters in Wisconsin. People have been interested in the Wisconsin story and have left nearly 1,800 comments at my three posts. I’ve even received requests to write up another post so that we could continue the discussion on the subject. I think there are others like me who believe the Wisconsin/Walker story is not over yet.

As I did last week, I’m posting links to some articles on the subject for you—as well as excerpts from some of the articles.

Democrats immediately file suit to halt challenges (Journal Sentinel)

By Jason Stein, Don Walker, and Patrick Marley

Excerpt: Wisconsin is now among the vanguard of Midwestern states embarking on a new era with their rules for public unions. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, signed an executive order in 2005 to eliminate collective bargaining for state employees. Ohio is working on a measure to rewrite its collective bargaining law with public-sector unions.

But the fight in Wisconsin isn’t over – Democrats and unions are already filing lawsuits against the proposal and recall actions against GOP senators who approved it.

“It’s just the beginning,” said Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar). “This is the civil rights issue of this century.”


Wisconsin’s Legacy of Labor Battles (New York Times)

By Kate Zernike

Excerpt: In her book, “Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900-1950,” Professor Feurer recounts how companies in the electrical industry in St. Louis started a network known as the Metal Trades Association in the first part of the 20th century to fight union organizing. The association had been alarmed by union protests that erupted violently with the Haymarket Square riot in 1886 and the demands for an eight-hour day, which started with the 1894 Pullman strike in Illinois — an early effort by Eugene V. Debs, the former Indiana legislator and future Socialist Party candidate for president.

“That left a legacy of the 1930s and ’40s for employers to form deep right-wing networks,” Professor Feurer said.

That network, she argues, was the precursor to the Midwestern groups that have now been assisting the fight against the unions in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana: the Bradley Foundation, based in Milwaukee, and Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kan. David H. and Charles G. Koch, the billionaire brothers behind the energy and manufacturing conglomerate that bears their name, have been large donors to Mr. Walker in Wisconsin, as has their advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, which first opened an office in Wisconsin in 2005.


Opposition gears up for more protests, lawsuits as Walker signs anti-union bill (The Bellingham Herald)

By Ryan Haggerty and Michael Muskal

Excerpt: Even as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday signed into law a bill that sharply curbs collective bargaining for most public employees, his opponents were preparing for more demonstrations, court battles and political infighting over what has become a national test of labor’s power.

Organizers were hoping to attract tens of thousands protesters to the Capitol on Saturday for a rally featuring the return of Democratic lawmakers who fled the state on Feb. 17 in an effort to block the measure from passing. Along with the rally, Democrats are planning to ask the courts to overturn the new law and they have begun circulating petitions to recall some lawmakers. GOP supporters are circulating their own recall petitions, directed at the Democrats.


Op-Ed: The GOP’s costly Wisconsin Koch binge is a wake-up call (Digital Journal)

The Big Shakedown: Wisconsin and the GOP’s Vision for America’s Future (Common Dreams) 

Dane County sues state to block budget bill (The Cap Times) 

Union Bill Is Law, but Debate Is Far from Over (New York Times) 

My Previous Posts

Scott Walker: A Fiscally Responsible Governor or a Politician Who Is Playing Favorites?

Is the Scott Walker Story Just the Tip of the Koch Brothers’ Political Iceberg?

Wisconsin, Scott Walker, and Protesting Workers: The Story Continues

492 thoughts on “On Scott Walker, Wisconsin, and the Budget Repair Bill: Is the Story Over Yet?”

  1. Elaine,
    Issa is so dirty. Can you imagine how loud he would have screamed if a Dem had blocked anything from being entered into the public record?!

  2. Elaine,

    No disrespect intended but what’s wrong with an over sized bathtub? I happen to enjoy mine…. And compared to Taft I am a slight person….

  3. Swarthmore mom,

    If Christie ever became president, he’d have to bathe in the oversized bathtub that Taft once installed in the White House.

  4. Blouise,

    Speaking of Christie–did you see this story?

    Gov. Chris Christie Tells Reporters To ‘Take The Bat’ To 76-Year Old Widow Legislator
    Think Progress, 4/14/2011

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has virtually declared war on the state’s labor unions, is known for having an antagonizing style of politics, with some of his most infamous moments including telling a teacher to quit when she talked about how his politicking was hurting the reputation of educators in the state.

    Christie’s latest foray into bullying rhetoric came yesterday, where he asked a group of reporters to “take the bat out” on a 76-year old female legislator Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D) because she has the temerity to collect a pension in addition to her part-time salary as a legislator:

    Governor Christie told reporters Wednesday to “take the bat” to 76-year-old Sen. Loretta Weinberg for collecting a taxpayer-funded pension while making $49,000 a year as a legislator. […]

    “I mean, can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?” Christie said to a crowd of reporters at a State House news conference. “Here’s a woman who knows she did it, yet she comes to you and is pining … ‘Oh! My goodness! How awful this is! What a double standard!’ But she’s the queen of double standard.”

    Asked about Christie’s comment, Weinberg replied, “The guy’s a little over the line. I’ll continue criticizing him on the issues I think I should criticize him on.”

    NorthJersey.com notes that Weinberg, a widow, lost much of her savings in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which is why she applied for retirement benefits to supplement her part-time legislator’s income. The site also notes that on “Tuesday, an Eagleton Institute of Politics poll showed 53 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans found Christie to be a ‘bully.’ In an August survey, 35 percent of Democrats and 10 percent of Republicans had described the governor as such.”

  5. Gotta love Dennis.

    By the way … Ohio State Representatives, Mike Foley (Cleveland) and Robert Hagan (Youngstown) are busy going about getting their bill to recall Kasich moving. Mass emailing have gone out requesting support. Kasich’s response, “There’s a lot of politics going on …”

    Ah, yeah …. Kasich’s approval rating is at 30% which is worse than either Walker of Christie who both stand right around 40%

  6. “Scott Walker Admits Union-Busting Provision ‘Doesn’t Save Any’ Money For The State Of Wisconsin”

    Color me shocked! Shocked, I say!

    Good on Kucinich for hammering away at this piece of rat filth.

    Oh, and Issa’s a d*ckhead.

  7. Scott Walker Admits Union-Busting Provision ‘Doesn’t Save Any’ Money For The State Of Wisconsin
    By Zaid Jilani
    Think Progress, 4/14/2011

    Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform called Govs. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Peter Shumlin (D-VT) to testify in a hearing titled “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead.” Much of the hearing was spent probing Wisconsin’s spate of anti-union restrictions it recently passed.

    At one point, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) confronted Walker about his crackdown on public employee unions. The congressman referenced a provision Walker signed into law that would require union members to vote every year to continue their membership. Kucinich asked the governor how much money the state would save from the provision. Walker repeatedly dodged the question and eventually admitted that it actually wouldn’t save anything at all.

    Kucinich then asked Walker how much money would be saved by barring union dues from being drawn from employee paychecks, another provision of Walker’s legislation. Walker claimed that it would save workers money, but was unable to explain how it would save the state any money. Kucinich then produced a document from the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state’s equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office, that concluded that Walker’s measures were “nonfiscal” — meaning they had no impact on the state’s finances. Kucinich asked that the letter be included in the public record, but Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) refused:

    KUCINICH: Let me ask you about some of the specific provisions in your proposals to strip collective bargaining rights. First, your proposal would require unions to hold annual votes to continue representing their own members. Can you please explain to me and members of this committee how much money this provision saves for your state budget?

    WALKER: That and a number of other provisions we put in because if you’re going to ask, if you’re going to put in place a change like that, we wanted to make sure we protected the workers of our state, so they got value out of that. […]

    KUCINICH: Would you answer the question? How much money does it save, Governor?

    WALKER: It doesn’t save any. […]

    KUCINICH: I want to ask about another one of your proposals. Under your plan you would prohibit paying union member dues from their paychecks. How much money would this provision save your state budget?

    WALKER: It would save employees a thousand dollars a year they could use to pay for their pensions and health care contributions.

    KUCINICH: Governor, it wouldn’t save anything. [Goes on to present letter from LRF and is denied unanimous request for it to be placed in the public record by Issa]


    Check out the link above to see the video of Walker and Kucinich.

  8. Wisconsin’s Walker in Washington to Discuss How Republicans Can Best Serve Koch Brothers Agenda
    John Nichols
    The Nation
    April 14, 2011

    Governor Scott Walker will, presumably, take a longing glance at the White House as his limousine wheels toward Capitol Hill, where he will tell Congress how to balance budgets by attacking public services and public education.

    Walker has made little secret of his desire to be the next Ronald Reagan. And the hypr-ambitious governor of Wisconsin knows that his trip to Washington — for a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, is trying to counter President Obama’s budget balancing speech with an alternative vision of “fiscal responsibility.”

    No one expects the governor explain how to do it the Walker Way: Take a lot of campaign contributions from the Koch Brothers and other billionaires. Get elected. Carry out the Koch Brothers agenda. Turn down $810 million in federal transportation funding. Then you give tax breaks to your campaign donors. Then claim there is a budget crisis that must be addressd immediately. Then you use it as an excuse to break unions, consolidate power and sell off public assets to your political pals. Then all hell breaks loose.

    Instead, Walker will peddle the line that has failed so miserable in Wisconsin, claiming that he is taking necessary steps to tackle a broken budget. And he won’t, won’t, won’t mention that the previous Democratic governor dealt with more serious fiscal challenges and tackled them successfully — with the cooperation of public-sector unions and without wrecking public services of public education.

    Issa’s “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead” hearing is being trumpeted as a serious discussion of “the severity of debt obligations and need for spending cuts.” There will be other participants, a resident scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, the president of the militantly anti-labor National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a professor of finance at the University of Rochester and, um, another resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

  9. Gov. Scott Walker heads to Capitol Hill
    The State Column | Staff | Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is headed to Capitol Hill.

    California U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa is hosting Mr. Walker on Capitol Hill Thursday for a hearing on “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead.”

    “Rather than kick the can down the road in Wisconsin, Governor Walker’s actions to cut spending and address over-compensation of public employees are putting his state government in a stronger financial position,” Mr. Issa said in a statement.

  10. Elaine M,

    “According to the criminal complaint, Gardner’s own donations exceeded the state’s $10,000 limit for contributions to a gubernatorial candidate. And Gardner also asked employees to make $5,000 contributions to Walker’s campaign, he then reimbursed them himself and the employees with company money.

    It is against the law in Wisconsin for a donor to make political contributions in another person’s name. It is, as well, against the law for corporations to make political contributions.”

    Whoopsie! I bet Walker’s sweating now …and if he’s not, he damned well should be …

  11. Walker And Prosser Crushed Regulations On Koch Industry’s Phosphorus Pollution In Wisconsin
    By Lee Fang
    Think Progress, 4/13/2011

    Shortly after helping to elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Koch Industries opened a new lobbying office in Madison near the state capitol. However, little has been disclosed about the Koch lobbying agenda in Madison. The New York Times reported that Koch political operatives privately pressured Walker to crush public employee unions. But Walker’s major payback to Koch relates to environmental deregulation.

    ThinkProgress has learned that the Walker administration, along with state Supreme Court judge David Prosser, has quietly worked to allow Koch’s many Georgia Pacific paper plants to pollute Wisconsin by pouring thousands of pounds of phosphorus into the water.

    Koch’s Georgia Pacific plants are well known for releasing large amounts of phosphorus into Wisconsin’s waterways. A report by the state government showed that Georgia Pacific is responsible for about 9% of total phosphorus pollution in the Lower Fox River near Green Bay.

    In 2005, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) issued a permit to Koch’s Georgia Pacific company to nearly double its phosphorus pollution in the Fox River. A group of Wisconsin citizens challenged the permit the following year, claiming the DNR’s permit violated the Clean Water Act. In 2010, the Wisconsin Third District Court of Appeals ruled that the public has a right to challenge the permit, and that the DNR did not appropriately hold public hearings. Around the same time, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board adopted “sweeping regulations” to control phosphorus pollution to slow down “runaway algae growth.”

  12. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus has to stay in office for now … it will be a bargaining tool when the time comes for criminal charges.

    Think back to all those politicians through the years swearing they did nothing wrong, determined to stay in office and then a year later resigning under a “plea deal”.

  13. rafflaw,

    Kloppenburg Seeks Open Records Request from Waukesha County
    By: David Dayen Friday April 8, 2011

    JoAnne Kloppenburg, now behind by around 7,000 votes in the closely contested state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin, has filed an open records request seeking all documentation surrounding the sudden discovery of 14,000 votes in Waukesha County by the right-wing County Clerk on her home PC:

    “Wisconsin voters as well as the Kloppenburg for Justice Campaign deserve a full explanation of how and why these 14,000 votes from an entire City were missed. To that end, we will be filing open records requests for all relevant documentation related to the reporting of election results in Waukesha County, as well as to the discovery and reporting of the errors announced by the County. We are confident that election officials in Waukesha County will fulfill these requests as quickly as possible so that both our campaign and the people of Wisconsin can fully understand what happened and why. Just as Assistant Attorney General Kloppenburg has run to restore confidence in the court, Wisconsin residents also deserve to have full confidence in election results.”

    It’s worth noting that Kloppenburg gains in other parts of the canvass have kept her within the 0.5% required for a recount paid for by the state. So far, her campaign is only pursuing the records request.

    As it turns out, this is not the first time something has gone askew in Waukesha County. Check this out from 2006. A primary for an Assembly seat had results shift on her mid-stream in that race, too. And certainly the process in the county, where Kathy Nickolaus keeps all the tallying on her home computer, is a bit unusual. Not to mention the fact that she sat on the revelation of the missing votes in Brookfield for 29 hours before revealing it. Nickolaus, incidentally, worked for the Assembly Republican caucus at a time when David Prosser was the Speaker of the Assembly, i.e. her boss.

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