The financial crisis in Wisconsin is still heating up as demonstrators protest the collective bargaining rights of the unions. This week, we learned about the budget plan proposed within the state and it is only going to further the debate over union entitlements.
MSNBC reports that Republican Governor Scott Walker revealed his full budget plan for the state the afternoon of Tuesday, March 1. Walker’s plan proposes a $900 million cut from the education department, which is about a 9 percent cut in financial aid for schools. Walker proposes that the schools cut their property tax authority by about $550 per student. Cities within the state would see a cut in aid by about 8.8 percent, which equates to $60 million, and each county would lose about $36 million.
Walker has also proposed a cut to state agencies by about 10 percent, but they would still get their salary and benefits packages. There have been 735 positions within the state that have been empty for over a year, and Walker wishes to also permanently eliminate those jobs. Overall, Walker’s plan will put pressure on the educational system to make drastic cuts in their staff and resources, which will likely lead to teacher layoffs and more students in each classroom.
Walker’s full plan will have significant impact on the increasingly controversial national discussion surrounding budget reconciliation and workers’ rights. Walker’s plan will basically set the precedent for other states looking to control their budget and lessen the deficit. Walker’s plan calls for a lot of cuts to the educational department, which will ultimately lead to teachers being let go and the students will be in bigger groups. This could harm the educational system even worse because it will be harder for students to get individual attention by the teacher, since more children will be in the classroom. Workers’ rights will play a huge part in the Wisconsin battle and it will also heat up the discussion in other states which face similar challenges related to their own fiscal crisis.
If the budget proposal passes, then other states will be looking at Wisconsin to see how the plan plays out; it will be an example for others to either follow or avoid. The national discussion surrounding budget reconciliation basically got started because of Walker and his budget proposal in Wisconsin, so it is only expected to have a huge impact nationwide. If the budget proposal eliminates a lot of the workers’ rights, then it will only increase the protests and demonstrations around other states that are looking to reduce the collective bargaining rights of state employees. This budget proposal will only increase the discussions on unions and it might also lead to more states following a similar budget plan as Wisconsin. A lot of people are frustrated and angry over the proposed educational cuts, so more teachers and union workers will be demonstrating in their state to make sure it does not happen there.
MSNBC Staff and Associated Press, “Wis. governor: Ax $900 million from education”, MSNBC