Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gov. Walker going after the unions

Here's a friend from Wisconsin with some VERY astute observations about how Gov. Walker going after the unions is making them more willing to negotiate/compromise on reasonable things (emphasis added).  Is this really what it takes?!

I don't like Scott Walker as I think the partisan political aspects of what he is doing are apparent.

However, I have also had the pleasure of being involved with putting together a long term financial plan for our local public school district.  The current funding model is broken and we are in the process of pitching a referendum to the community to fund preexisting pension agreements and also to pay for post-retirement healthcare expenses.  Basically we are going to raise taxes to fund debt service so we can put more money in the class room.

I feel very fortunate to be living in a district with good public schools, which I believe makes for a strong community.  By in large, I have been impressed with the caliber of the teachers my kids have had over the years.

In selling the referendum to the community, it would be beneficial to be able to point to a shared sacrifice of the part of the teachers union to try and make the tax increase palatable to the families in our community.  We have been without a teachers union contract for about 18 months as the union has stonewalled any reasonable changes.  In fact, they have really refused to meet and negotiate with the school board in a good faith manner.

Lo and behold, after all the happenings with Madison last week, they are now very anxious to settle.  My observations are that the Wisconsin teachers union has really abused their power for a number of years and is, in large part disconnected from the many hard working teachers that we have in our school system.  In my opinion, the Teacher's Union got what they had coming to them based upon the way they have conducted business over the years.

The whole scenario got me thinking a little bit more about the situation in Wisconsin and other states.  When everything unfolded in Madison last week, I was reflexively anti Scott Walker.  However, the more I think about it, the Democrats have too cozy a relationship with the unions who represent their base.  Decisions are being made based on alliances instead of sound long term fiscal policy.

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