It takes a lot of spin to sell a load of …., well, to sell an idea that is unpopular with most Wisconsinites. Here is a list of the top ten lies so far:
1) We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. The need for a budget “repair” bill is manufactured so that Governor Scott Walker can bring in a “Trojan Horse” of bad conservative ideas promoted nationally by the far right. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said no statutory trigger was met to require a repair bill.
2) Governor Walker has said, "This is not a shock." The Republican who took office in January said "The shock would be if we didn't go forward with this.” He was referring to his claim that during his campaign he said he was going to do the things that are in his budget “repair” bill. Not so fast, Governor. This one is a make-your-own project: Google ANYTHING about getting rid of collective bargaining, allowing a single committee oversight over sweeping reductions of access to Badgercare, etc. No, really. Try it.
3) The question isn’t so much whether it’s a lie or not, but the size of the lie. Walker claimed if we didn’t pass his “repair” bill, either 1,500 or 6,000 workers would be laid off. Why its not 2,500 or 4,000, I don’t know but I do know it’s a lie. The total brought in by the changes to health care and pensions are $30 million. According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the average salary for a state employee is about $50,300 annually plus benefits. At that salary alone, the total would be $301,800,000 for 6,000 employees – a total cost way more than the policy changes about employees’ benefits would bring in.
4) He also stated that “close to 200,000 children who would be bumped off Medicard-related programs.” More manure. Legally, the state does not have the option to change eligibility requirements or remove kids from Medicaid according to the federal health care law until the year 2019. And by then, trust me, Walker will not be Governor.
5) Walker’s claims that states without collective bargaining having faired better in the current bad economy are wrong. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, three of the 13 non-collective bargaining states are among the eleven states facing budget shortfalls at or above 20% (Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina). Another, South Carolina, comes in at a sizable 17.4%. Nevada, where state employees have no collective bargaining rights (but local employees do) has the largest percentage shortfall in the country, at 45.2%. All in all, eight non-collective-bargaining states face larger budget shortfalls than either Wisconsin or Ohio.
6) Public employees living high off the hog? Hogwash! The truth is usually people in public service work because they want to be public servants. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower than those for private sector employees with comparable earnings determinants such as education and work experience. State workers typically are undercompensated by 8.2% in Wisconsin.
7) Both Governor Walker and legislative leaders said we needed a “repair” bill to address a payment owed to the State of Minnesota of nearly $60 million and money owed to the Patient’s Compensation Fund in the tune of $200-plus million. The bill as introduced addresses NEITHER.
8) After getting heat for calling the National Guard instead of the unions to sit down and negotiate, he quickly backpedaled saying he merely put them “on alert” to take over the prisons if necessary. His handlers quickly realized that he over-reacted and needed to pull back before looking completely obstructionist. We have not had to put the National Guard into action due to a piece of state legislation in, well, pretty much forever. Instead of calling the unions to sit down and negotiate, he calls the National Guard and downplays (lies) about it later.
9) Walker has said that our budget problems are largely due to employee wages. Not even close, Governor. Total salaries and compensation in the last budget were 8.5%* of the entire state budget. Even with the changes being made to paying more for health insurance and pensions, the total is less than 1/10th of one percent. Our real problem is the same as every state – revenues in sales tax and income tax are down due to unemployment. Luckily, unless Walker really blows it, he inherited a lower unemployment rate and a better tax collection rebound than most states in the nation.
10) The Governor has over and over that the “repair” bill is about making state workers pay more for their health insurance and pension. As we all know, if that is all that the bill did he’d be sitting back at his mansion right now, sipping on a nice scotch, and playing on-line chess with Grover Norquist. This bill is about so much more. We all know it takes away people’s rights to collectively bargain. But it also allows for sweeping changes and reductions in Medicaid, makes it almost impossible for unions to exist, engages in a risky ‘scoop and toss’ debt restructuring, sells off state power plants and much, much more.
That’s ten for now. I’m sure they will keep piling up. But seeing it all in one place sure is illustrative of Governor’s Walker accounting of the “repair” bill has no merit.
Governor, c’mon. You owe us better than this.
*The 8.5% figure from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau excludes two agencies: Corrections and the UW System. No one is talking about reducing critical public safety staffing at corrections (you can't) and many positions at the UW are largely if not excusively based on federal funds. If both agencies were included, LFB puts that number at 17.7% (a number that is skewed because of federally funded and other critical public safety positions). Thus, Walker 's proposed employee pension and healthcare changes remain a very small percent of total state employee salary and thus, a small portion of the state's budget and a small portion of the state's budget deficit.
UPDATE: The list of lies is growing fast. Check out this PolitiFact debunking Walker's statement that under his budget 'repair' bill, collective bargaining rights are "left in tact."