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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Very important points to ponder about Tuesday's recall

“A recall election for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is scheduled for June 5.  But on the ballot that day will effectively be whether we should establish in law after all these years a new aristocracy in America, not subject to the democratic will of the people like everyone else, with special legal privileges, including the right to plunder the taxpayers with virtual impunity.  That new aristocracy is state and local government public employee unions.”

“The Wisconsin recall is a farce???—???a childish, union-sponsored tantrum that will cost the state’s taxpayers an estimated $18 million. Perhaps the greatest irony is that Democrats rarely discuss its ostensible cause: collective bargaining. Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee who is seeking to replace Walker, did not use the phrase in the speech he gave celebrating his victory in the Democratic primary… There’s a reason the governor’s reforms have gone from being the center of the anti-Walker movement to a talking point to be avoided. They’ve worked. Walker took office with a projected deficit of $3.6 billion, and in two years he’s erased it. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue projected last month that the state will have a budget surplus of $154 million by the summer of 2013.”
The Weekly Standard

“Restricting public sector collective bargaining freed the state and local governments from the de facto veto unions could exercise over their budgets and allowed taxpayers to ask public employees to contribute more???—???in some cases to begin contributing something???—???to their own health care and pension benefits. Before the reforms, most public employee union members paid less than 1 percent of their salary toward their pensions and contributed 6 percent of the cost of their health care premiums. And in fact, Wisconsin public employees still have a good deal???—???with most contributing 5.8 percent of their salary toward their pension and up to 12.6 percent of their health care premium, well below the averages for the private sector.

In addition, the reforms brought an end to forced union membership. This means that public employees can opt out of the union and stop paying its dues. A teacher in, say, the suburbs of Madison who opts out will bring home an additional $1,100 a year.”

The Weekly Standard

“After all the yelling and screaming in Wisconsin, in the end these government workers were only required to contribute 5.8% of their salaries towards their pensions, which is matched by their government employers (taxpayers), and 12.6% of the costs of their health insurance, with the other 87% paid by taxpayers. This compares to private sector workers paying on average 21% of the cost of their company health insurance, with most private sector workers having no pension at all.”
The American Spectator

Take Milwaukee, where Barrett is the mayor. Even he has acknowledged that the reforms in Act 10, Walker’s early 2011 budget-repair bill, enabled his city government to balance its budget. Walker’s cuts in state aid to the city cost it $14 million, but it was able to come up with $30 million in savings, of which two-thirds came from the budget-repair law. The law required employees to pay a larger share of their insurance premiums, and it also made it easier for the city of Milwaukee to switch to more cost-efficient health-insurance plans.

As public-employee union contracts come up for renewal around the state, the savings will keep adding up, relieving local pressure to raise property taxes or cut back basic services. Indeed, this past year property taxes statewide actually declined for the first time in a dozen years.”

National Review

For school districts so far, the savings from this competitive bidding alone have amounted to $211.47 per student. Statewide that would add up to nearly $200 million in savings.

The state has also used this flexibility to halt fraudulent sick leave abuses that unions used to inflate overtime expenses. Workers had called in sick for their own shifts, and then worked the next shift on overtime pay. School districts have also been freed to pay teachers based on performance and not just seniority, and to keep better performing teachers rather than longer term time servers who have long given up caring about their job performance.”

The American Spectator

Which raises a question for those aghast at Scott Walker's budget: How much higher should taxes be in Wisconsin?

According to the Tax Foundation, in 2009, Wisconsin had the fourth-highest combined state and local tax burden in the country, with only New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut residents paying more. 2009 is the latest year available for this figure, but there's little reason to believe much if anything has changed. In 2009, the Tax Foundation found that Wisconsin residents paid 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes. The compared to 12.3 for New Jersey residents (the highest rate) and 6.3 percent for Alaskans (the lowest rate).

Wisconsin has historically been a high-tax state - in 1985 for instance, it had the second-highest combined state and local tax rate in the nation, at 12 percent - but it seems unlikely that increasing taxes to spend more money (or borrowing more money to be paid back later via tax revenues) is a smart way to boost a flagging economy.”

Walker is somehow a liar for not mentioning his plan while campaigning for governor in fall 2010. Walker’s proposal ‘went far beyond what anybody thought he would do,’ union leader Richard Abelson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in February. ‘He didn’t talk about it during the campaign.’

The Walker complainers have a more finely honed selective memory than people who remember the Titanic as a fine dining experience. Do they recall Walker’s predecessor, Democrat Jim Doyle, campaigning on cutting the University of Wisconsin budget by $250 million and raising tuition 35% in two years to cover it? Was candidate Doyle in 2002 running around the state promising to raid the transportation fund and backfill it with debt? Of course not — but upon taking office, he thought he had to do these things to balance the budget.

In fact, the archetype of the lying politician is as ingrained in American politics as the sight of candidates kissing babies. Doyle promised never to raise taxes — yet he raised them by billions during his tenure. Candidate Barack Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility — yet under President Obama, there it remains, providing the government with the intelligence it needed to catch Osama bin Laden.

And yet Walker isn’t being excoriated for going back on a promise; he’s being criticized simply for something he didn’t say. (Incidentally, plenty of unions were telling their members during the campaign that Walker was going to roll back their ability to bargain.) “

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute

As the Republicans folded together like Russian nesting dolls, the Democrats have been driven by conflicting interests. Labor unions pumped several million dollars into the losing campaign of Barrett’s primary opponent, and the national party has been tentative about going all in. Meanwhile, Walker’s allies built a state-of-the-art ground game to protect a politician so reviled by his opponents that they have taken to burning his campaign signs.  ‘They can protest,’ Wisconsin GOP communications director Ben Sparks says of the Democrats. ‘They’ve got us beat on that. But that’s about all they’ve got us beat on’.”
TIME magazine

I'm a lifelong Democrat and a career educator. So I'm predictably appalled by Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has cut spending for schools and stripped teachers — and most of the state's public workers — of collective bargaining rights.

But I'm also appalled by the recall campaign against Walker by Wisconsin Democrats, who Tuesday chose Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to run against Walker in a June 5 special election — a rematch of the 2010 contest. The recall epitomizes the petty, loser-take-all vindictiveness of contemporary American politics.

As a liberal, I'm troubled by the prospect of voters unseating an elected official over taxes. Or abortion. Or gun control. If you can recall leaders for any political reason, sooner or later your own ox will be gored.

I'm also worried that the Wisconsin recall, which has drawn nationwide attention and money, will trigger a vicious cycle of partisan retribution. Your guy didn't win in November? No problem. Start a recall drive now.

Most of all, though, I fear that the recall threat will make our elected officials even more timid and poll-tested than they already are. Sometimes, great leaders need to take unpopular positions. And politically motivated recalls make that less likely…”
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory."

Why do unions lose so many certification elections after successful petition drives?  Put yourself in the place of an employee of a targeted company.   A union organizer or some fellow worker shoves a petition in your face and says something like: ‘You want to sign this petition, don’t you?  You don’t want to stand in the way of your fellow workers forming a union to protect their rights in the workplace, do you?’  If you decline to sign that petition at work, perhaps some of your pro-union colleagues will visit you at home to see if you’ve changed your mind!  There’s a rather nifty little way for them to remind you that they know where you live; and where your car is parked at night; and where your wife and children are when you’re at work.  So what do you do?  Well, since you know that you’ll be able to vote against the union on a secret ballot, you sign the petition.  You go along to get along.  The election comes, unions lose, and union leaders grit their teeth and bemoan the loss of all those wonderful union dues.  Unions know if they could just get rid of the secret ballot election and rely on their intimidation tactics to get a card signed by you -- with a check mark in the ‘Yes!  Let’s unionize!’ box -- they’re home free. 

Well that’s pretty much the same scenario citizens of Wisconsin faced while the unions were running about with their recall petitions.  That person shoving the recall petition in your face might have been a coworker.  Perhaps it was a neighbor.  Maybe it was your child’s teacher!  The scenarios are almost endless, but whatever the scenario you did not want to create a conflict or controversy with that person by not signing their precious recall petition.  You didn’t want a neighbor refusing to let his kid play with your kid because you’re “anti-union.”  You didn’t want a teacher retaliating against your child in your local government school.  You didn’t want your co-worker to be angry with you because you didn’t sign the petition her union husband sent to work with her.  Maybe you’re a business owner in Madison.  You know if you don’t sign the recall petition the union goons will brand you and your business as anti-union.  For every single one of these scenarios, the solution was the same.  Sign the petition, shut the goonion organizer up, and wait to have your true say when the recall election comes around.”

Wisconsin leapt to 20th place in our Best States/Worst States list this year from 24th last year, one of only eight states that enjoyed a rise of at least four spots. That followed a phenomenal 17-place leap in last year’s list, where it occupied the doldrums of 41st place. Wisconsin also fared well by other gauges last year, especially in how it treated entrepreneurs. The state ranked 4th last year in tax costs on new firms, as calculated by the Tax Foundation, and a Kauffman Center Index of Entrepreneurial Activity showed Wisconsin with the 7th largest rise last year among the handful of states that did better at all.

‘There’s now a keen focus on making sure we’re competitive to be a place where businesses can create jobs and wealth,’ said Mary Ellen Stanek, director of asset management for Milwaukee-based brokerage Robert W. Baird & Co. Stanek, who is a member of Milwaukee 7, a public-private, economic-development partnership of seven counties, points out that neighboring Illinois faces ‘big challenges in terms of tax rates and the overall climate for business’.”
Chief Executive magazine

“By virtually every objective measure, Walker has been an extraordinarily successful governor…So why is Scott Walker facing a recall vote? He hasn’t broken any laws. He hasn’t been charged with a crime. No one has accused him of accepting bribes or molesting children or any of the things most people think of when they think about recalling a sitting governor.

Walker is facing recall for one reason: His reforms have diminished the power of unions, and the unions want revenge.”
The Weekly Standard

Whether it's in Wisconsin, Illinois, California or the nation's capital, today's public sector workers expect to do little or no work (I'm not counting partying in Las Vegas as ‘work’), and then be lavishly compensated. Often, the only heavy lifting they do all week is picking up their paychecks.

When government employees mobbed the state capitol in Wisconsin last year, the upside was: They got to bully people. The downside: Voters finally found out what these public servants were being paid.

Their compensation included not only straight salary, but also lavish overtime benefits, pensions, health care plans, sick days and vacation time (most of which they spent protesting).

The unions thought they could fight back against Gov. Scott Walker's tiny rollbacks without anyone finding out the details. Most people saw what public employees were getting and assumed it was a misprint.

Two years ago, seven bus drivers in Madison, Wis., made more than $100,000 a year.”
Ann Coulter

“State and local government workers today are not exploited in sweat shop conditions for poverty wages as the workers in union lore of old. Today it is taxpayers who are the ones being exploited.”

Education is easily the most important social equalizer in our society, yet there is no evidence that Wisconsin's previous levels of retirement and health-care funding for teachers improved student performance. Many factors harm student performance—including that we don't fire our worst teachers and don't reward our best, thanks to union contracts that forbid merit-based compensation and block the dismissal of teachers except in rare circumstances.

Recalling Gov. Walker and reinstating collective-bargaining rights would guarantee a tax hike to pay astronomical, pre-Walker-level health and retirement benefits to union members. Local governments would have to continue fighting in front of arbitrators to exert any semblance of control over their workforce. And big labor would be able to exert more control over politicians and dictate reform on its terms—which is virtually no reform at all.

If politicians nationwide see Mr. Walker as a cautionary tale, what will happen on the inevitable day when we have to tell seniors that they must contribute more toward Medicare or wait until age 68 to receive Social Security? Will the AARP run those people out of office too?”
The Wall Street Journal

“If the American Dream is to remain available to working people, and not just bureaucrat aristocrats, then Scott Walker must survive the recall, and his reforms must remain intact.  That means patriots across America must respond to this Paul Revere moment with maximum possible support for the Walker campaign… Or what was won at Lexington and Concord 237 years ago will be lost in Madison this year.”


UPDATE: AP coverage of Walker, Barrett recall visits lacks sense of direction and fairness

UPDATE: What you don't know about Scott Walker and Tom Barrett

UPDATE: If Walker wins, what are the lessons?

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