In January, the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported that the state would face a $137 million shortfall before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The governor's budget repair bill proposes a debt restructuring that would save the state $165 million in the near term, more than covering the shortfall.The legislation would also borrow money from a federal welfare program to cover further state shortfalls, and it includes a provision that would allow the sale of the state's public utilities without a bidding process or public oversight.While public unions have agreed to almost $30 million in pay cuts this year if they can keep their bargaining rights, Walker and other Republicans argue that restrictions on union bargaining are necessary to maintain the cuts over time.
In the medium term, of course, pension obligations to public sector union employees do weigh on state budgets. Rather than outlaw unions, many states and cities have moderately restructured these contracts to require employees to pay more now and/or expect less later. This is an important discussion for states and municipalities to have. But marching for the end of bargaining laws under the banner of 2012 deficit reduction is disingenuous. Read the full story at NJ.