The Guardian: Wisconsin: a pivotal moment for American unions

With the Republicans' dodge to deprive public employees of collective bargaining rights, the dispute enters a critical phase

March 10, 2011- Now, that's some kind of hardball out of the Wisconsin state senate last night. After weeks during which the governor said the collective bargaining bill was needed for the sake of getting the budget on track, the Republicans passed it under a rule stipulating that it could have no budgetary implications, just so they could get around the requirement for a quorum.

Which means they were able to pass it without any Democrats – but in doing so, exposed their true motivation, which is to weaken unions.

Does the bill as passed, in fact, have no budgetary implications? That seems like a tough case to make from what I've read. The version the state senate passed Wednesday night has the following provisions:

• changes to the earned income tax credit;
• a $79m reduction in the lapses required from the DOA secretary;
• $165m in debt restructuring;
• increasing funding for MA programmes to close funding gap through end of fiscal year;
• the sale of state power plants;
• increasing funding for Corrections to close gap through end of fiscal year;
• reallocation of group health and pharmacy benefit reserves;
• audit of dependent eligibility under benefit programmes

Those sound pretty fiscal to me. A friendly judge could well rule that since none of the above constitutes a net negative impact, it's all right. We will have to see.


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