Posted by Brendan Fischer on February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker alleges that dismantling public sector collective bargaining rights is made necessary by a $3.6 billion deficit in the next budget, and a $137 million shortfall this year. Setting aside the fact that the ability to negotiate shifts, seniority, benefits and conditions of employment would have a negligible impact on the deficit, and looking beyond Walker's deceptive claim that the alternative to union-busting is to kick 200,000 children off Medicaid (called "false" by Politifact), how deep is the state's economic crisis?

Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has looked more closely at the numbers and writes that the $3.6 billion deficit is bogus. The alleged deficit is based on $3.9 billion in new agency requests for the 2011-2013 budget, a 7.2% spending increase. However, these are merely requests, not dollars actually allocated or spent, and Pocan writes that the legislature never votes to grant 100% of agency requests: "I don't think there is a member in the legislature that would vote for [the requested budget increase]. In fact, I asked [Legislative Fiscal Bureau] Director [Robert] Lang when was the last time we gave agencies exactly what they requested and was told he couldn't think of one and he's been here decades."

For example, the state's non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reports that the difference between the amount requested for the 2009-2011 budget and the amount actually allocated was almost $3.5 billion, a sum nearly identical to Walker's alleged "deficit" for the next budget cycle. State agencies had requested a 9.7% increase but were actually granted a reduction of 2.6%.

For this year's budget, any shortfalls are a direct result of Walker's policies. The Fiscal Bureau told legislators in January that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million. The $137 million deficit Walker uses as an excuse to crush collective bargaining results from the tax cuts and incentives Walker has pushed through since taking office; this includes the loss of $48 million in revenue from private health savings account taxation, a move lauded by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce business lobby (who spent nearly $1 million on Walker's campaign).

Comments

i've been hearing about this all over the major media news channels and outlets for the last few days. just as i thought, we weren't getting the complete story - as is typical of the corporate controlled media. but, tonight i also heard that a few other new Republican governors are threatening and attempting the same tactic in their states - feeding the "we're bankrupt" lies to the electorate - their ultimate, and i believe conspiratorial (Republican Party conspiracy), goal is to destroy workers rights and collective bargaining rights throughout the country - at the behest of their large corporate buddies, lobbyists, and contributors. it's been a goal of the Republican Party for many decades and now i fear they see it within their sights!!! once again, the Republicans are spewing outright lies and propaganda to scare the American people into accepting their far right ideological agenda...just as they did in the health care reform debate.

I think you're right, but please do spell-check before posting. Adds credibility to your argument.

thx! I corrected the commentor's quick note.

who the hell 'spell checks' comments made on internet blog moron? maybe you could spend more enrgy focused on doing something constructive instead of badgering another commenter, moron...also:)

Thanks for breaking down the financial rouse being played out in Wisconsin. It's illuminating but no surprise.

The Wisconsin Governor's attempt to end collective bargaining across the State is not new. Since the signing of the NLRA, the corporate elite and their band of courtiers have sought to reverse the right to unionization and collective bargaining. They've made huge success in the private sector which has fallen from 30% unionized to 7%, in 30 years. Because of union busting in the south, many Americans have the "right to work" for much less than their northern neighbors. America's corporate tyrants now aim to test their greedy tactics on the public sector workers.

It is time for every American, regardless of party, race, gender or class to ask if American people have the right to band with their co-workers to join a union, engage in collective bargaining and have some measure of control of their only real commodity: their labor. Is this freedom one that we all deserve or should the corporate elite and their courtiers deny us this right? It's time to choose.

YES

YES YES YES. This is the REAL story. His outrageous "budget fix" proposals pale in comparison to the monstrous bald-faced lies he's telling in order to shove this agenda down Wisconsin's throat. I'm a student, I've been protesting this all week, but this is a vital part of the story that's been left out of most reports on the protests. His entire justification for these proposals is (to use Russ Feingold's phrase) "phony as a three-dollar bill."

PLEASE anyone who reads this REPOST! This story must be heard to expose Walker as the duplicitous political conniver that he is. We can rally and protest til the cows come home -- and we will! -- but as long as people believe Walker's scary fake-deficit story he'll be able to manipulate public opinion in his favor. Shout it from the rooftops!

This info needs to get out to the mainstream media. There are 5.6 million people in Wisconsin and a 137 million dollar shortfall after the deepest recession since 1929.That's less than $25 per person. Give me a break!

Bill Moyers presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.