Walker introduces budget repair bill

Governor Walker started to the process of returning Wisconsin to fiscal stability Friday with the introduction of his budget repair bill.

“We must take immediate action to ensure fiscal stability in our state,” said Governor Walker. “This budget repair bill will meet the immediate needs of our state and give government the tools to deal with this and future budget crises.”

The state of Wisconsin is facing an immediate deficit of $137 million for the current fiscal year which ends July 1. In addition, bill collectors are waiting to collect over $225 million for a prior raid of the Patients’ Compensation Fund.

The budget repair bill will balance the budget and lay the foundation for a long-term sustainable budget through several measures without raising taxes, raiding segregated funds, or using accounting gimmicks.

In order to accomplish long-term sustainability without using gimmicks, raiding segregated funds or raising taxes tough decisions are needed.  Governor Walker did that in his proposal.  Among the highlights of his proposal getting the publicity is a requirement of state employees to pay more towards pension and health insurance costs.

First, it will require state employees to pay about 5.8% toward their pension (about the private sector national average) and about 12% of their healthcare benefits (about half the private sector national average). These changes will help the state save $30 million in the last three months of the current fiscal year.

“It’s fair to ask public employees to make a pension payment of just over 5%, which is about the national average, and a premium payment of 12%, which is about half of the national average,” said Governor Walker.

Other changes proposed include changing some provisions in the collective bargaining law & reforms regarding “union dues.”

The state’s civil service system, among the strongest in the country, would remain in place. State and local employees could continue to bargain for base pay, they would not be able to bargain over other compensation measures. Local police, fire and state patrol would be exempted from the changes. Other reforms will include state and local governments not collecting union dues, annual certification will be required in a secret ballot, and any employee can opt out of paying union dues.

Governor Walker realized that “Now is the time” with a bold proposal for setting Wisconsin & municipalities back onto the path of long-term fiscal stability.  Now the question is will the State Legislature be willing to stand up to unions and pass it?

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