Stephanie's Political Arena

Critiques and Perspectives on National Politics and More

State of Budgeting Chaos

with 2 comments

The view from the third floor office in which I work.

It isn’t everyday that your employer is featured on nearly every national news network and media outlet imaginable, so I will devote a brief posting on the events unfolding in Madison, Wisconsin as we speak.  I must disclose that I generally do not discuss Wisconsin politics on this blog as I believe it would be a conflict of interest given that I am employed by the state (while attending graduate school at the same time – which is definitely a challenge).  I will make an exception at this time given the circumstances.

From The New York Times, to Politico, to Fox News, to CNN, and many more, virtually the entire nation is now familiar with the massive protests that have taken place throughout the week in and around Wisconsin’s capitol building.  Additionally, my fellow legislative staffers and I have been dealing with hundreds of phone calls and thousands of e-mail messages as well as impromptu “meetings” with the protesters as they make their way to Assembly and Senate offices demanding to “kill the bill.” The protests began in response to Governor Scott Walker’s introduction of Special Session Senate Bill 11, also known as the Budget Repair Bill needed to fill a nearly $200 million shortfall for the current fiscal biennium that ends on June 30th this year, and also address a projected $3.6 billion deficit in the 2011-2013 state budget cycle.  

Included in the 144-page document are concessions that unionized state employees will be required to make once the bill is signed into law.  Among them are changes to collective bargaining rights and increases in contributions to their pensions (5.8 percent for 2011, which is in line with the national average for the private sector) and health insurance plans (at least 12 percent of the monthly premiums, which is less than half of what private sector employees pay for their plans).  These changes alone are expected to save the state $30 million through June 30th, though they have also proved to be the most contentious components of the Budget Repair bill.

Demonstrating complete disregard for the legislative process as well as their obligations as elected officials, the Democratic members of the State Senate left the Capitol and headed down to Rockford, Illinois in boycotting the scheduled vote on the Budget Repair bill that was to take place on Thursday.   At this point, it’s uncertain if the Assembly will instead take up the measure or wait until the Democratic Senators are brought back to the Capitol and the Senate reconvenes to vote on the measure.  Stay tuned to those national headlines for updates on Wisconsin’s budget repair progress.

The view of the Capitol rotunda from the third floor

 

Continuing into the night...

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Written by Stephanie

February 18, 2011 at 6:49 am

2 Responses

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  1. You are absolutely right, Stephanie, that this is a national stage at the moment and citizens of Wisconsin should all do their best to shine a light on the issues. I’m glad you’re making an exception from your usual blog focus to do so.

    Deborah Blum

    February 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    • Thank you, Deb. Yeah, it’s definitely made life interesting at my job, that’s for sure. Yet, in the process I managed to gain a new contact – Stephen Hayes of the Wall Street Journal. He had mentioned my boss in a recent column of his (WEAC protesters picketed in front of her home on a Sunday afternoon when all of this first began; fortunately, someone tipped off her husband so he and their two small children could “evacuate” in time). I wrote him an e-mail commending him on a job well done with his column and he wrote me back to say thank you and that he is actually from Wisconsin originally (Wauwatosa). Very interesting…

      Stephanie

      March 1, 2011 at 2:36 am


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