Since our new governor has taken office, I have been impressed by the way he has been able to lure like-minded politicians to establish a number of business-friendly bills in such a short time frame. Creation of a new economic development entity to replace the Department of Commerce and tax breaks for small business owners have made the Badger State a better place to own a business.
When Governor Walker campaigned for public workers to pay more for health care and retirement benefits, I was also on board. After all, I pay about 25 percent of my gross wages for my health care and I have not been able to afford injecting more dollars into my retirement plan because of the sluggish economy. So why shouldn't state workers pay more to help fill the $137 milion deficit in the current state budget and an estimated $3.6 billion deficit in the 20011-13 biennial budget?
I have never been in a union, nor do I believe that I will ever become a union member. However, I believe some union organizations are important and provide balance and structure within the business community. And now that the state's largest unions have agreed to pay more for their health insurance and retirement plans, I think it's time for Walker to step back from his demands and negotiate in good faith. The state can't afford to give 1,500 union members a pink slip and lose the associated spending power in local economies.
As more information became available as to how the governor intended to accomplish his goal of balancing the state's budget, I became leery of the whole process. In my opinion, a governor should be the state's biggest chearleader. Tommy Thompson was very good in that role. But I don't think it behooves our state's elected leader to become fodder for the national media and, at times, make a fool of himself (i.e. while on "Meet the Press " last Sunday morning).
As Governor Walker and his fellow Republicans began to wage war on the state's unions, it became evident to me that Walker is using his pedestal in Madison for a higher elected office in the future. There may be a time in the when this debate can resurface, but the political posturing should stop. Rather than wasting valuable time and energy, and missing a deadline to refinance $165 million of debt, it's time for Walker to pull back the reigns and do what's best for the state now.
FOR THE RECORD: I want to apologize for not being able to publish The Bottom Line for the past three weeks. Due to a personal matter, I was unable to meet the weekly obligation. Only one other time in 22 years have I missed a deadline. I am hopeful it is another 22 years before I am forced to take another unplanned sabattical. Thanks to all of you who expressed concern.