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Newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) took office facing an $8 billion state budget shortage. In addition to winning the governorship, Republicans also won lots of seats in Wisconsin's state legislature during last fall's elections, giving the GOP effective control of state government. That's the way democracy goes, somebody wins and somebody loses.
In order to close the budget gap, Walker and his fellow Republicans brought a budget repair bill forward for a vote in the Wisconsin Senate. That bill required public employee union members to contribute to their own healthcare and pensions, just like most private sector employees do. It also ended most of the collective bargaining rights of public employees. It allowed the state to decide the salaries the state should pay it's union workers, like the government does with it's non-union employees, and like about 90% of the companies in America do.
That's when Wisconsin Democrats decided they'd had enough of this democracy stuff. Democracy might be fine for Egypt and the Middle East, but not in Wisconsin. Hell no. Wisconsin Democrats fled from the vote on the budget bill and went into hiding, holding themselves hostage. I'm NOT kidding. These self-kidnapping Democrats even put forth a list of demands to be met before they'd release themselves. From the Daily Caller:
State Senator Mark Miller, a member of the missing band of Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers who fled Madison Thursday to avoid a vote on a budget bill, called into CNN with the group’s list of demands for Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Miller, a state senator since 2004, would not disclose where he and his colleagues were hiding out, saying only “we are in what we consider a secure location outside the capital. We are not all in one place at this time.” [Isn't that simply precious ? The Democrats are pretending they're in a Hollywood espionage thriller. Sorta like Patty Hearst meets Dumb And Dumber].
Miller’s demands focused on the collective bargaining portions of the bill.
“We demand that the provisions that completely eliminate the ability of workers… to negotiate on a fair basis with their employers be removed from the budget repair bill and any other future budget,” Miller said.
He also demanded legislative oversight on changes to the state’s medical programs, which are targeted for changes in the bill. The bill would also require union members to contribute to their health care and pensions.
Miller and 13 other Democrats went missing Thursday morning when a vote on a budget-repair measure was imminent in the Republican-controlled Senate. It would have passed the Senate after getting out of committee on a party-line vote late last night, so Democrats left the building to stall a vote on the measure.
Republicans may win elections, but Wisconsin Democrats know that doesn't mean Republicans can actually pass legislation via the legislature !!! The nerve of those Republicans ! Don't they know democracy only works when Democrats win ??? I guess they don't, the extremists, so Democrats had no choice but to subvert the democratic process in Wisconsin. After all, this voice of the people stuff wasn't meant to contradict the wishes of the Democratic party. Heavens to Betsy ! Imagine where that would lead. People might start thinking they were free to do all kinds of things. They might start (shiver) thinking for themselves. Oh, the horror.
Sen. Miller, spokesman for the democracy hijackers, reiterated the point about how the majority Republicans have no right to bring forth legislation for a vote in the Wisconsin Senate unless Democrats approve of said legislation:
“We will return to do our job, but the governor has to do his job,” Miller said. “He has to engage in responsible negotiations with the interested parties and he failed to do so…We need to be able to enter into a responsible dialogue and not one that is such a sham.”
Then Miller, being a Democrat, did what liberals generally do. He portrayed the exact opposite of the truth as the truth:
Miller maintained that, by leaving Madison to evade a vote on the budget-repair bill, the lawmakers are “ trying to allow an opportunity for democracy to work.”
Riiiiight. Running away and hiding from a scheduled vote in the legislature and threatening to hold your breath until you get your way is what allows democracy to work. That's a new one. I'll file that away for future reference.
No word yet on what the democracy hijackers might do if their demands are not met, but a thousand members of Madison, Wisconsin's teachers union staged a one day illegal wildcat strike on wednesday, shutting down the public schools (because it's all about the children). Thousands of union members are protesting against Gov. Walker in Wisconsin, because they like the fact that public sector workers receive much higher pay and much better benefits than private sector workers do, even though private sector workers pay the salaries of public sector workers. They're just "fair" like that. Plus, they are better than the rest of us. They are TEACHERS (cue the choir of singing angels), and they work like dogs nine months out of the year to provide mediocre educations in our substandard public schools. They are nearly godlike, and that's why, among the advanced countries of the world, our students rank 33rd in reading skills, 27th in math skills, and 22nd in science skills. One of the only things we rank first in is the COST of our education system. We spend more than any other country to get our substandard results. Who wouldn't want to pay more for that ?
Correction 2/19/11 - I mistakenly stated that Wisconsin has an $8 billion budget deficit. That is incorrect. $8 billion is Ohio's deficit. The correct deficit figure for Wisconsin is $3.6 billion in it's next biannual budget. My apologies.