“In nearly every state across America, Governors are facing major budget deficits. Many, Democrat and Republican alike, are cutting state aid to schools and other local governments – which will force massive layoffs, massive property tax increases or both.
In Wisconsin, we are doing something progressive in the best sense of the word. We are implementing reforms to protect middle class jobs and middle class taxpayers. While our idea may be a bold political move it is a very modest request of our employees.
We are reforming the bargaining system so our state and local governments can ask employees to contribute 5.8% for pension and 12.6% for health insurance premiums. These reforms will help them balance their budgets. In total, our reforms save local governments more than $700 million each year.
Most workers outside of government would love our proposal. Over the past several months, I have visited numerous factories and small businesses across Wisconsin. On these tours, workers tell me that they pay anywhere from 15% to 50% of their health insurance premium costs. The average middle class worker is paying more than 20% of his or her premium.
Even federal employees pay more than twice what we are asking state and local government workers to pay and most of them don’t have collective bargaining for wages or benefits. These facts beg the question as to why the protesters are in Wisconsin and not in Washington, D.C. By nearly any measure, our requests are quite reasonable.
Beyond helping to balance current and future budgets, our reforms will improve the quality of our governments. No longer will hiring and firing be done solely based on seniority and union contracts. Instead, schools – as well as state and local governments – will be able to make decisions based on merit and performance….”
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