Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fun with Federalism

Chances are you've heard the various states termed "laboratories of democracy" or somesuch. My home state of Wisconsin is taking a very different approach than two of its neighbors right now and it's going to be a fascinating thing.

Wisconsin's new governor, Republican Scott Walker, is not showing state employees a lot of love:

Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that thousands of state workers would be laid off if the Legislature does not adopt his budget fix that cuts public worker benefits and takes away almost all union bargaining rights from public workers.

A Walker aide confirmed that the benefit reductions would cost the average state worker thousands of dollars a year, or roughly 8% of his or her salary.

Walker also signaled that in a larger budget plan coming later this month he would trim aid to municipalities and let local officials deal with those cuts at least in part through savings on public employee costs.

Meanwhile, here in Minnesota, our new Governor, Brave Sir Mark Dayton, vetoed a spending bill with actual cuts:

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday quickly vetoed the first bill to reach his desk, a Republican budget-cutting measure that the Senate had passed just three hours earlier.

No one should have been surprised. The new Democratic governor had signaled for weeks that he opposed the approach taken by the House and Senate Republican

The bill would have cut state spending by $901 million over the next two years, making a down payment on plugging a projected $6.2 billion budget shortfall.

And on Wisconsin's southern flank, in January the lame duck Illinois legislature gave its residents a massive increase in the state income tax:

Patrick J. Quinn, the governor of Illinois and a Democrat, praised the decision of state lawmakers — in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday — to raise the individual income tax rate by about 66 percent as a necessity to avert the state’s “fiscal emergency,” which includes a budget deficit of more than $13 billion, about $8 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, pharmacies and others, and a sinking bond rating.

So, at this time in 2013, which state is going to be in the best shape among the three? Which will be in the worst shape? Place your bets in the comment section.


CousinDan 54915 said...

I bet on Wisconsin.

Diamond Jim Doyle's lack of fiscal control for two terms needs to be addressed aggressively. With a sister as a public employee, it's hard to be too vocal, but if she got merit pay and the chaff was tossed, she would get more than enough to make up for the cuts and society would be better off with a higher level of performance. But the union will not support that as they protect the lowest common denominator.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

So there are three distinct situations: Republican control (Wisconsin), divided control (Minnesota), Democrat control (Illinois.) That's the order of choosing. Democrats are fundamentally incapable of financial responsibility. Republicans can manage it once in awhile.

Clearly, the governor in Wisconsin is getting down to business. It's Christie-esque.

Mr. D said...


It's a dilemma for me, too, as my sister works for the State of Wisconsin and is almost certainly going to be looking at a significant financial haircut. The problem is, I'm not sure it could be avoided.

CousinDan 54915 said...

Mr. D:

Our sisters are just part of many structural changes that are necessary to rebound from the larcenous leadership of Jim Doyle. I feel for them personally but see this as one of many changes that will impact every citizen of Wisconsin. Walker has no choice but to start cleaning up Doyle's mess. Ever wonder why Doyle didn't run again?

Gino said...

in CA, gov brow has threatened to cut everything, EXCEPT the cost of public employees and schools (same thing).
but, they own him, it was to be expected.
and he asking for a tax increase.
i think our deficit is 40-something billion. its insane.
after a while all those zeros just blur toegther and it not even money anymore.