It has become apparent to nearly anyone that what is going on in Wisconsin is more than a mere budget dispute. One side is fighting for its economic life; while the other are a bunch of Koch Brothers' financed, dishonest, union busting, corrupt politicians who will do anything to advance their agenda. A little too dramatic? Not really.
A new article in today's Milwaukee Journal highlights a specific ten lines in Gov. Walker's new, emergency budget bill that the rest of the media has either missed or ignored. A provision in the bill would allow the governor to "sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without the solicitation of bids."
Notice the "without the solicitation of bids part"? The bill allows the governor to sell publicly owned power plants to anyone at any price -- bids not required. Guess who is in the power plant business? Yep. The Koch brothers, the largest donors to Walker's 2010 campaign. So, if Walker gets the bill passed, he can then sell or contract any power plant in the state to his campaign donors for whatever price they ask. The public receives nothing for the sale of its publicly owned property, and the Koch Brothers get to dominate all the energy in Wisconsin.
So, let's see if I understand how this
scam scheme bill works. Gov. Walker gins up a fake budget "crisis" by claiming a massive budget shortfall (coincidentally this comes after Walker signed three Republican passed bills that flushed $140 million in tax giveaways to wealthy out-of-state corporations). When he cites a $140 million budget shortfall, and the non-partisan state budget office points out there was no shortfall before he took office and gave away the money, Walker claims the "real" deficit is actually $3 billion. Now, Walker and the Republicans claim that in order to avoid any layoffs and balance the budget, all public sector union workers (teachers, trash collectors, snow plow drivers, bus drivers, etc) must give up their right to bargain collectively, take a pay cut, and pay a higher share of their health care benefits and pension. The unions agree to the pay cut and the increased contributions, but not on the denial of collective bargaining rights. Walker and the GOP say no.
The Democrats who have fled the state to deny a necessary quorum for passage of the bill have vowed to stay away as long as it takes to make Walker come to the table to make a compromise. The collective bargaining issue is not actually a fiscal matter, and technically, the Republicans could vote for the entire rest of the bill - minus the collective bargaining restriction - without them. If it was strictly an issue of money, the vote could already be done. Obviously, this is not about the money. It's about destroying the unions and rewarding campaign contributors.
I guess giving away the state's most valuable assets to the Koch Brothers is just the cherry on top for Mr. Walker.