Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
My friend and colleague, Christian Schneider writes an excellent analysis of Governor Walker’s reforms in the City Journal. Here’s an excerpt:
By the time Walker took office in 2011, the overwhelming majority of state and local government workers paid nothing toward the annual contributions to their pension accounts, which equaled roughly 10 percent of their salaries per year. The average employee also used just 6.2 percent of his salary on his health-insurance premium. Among Walker’s reforms, therefore, was requiring employees to start paying 5.8 percent of their salaries, on average, toward their pensions and to double their health-insurance payments to 12.4 percent of their salaries. These two changes, Walker estimated, would save local governments $724 million annually, letting him cut state aid to localities and reduce Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion biennial deficit.
These measures angered unions, but Walker’s other moves were even more controversial. One was to allow government employees to bargain collectively only when negotiating wages; in other areas, collective bargaining would no longer be part of the contract-making process. The unions screamed bloody murder, decrying the loss of what they called their “right” to collective bargaining. “We are prepared to implement the financial concessions proposed to help bring our state’s budget into balance, but we will not be denied our God-given right to join a real union,” said Marty Beil, head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, back in February. “We will not—I repeat we will not—be denied our rights to collectively bargain.”
What had the unions most up in arms, however, was a reform that ended mandatory dues for members. Wisconsin unions were collecting up to $1,100 per member per year in these obligatory payments, which they then spent on getting sympathetic politicians elected. In the last two elections, for instance, the state’s largest teachers’ union spent $3.6 million supporting candidates. Walker’s reform meant that government workers could now opt out of paying these dues—savings that could help offset those workers’ newly increased health and pension payments, the governor said. The unions knew that, given the option, many of their members would indeed choose not to write a check—and that this would strangle union election spending.
The unions’ battle against Walker’s reforms has rested on the argument that the changes would damage public services beyond repair. The truth, however, is that the reforms not only are saving money already; they’re doing so with little disruption to services.
Now, must see video. It was captured by the MacIver Institute at an Americans For Prosperity town hall meeting in Waukesha this month. Listen to the comments of one state employee.