Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So Now What Happens?

Despite what many thought, the state's new collective bargaining law has gone into effect--and the sun still came up this morning.  The first day in the rest of the history of Wisconsin is here and the big question is: "Now what happens?"

I'll be interested to see just how "draconian" this law turns out to be.  I think the effect will be very parochial--with the determination coming from what kind of local leaders we elect.  We got a bit of a foreshadowing of that with the way many school boards, city councils and county boards rushed to sign one year extensions of current contracts with their unions--thereby voluntarily foregoing the "tools" included in the bill to lower expenses.

For county employees, much of the impact will be determined by County Executives and Administrators.  It's a pretty safe bet that Winnebago, Outagamie and Dane county employees will be "protected" by their left-leaning bosses--while more conservative leaders in Fond du Lac, Waukesha most of Northern Wisconsin will be even more frugal.

City employees will probaby face the tightest purse strings.  Most councils are made up of local business owners who are familiar with working with budgets and controlling expenses--while many Mayors worked in the private sector as well.  Here in Oshkosh, with the influence of the university and "political activists" currently on the Council, I doubt such cost-savings will be aggressively sought.

The safest harbor for public employees now will likely be school districts.  Let's just say that sympathy for the "plight" of the union worker runs strongest with superintendents and on school boards throughout the state.  Consider the Green Bay School Board earlier this week falling all over each other to "apologize" for requiring teachers to stay an extra half hour a day for collaboration.  Shouldn't they have learned from the far more "enlightened" Oshkosh School District that the way to improve education isn't to keep teachers in the building longer--but rather to send the kids home earlier?  And speaking of the Oshkosh School Board, it's a pretty safe bet that, again, with the University and union leadership influence it will make sure that things remain "fair" for 1400 "inside" the system--and not so much for the 70-thousand on the "outside".

So what will be the impact of the collective bargaining law for the vast majority of us in Wisconsin?  I guess we'll find out every December when we get our property tax bills--and every April 15th when we pay our state income taxes.

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