MacIver News Service | October 29, 2012
[Madison, Wisc...] Act 10 has already saved Wisconsin state and local governments more than two billion dollars, according to an analysis released today by the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy.
All of this, however, could be in jeopardy the MacIver Institute warns.
By ruling that parts of Wisconsin Act 10 are unconstitutional and refusing to stay his decision, Dane County Judge Juan Colas has driven a wedge between taxpayers and fiscally responsible policies that have already proven successful in the Badger state.
The savings Wisconsin has enjoyed as a result of the Act 10 are undeniable. Instead of deficits totaling billions of dollars and crushing debt that threatens the state's long-term financial security, taxpayers in Wisconsin have seen more than two billion dollars in reduced expenditures. In addition, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau is projecting a budget surplus in 2013 for Wisconsin.
"These reforms have provided Wisconsin families with much-needed property tax relief, protected vital services for our most vulnerable citizens and saved jobs for teachers and public safety workers across the state," said Brett Healy, President of the MacIver Institute. "Now, one man in Madison has put all of this is doubt."
Because he's injected himself into the legislative process, Judge Colas is threatening to undo policies that have benefitted Wisconsinites from Beloit to Superior and everywhere in between.
Before refusing to set aside his ruling, Colas also refused to hear concerns from local governments on this matter.
"There's less money coming from the state, and we don't have the ability to tax more," Attorney Andy Phillips told the MacIver News Service. "So every dollar we have to spend on personnel, we have to cut from somewhere else."
Phillips provides legal counsel to 40 counties, and he has asked Judge Colas to accept an amicus brief on behalf of Wisconsin County Mutual Insurance Corporation and the Community Insurance Corporation, of which more than half the state's counties are members.
The counties want Judge Colas to stay his decision until the fate of Act 10 is determined in higher courts. Under the current situation, counties are finding it nearly impossible to plan their budgets and deal with the unions. In the brief, Phillips argues that Colas essentially rewrote Act 10 in order to strike it down.
"The Act 10 that existed prior to the Court's decision is not the same legislation as the Act 10 that exists following the Court's decision," the brief reads. "By virtue of its decision, the Court essentially rewrote the legislation to impose collective bargaining obligations the legislature clearly never intended."
Phillips states that the judge's decision could put local governments across the state in financial jeopardy.
"Limiting collective bargaining freed counties, municipalities and school districts to make necessary changes to costly benefit packages such as health insurance and other programs without having to provide a quid pro quo for the changes," the brief reads. "This, in turn, facilitated the ability of counties, municipalities and school districts to maintain employment levels while still meeting the ever-increasing service demands of their taxpayers and citizenry."
If left standing by actions of higher courts, the overturn of Act 10 means local governments will have to lay off employees or cut services.
Already, unions and organized labor groups are rushing to re-open and renegotiate existing labor agreements at the expense of labor contracts that have benefitted taxpayers for almost two years.
Act 10 Savings Through October 2012
For more information, contact Sean Lansing: 1.608.237.7290