Scott Walker insists there are two choices. Either break the unions in the name of saving money on health insurance and pensions, or massive layoffs. He said last night that unless his union-busting bill passes, some 1,500 public employees will lose their jobs by June with 5,000 to 6,000 more layoffs will be necessary in the next fiscal year. Pick your poison.
That's one whopper of a false choice.
Even if you count state employee costs that are federally funded or otherwise not paid for with general state taxes, total salary and fringe benefit costs for those workers account for less than a fifth of the overall state budget.
Walker's saying you either have to strip workers of their rights or a bunch of them will have to lose their jobs, but he's walling off over four-fifths of the budget and refusing to even acknowledge the countless potential budget-trimming options that lie therein.
The real menu of options also includes raising revenues in some way. Or at least not further cutting corporate taxes when the majority of companies already are not paying any. Just a few weeks ago Walker and his allies in the Legislature rammed through $67 million in new business tax breaks. Those could be delayed or, better yet, repealed.
Wisconsin has a broad array of real options to choose from, ones that would spread the sacrifice much more broadly than the phony either-or ultimatum Scott Walker has laid out.