Budgets and the state worker (5×8 – 2/16/11)

Should state workers lose union rights, open season or self defense in South Dakota, innuendo explored, photographing a fading winter, and pillows at 10 paces.


How many other states are keeping an eye on what’s happening in Wisconsin? All night long the Legislature’s budget committee held a public hearing on whether government workers should be stripped of their collective bargaining rights.

“We will listen to you as long as it takes,” said Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) at 3:30 a.m. So the hearing will resume today. Forty-percent of the teachers in the Madison school district called in sick today, so they could continue a rally. The entire school system was subsequently shut down.

The pending bill would require most public workers to pay half their pension costs — typically 5.8% of pay for state workers — and at least 12% of their health care costs. It applies to most state, local and school employees, but does not apply to police, firefighters and state troopers, who would continue to bargain for their benefits.

Other than police, firefighters and troopers, raises would be limited to inflation unless a bigger increase was approved in a referendum. The non-law enforcement unions would lose their rights to bargain over anything but wages, would have to hold annual elections to keep their organizations intact and would lose the ability to have union dues deducted from state paychecks.

This is all intended to help balance the state’s budget. But it does tend to pit state worker against state worker. Why, for example, shouldn’t a police officer or firefighter share in the sacrifice if a teacher does?

A comment attached to that union video, however, shows the depth of feeling on both sides. “People need to wake up and start paying their own way and get off the backs of the private sector that has been getting **** by Doyle for years. Where… were you when it’s all good, when it’s working out in your benefit and others are getting bent over and paying 90% of your benefits?” it said.



On the other side of our western border, there’s another interesting piece of legislation IS getting some attention. South Dakota is considering a bill that would allow the killing of someone in defense of an unborn child. Critics are saying it’s a license to kill abortion providers. The sponsor says it has nothing to do with abortion. It’s about self defense.


Why do we use innuendo to get our points across rather than just say what we want to communicate? Everyone knows what’s being said. Why don’t we just say it? This new video steps oh so close to the land of the passive aggressive.


Today’s entry in News Cut’s invitation to provide a single picture to describe the current state of winter comes from Jeff Jorgensen of Brooklyn Park. “I took this photo just below the Coon Rapids Dam in Brooklyn Park. The water has been high all winter due to ice jams and when the river broke up this week some amazing ice was revealed. It’s a bit hard to tell from the photos but those ice chunks are about 10 feet thick,” he reports.



They had the annual pillow fight in San Francisco the night before last. Nobody actually organizes this, but it happens anyway.

Bonus: When People Do Good (cont’d). When members of the armed forces are deployed, it’s often up to the parent left behind to care for their children. But what happens when both parents deploy? Would you move hundreds of miles to help one family? One woman did.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: While researching her best-selling book “Seabiscuit,” Laura Hillenbrand stumbled across an article on Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who endured incredible hardships during World War II. She reached out to him and forged a connection that she chronicles in her latest book.

Second hour: The fall of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt has led to unrest in other Middle Eastern countries. Will the spread of pro-Democracy protest topple other leaders?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Both hours:Stephen Smith and Kate Ellis present highlights from “Say it Loud: Great Speeches on Civil Rights and African American Identity.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Ron Paul wins the CPAC Straw poll, Mitt Romney leads all Republicans and President Obama in New Hampshire, Senator John Kyl won’t run again in Arizona, and Political Junkie Ken Rudin runs the numbers with Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Second hour: TBA

  • jon

    I’m sorry, how exactly would you go about attempting to slaughter an unborn child with out the mothers consent with out also attempting to cause some sort of bodily harm (or possibly rape) against the mother?

    Doesn’t this mean that the self defense was the mother defending her self (as well as the unborn child)

  • Bob Collins
  • vjacobsen

    My ethics and values don’t allow for killing anyone, ever. Period. And I do look down on people who can justify taking another person’s life.

    I have a friend in Madison, and there was a Facebook discussion about the WI Governor’s plan. My response to anyone working in the private sector who’s mad about the lack of raises, reduction in health care, etc?


  • Mike

    I grow very tired of all the arguing and antics that happen here in our own state, but I am so thankful not to live in our neighboring states. An island of Reasonable surrounded by a sea of Ridiculous.

  • Andrew

    It seems pretty straightforward: statewide police, firefighter, and trooper organization

    supported Walker’s gubernatorial campaign.

    Wisconsin had a “What’s the Matter with Kansas” vote in 2010, no question about it.

  • Joanna

    Divide and conquer, folks. While working people are being pitted against each other over crumbs, or we are busy arguing about why South Dakotans shouldn’t be given the green light to murder doctors, we aren’t talking about how much money has been diverted out of the funding stream by two costly wars, or for bailouts to companies that stiffed us in the financial industry’s greed-a-thon, or how the wealthiest still have managed to reduce their overall tax burden while the rest of us see our income cut from every side by rising health care costs, property taxes, fees, and cuts in basic services.

    How many children are homeless and hungry right now in MN? how many people will lose their heat next winter because of Washington budget cuts? how many Pell grants are going to disappear, forcing the poor to give up dreams of education? It’s obscene that public employees are being made scapegoats while the real financial predators are wealthier than ever.


  • Jamie

    Wow, Joanne. I don’t have write anything now.

    That video is really inspiring. I hope we have what it takes to protest like that when the time comes.

  • Heather

    What Joanna said.

    And Mike, you sound ridiculous.

  • Heather

    What Joanna said.

    And Mike, you have Michelle Bachmann. I’m just sayin’.

  • Jamie

    “”People need to wake up and start paying their own way and get off the backs of the private sector that has been getting **** by Doyle for years. Where… were you when it’s all good, when it’s working out in your benefit and others are getting bent over and paying 90% of your benefits?”

    I guess I have to write something else. What this guy says is typical Republican rhetoric and it’s false. It’s meant to, as Joanna said, pit us against one another, and to spread general resentment through lies about those damn gummint workers! Public sector workers DO “pay their own way.” It’s not like they’re receiving public assistance (“welfare”), as this quote intimates. That’s the association that Republicans want us to make.

    There are a few slackers, just as there are in the private sector, but most work very hard to keep our states and municipalities running smoothly. They deserve the benefits they receive.

    Most public sector workers, who provide valuable services to us all, pay into their retirement accounts (State of MN workers pay 50%) and pay premiums, co-pays, and deductibles for their health insurance. Most do not get big pensions, either. There are often a few unrepresentative stories that come to light about the retired county administrator who gets a couple hundred-thousand dollar annual pension or something, but those are not typical.

  • Noelle

    I am so appalled and angry at what’s happening in Wisconsin right now. My parents are both teachers there, and with this bill, they’d have to pay over $500 more out of pocket just for their healthcare.

    This, coming from a governor that didn’t even complete his college degree. Makes me sick.

  • 4!

    ///It’s obscene that public employees are being made scapegoats while the real financial predators are wealthier than ever.

    Nice comment Joanna.

    I think that a really good article-Bob- would be about solutions to the problems that Joanna mentioned.

    How do we put an end to the money extracting beast behind the scene?

  • Erica

    What Joanna said; way more eloquently and intelligently than I could have. That really is something that needs to be addressed and something that we should all be concerned about.

    That being said, I do not feel that any public worker should get a ‘full ride’ for pension, health care, etc. From experience, I have learned that when one is at least partly financially responsible for these things, they make better decisions (as in the case of health and health care). I believe they should at least have to contribute a portion, as do most of us in the private sector.

    I do not know, and did not check into what the current benefits etc are in WI, so maybe they already do contribute a portion, as someone stated that public workers in MN do.

  • BJ

    I’m confused. The one commentor said that there parents would have to pay $500 more for health insurance, that means that the state pays $500 less? Or does it mean that the state is paying the same but the price of health insurance went up and costs $500 more.

    Most people with health insurance have no idea what it costs. My wife’s employeer used to send out a yearly ‘total pay’ report. It showed all the benifits and taxes that they paid for my wife. At the time it was about $88,000 for my wife grossing about $47,000.

    The Union had a fit, they put in the next contract that the employeer couldn’t do that any more. The Union wanted the employees to not know what things cost when being paid by the employeer. It makes the ‘we don’t get enough’ song sound flat, if employees know the truth.

    I’m guessing that if the district had to vote to Unionize today, that 60% wouldn’t.

    “Forty-percent of the teachers in the Madison school district called in sick today”

  • Jamie

    “At the time it was about $88,000 for my wife grossing about $47,000.

    Those must be some hefty benefits your wife was getting. Or else they were padding the alleged total with things they were stretching to CLAIM were “benefits” or costs for employees (maybe that’s why the union got upset). Most employers don’t spend almost another 100% of a worker’s salary for benefits. I think it’s more like 20%. And I think it’s not unusual these days for employers to show the total cost of each employee either on their paychecks or in a quarterly report or something. My last two employers have done it.

  • Erica

    At the time it was about $88,000 for my wife grossing about $47,000

    Maybe he meant the TOTAL cost to the company was $$88k per year to employ his wife, meaning she was grossing $47K, but with benefits and taxes she cost them $88K/year?

  • Erica

    Ummm, yeah, ignore my last comment 😀

    Need a delete comment button for when my fingers type before my brain thinks!! LOL

  • Jamie

    Yeah, I did one of those above, too. A typo AND calling Joanna ‘Joanne’ in one post.

  • bj

    Yes my wife has a VERY nice benefit package. Most people don’t know or forget that our SS tax is 15%, with employee covering 1/2 and employeer covering the other half. I believe that they are not allowed to show the employeer half on pay stub, but can in other reports. I could be wrong, I have never seen it on pay stubs.

    We pay about $125 per month for a family of 4 in healthcare. On the ‘free market’ it would cost us $600-900 or more per month. We pay $15 per month for dental. We have life insurance (about $150,000 on wife and $50,000 on me) and many many other great benefits.