Monday, March 7, 2011

Shared Sacrifice

OK, I have finally reached the breaking point on state of Wisconsin employee salary and benefits.  I was reading Saturday's Wisconsin State Journal where it was reported that average salaries are projected to increase 3.8%.  An intrepid reporter could look back over the last 20 years and look at the average increase in private sector wages versus the increase in State employee salaries.  But, you know what it would show that with the exception of the last 2 years (we got 0% the private sector took big hits) the private sector wage increases have far outstripped the public sector wage increases.  Sure, you can make it look a little better by looking at benefits but the reality is that in the stuff that you can spend State workers have been losing ground for years.  What doesn't seem to be getting much press is the fact that we have already taken an effective 3% cut with the furloughs and that all powerful union that the public is afraid of couldn't stop it or get employees unemployment or make the government follow the labor law.  We are considered salaried except in weeks where we take a furlough day, labor law does not allow for your employment classification to change within a pay period.  Now we are willing to do our part again and take an effective 8% pay cut.  Don't get me wrong I'm thankful to have a job.  I work for the State because in my field there are not many jobs in this State.

The war on State workers is somewhat misguided.  There is very truly a belief that the budget can be balanced on the backs of the workers.  No it can't!  We could volunteer our time for a year and the budget wouldn't come into balance.  The solution is to decide what we need in this State and quit giving away the store to the real haves.  Then we need to figure out how to fund that, it might mean increases in taxes for the real haves but we keep hearing about shared sacrifice.  Right now the sacrifices are being felt by the State workers, the Governor has proposed taking more from the working poor but he has given more tax breaks for the "job creators" (a group of people who over the last 10 years have seen substantial tax reductions without creating anything except personal wealth).

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