Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Rush Limbaugh, and their allies are claiming that Walker's union-busting has miraculously started working to alleviate budget problems immediately
. The basis of their claim is a single school district that says it has turned a $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus.
But as Greg Sargent points out:
But here’s the thing: The collective bargaining ban, in and of itself, was not responsible for achieving these savings and this surplus. As the Appleton Post Crescent reports, the teachers union had already offered up financial concessions that would have produced almost identical savings and an almost identical surplus.
Walker's union-busting was always about union-busting, not about cost savings; the fact that he persisted in eliminating collective bargaining after public employee unions made financial concessions is really all the evidence you need of that.
Also, that's one school district. What's happening elsewhere in the state? Reuters reports that Racine and Milwaukee, for instance, will be forced to do things like lay off workers and stop buying textbooks. Measures like that, not $1.5 million surpluses, are what most Wisconsin school districts are seeing. In fact, here's what the state superintendent of schools says:
"We have heard that districts have the 'tools' to make up for these cuts, and that classrooms shouldn't be impacted," he said in testimony before Joint Finance on March 31. "Quite frankly, I don't think the numbers add up, and many school district officials from around the state agree. ... According to published reports from La Crosse to Green Bay, Milwaukee to Reedsburg, districts all across our state are preparing to make deep cuts this coming school year, and far deeper ones in 2012-2013."
Evers stands by that assertion, made back in late March. "Overall, I would guess that it's going to be 50 to 60 percent of the districts that will still be looking at making cuts in staff or programs this year, despite the so-called tools," Evers says. Many districts will find themselves in worse shape next year, he adds.
But don't expect Walker or Limbaugh to be broadcasting this reality any time soon.