Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

A firestorm in Wisconsin

A proposal by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to help close the state's $137 million budget shortfall prompted protests around the state.
A proposal by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to help close the state's $137 million budget shortfall prompted protests around the state.

It's not every day that a state's budget repair bill generates a firestorm of protestors, fierce criticism and widespread national media commentary. But not every budget repair bill is like the one under consideration in Wisconsin.

New Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the state Legislature are using their newfound control of government to force state employees to pay more toward pensions and health care by advancing wholesale changes to the Wisconsin's collective bargaining laws.

If the measure passes, public employee unions would be left only with the right to bargain over wages, and that would come with limits.

PolitiFact Wisconsin has been putting statements related to the issue to the test:

Walker's claim that he has the ability to sharply curtail unions was rated Mostly True; his statement about what state employees in Wisconsin pay compared to others was rated True; and his statement that one of the budget alternatives was to drop 200,000 kids from Medicaid was rated False.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee that Walker had threatened to use the National Guard to quell protests was rated Pants on Fire.

The claim by the state AFL-CIO that for thousand of workers the measure would "take away any say they have in the workplace and eliminate their union" was rated Half True; a claim by a key state Senator that in private sector unions the norm is to bargain only on wages was rated False; and a claim by MSNBC talk show host Ed Schultz that the changes could cost  workers 20 percent of their income was also rated False.