Madison — Governor-elect Scott Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, released the following statement today regarding public employee union contracts:
“Governor-elect Scott Walker is opposed to the lame duck Legislature approving public employee union contracts. If approved, the contracts will tie the hands of the Governor and the newly elected Legislature as they work to balance the state budget.”
A portion of Oshkosh Northwestern’s recent editorial can be viewed below:
Oshkosh Northwestern Editorial: Walker deserves maximum flexibility to balance budget
Democratic leaders in the legislature should honor Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker's request Monday to not convene a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature this month to approve public employee union contracts.
There is some merit to the argument that terms of office have defined beginning and end dates along with an expectation that state government is at work providing services and making decisions at all times. However, there is also a transition period between elections and inaugurations to hammer out the detailed work needed for an orderly transfer of power. And save for extraordinary circumstances and emergencies, lawmakers are not normally in session for that reason.
No case has been made that the contracts represent an extraordinary or emergency matter that require immediate action. To the contrary, the state's deepening financial situation is a legitimate crisis that could be dramatically worsened by approving contracts in a lame duck session decoupled from the need to rebalance the current and prepare the new state budget next year.
In short, Walker's request for "maximum flexibility" is reasonable and appropriate given the current $150 million shortfall and the impending $3.3 billion structural deficit forecasted for the 2010-2013 biennium budget. There are other factors that make approving the contracts with nine of 19 state labor unions troublesome. Gov. Jim Doyle's administration announced the tentative agreements Nov. 19, but the contracts have not been released to the public…