The PJ Tatler

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Walker's Reforms Are Working

The JS didn’t title their editorial, which came out after the polls closed last night, in a way that directly supports Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms. But the text of the article makes it clear enough.

So it turns out that the sky isn’t going to fall on all local governments in Wisconsin.

They should have finished that sentence “…despite what the unions, the Democrats and us liberal media predicted. And hoped for.”

The numbers now starting to come in show that Gov. Scott Walker’s “tools” for local governments apparently will help at least some of them deal with cuts in state aid imposed by the state budget.

That’s contrary to the expectation and the rhetoric of critics in the spring, and it’s to Walker’s credit. It bears out the governor’s assessment of his budget-repair bill, although we still maintain he could have reached his goals without dealing a body blow to public employee unions.

That’s called being stubborn.

Local government officials also need to keep in mind that not all governments will share equally – Milwaukee County is one example – and that tough choices remain. And state legislators should make adjustments in any follow-on budget-repair bill to make sure that any pain is fairly shared.

But the news is good for many. The latest example is Milwaukee, where the most recent estimates show the city with a net gain of at least $11 million for its 2012 budget. That will take a slice out of the city’s structural deficit, which is created by costs rising faster than revenue, and will reduce cuts that Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council must impose.

The city projects it will save at least $25 million a year – the figure could be as high as $36 million in 2012 – from health care benefit and pension changes it didn’t have to negotiate with unions because of the changes wrought by the new law that ended most collective bargaining for most public employees.

That certainly will help the city deal with the $14 million in cuts in state aid in the 2011-’13 state budget.

City officials were loath to give Walker any credit.

Of course they were. Walker did things that he said would benefit them and the state, and they opposed him for political reasons. They resisted reform and have been proven wrong. Proven wrong. Politicians and the journalists who love them hate to be proven wrong. And last night’s elections tied a bow around all that.

The Democrats face two recalls next week thanks to their own over reach, and they’re still going forward with recalling Walker next year. They would be fools to press on with that, but politics seldom generates wisdom.

In Scott Walker, Wisconsin has the real deal: A leader with the guts to make very tough choices necessary to carry through with effective reform. That state should hang onto him and ignore his petulant critics, who have been proven wrong.