If there wasn't already enough evidence that republicans across the country are firmly in the pocket of corporate America, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's latest move should cancel out any doubt. Inheriting a projected budget surplus of 121 million dollars for the fiscal years of 2009-20011, Walker quickly moved to pass 140 million dollars in tax breaks, and thus create the 137 million dollar budget "crisis" that he now says forces him to pass a bill which would cripple state unions by taking away their collective bargaining rights. The bill also would force union workers to pay an increasing share of their health care costs, an area in which they have already given ground to make up for past budget shortfalls.
While some of these moves may seem justfiable (such as incentives to bring new business to the state), others do not (such as the proposed tougher restrictions on building wind turbines). Whatsmore, the 67 million dollar tax cut designed to lure new businesses into the state would not bring in any revenue for the first two years, while the restrictions on wind turbines would jeopardize the proposed 1.8 billion dollars in new projects slated to provide not only jobs and clean energy, but also more money for the state budget. Walker is proposing increasing the 1250 foot restriction on building the turbines near residential areas to 1800 feet, which would make it the most restrictive law in the nation. Apparently Walker's "open for business" policy only applies to companies favored by republicans.
Not surprisingly, the Governor's attempt to effectively bust the unions by forcing them to have to reorganize every year has faced stiff opposition. Not only have tens of thousands of Wisconsinites descended on Madison to march, protest and fill the halls of the state capital; democrats in the assembly fillibustered the bill for nearly 60 hours before republicans sneaked in a quick vote at one in the morning then walked out without talking to reporters. Senate democrats have gone even further, fleeing the state (not to Sherwood forrest but to Illinois) in order to prevent republicans from being able to bring the bill to a vote. Walker even dispatched state troopers to the homes of the senators in hopes of catching them getting a few necessities, but the troopers came up empty. While these measures may seem a bit extreme to outsiders, when dealing with a leader and a legislative majority that clearly favor the rich over the middle and lower classes, sometimes a little modern day Robin Hoodism is warranted.