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Ziegelbauer: Walker’s Plan Has Merit

Again, the traditional disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: Assemblyman Bob Ziegelbauer (I-Manitowoc); who both represents southern Manitowoc County and serves also as Manitowoc County Executive, is my cousin.  My dad is his mother’s younger brother.  We have not talked about the events in Madison at all since they began two weeks ago.  In fact, the last time we talked was sometime in late November, early December of 2010.

From yesterday’s Manitowoc Herald Times-Reporter:

Two weeks ago, Gov. Scott Walker unveiled the next step in his plan to put Wisconsin’s fiscal house back in order, by realigning retirement and other fringe benefits for state and local government employees. It confronts head-on a problem every city, county and school district in the state has been struggling with, and it filled the Capitol with protesters.

Total compensation — wages plus fringe benefits — for public sector employees has been out of whack for long a time. It’s a systematic problem, one we can’t ignore.

When the economy went down, state and local government kept spending as if everything was normal. But, the truth is that when things went bad, nearly everyone in the private sector took a big, permanent, financial hit almost immediately and are only now working their way back.

Public sector employees were protected from the pain by continuing tax increases, mediation arbitration and the political power of their unions. As unemployment got worse, the gap between their total compensation and the rest grew farther apart. Now, we need to adjust, to realign that as soon as possible. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.

Of course this is a message that no one wants to hear. But, telling people the truth isn’t picking on anyone. For too long, public employees have been told by their leaders that they deserved more, and good people believed it. But now you can decide for yourself. At the county, we’ve posted pay and benefits for the past four years on our website. Every unit of local government should do the same.

Many still say, just raise taxes, as if someone else can pay for this. But raising taxes would only make things worse for everyone.

The governor’s plan calls for most employees to pay half of the cost of retirement benefits and increase their share of health insurance costs. The typical impact would be about 7 percent of total compensation, not painless, but compared to the rest of the world, a modest amount.

I agree with much more than I disagree with in the governor’s plan, and I’m working to make it better; by adding civil service protections, addressing concerns about seniority and including all local government employees.

This will not only help the budget, but more importantly save jobs all around us. Instead of constantly cutting jobs and programs, cities, schools and counties will end furloughs, bring back laid off workers and create stable career opportunities for young people.

Of all the members of the State Legislature, the Walker Budget Repair Bill and the soon-to-be announced budget will effect Ziegelbauer the most on a professional basis.  Unlike others (Madison Democrat Brett Hulsey comes to mind) claiming they were ex-city council members and the like, only Ziegelbauer — as a county executive — will be the only one actually having to write a budget for a municipality in the next few months.

He’s going to actually have to live with the budgetary mechanics of the legislation; not complain for purely politically reasons which has been standard operating procedure for both sides of the political aisle for years in Wisconsin.

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  • Greg

    Why not be totally truthful and Add that Ziggy is a Republican who knows he can’t win with an R next to his name, so he runs as Dem or Indy or whatever it takes to win an Election and stay on The public Teat ?

  • Anonymous

    And yet he keeps winning in what is supposed to be a Democratic area. Go
    figure.

  • Greg

    Really??? You can’t be that stupid?

    of course he wins…He gets all the GOP Vote and enough dem folks who vote party line!! Not a big surprise. Mildy surprised the 2 elected roles thing doesn’t hurt him more. But he’s assuredly a type A person who can do both!

  • Pingback: Assembly Rep: Walker’s Budget Repair Bill Has Merit « The Underground Conservative()

  • This is not a fair plain. As I have stated all along not only are you attacking our children in the school districts of Wisconsin but you are attacking the middle class and lower class citizens of Wisconsin. This is just wrong you guys have no ideas what this means to children and teachers. For example this means more kids in a class room per teacher, this means special programs like Title 1 are being attacked. You and Scott Walker don’t care about the children. My final and last though is it is pretty funny to be an elected office such as yourself and Gov. Walker and are allowed to make 100K plus but don’t need a college education such as Gov. Walker but our teachers have to work long hours 5 days a week and have to be recertified every year. All I have to say is thank you to people like you and Gov. Scott Walker who will make it much easier for the Dems to take back what we have lost.

  • This is not a fair plain. As I have stated all along not only are you attacking our children in the school districts of Wisconsin but you are attacking the middle class and lower class citizens of Wisconsin. This is just wrong you guys have no ideas what this means to children and teachers. For example this means more kids in a class room per teacher, this means special programs like Title 1 are being attacked. You and Scott Walker don’t care about the children. My final and last though is it is pretty funny to be an elected office such as yourself and Gov. Walker and are allowed to make 100K plus but don’t need a college education such as Gov. Walker but our teachers have to work long hours 5 days a week and have to be recertified every year. All I have to say is thank you to people like you and Gov. Scott Walker who will make it much easier for the Dems to take back what we have lost.