Historier fra Wisconsin – Ambulansebehandler, engelsklærer og brannmann.

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Guvernør Scott Walker i Wisconsin har et budsjettproblem. Et stort budsjettproblem. Så det mest logiske er å kikke på inntekssiden og utgiftssiden av regnskapet til staten. For å dekke underskuddet kjapt, kutter man offentlige utgifter og setter opp skatter og avgifter for å øke inntektene. Men, og det er alltid et men: Dette er komplisert.

Vi kommer inn på hvorfor guvernøren har fått det hett rundt ørene, men lå oss begynne med inntektssiden, skatter og avgifter. For å heve ‘income, sales and franchise’ skatter må man ha 2/3 majoritet. Fylkessenator, Leah Vukmir:

You either starve the beast or you feed the beast. And we’ve been feeding the beast for far too long,” Vukmir said.

Når verden er så svart-hvit, er det lite ammunisjon igjen for å øke inntektssiden.

Så hva med utgifter. Vel, de må kuttes, men hva som har fått det til å koke over, hvorfor 14 fylkessenatorer flyktet, er guvernørens planer for å redusere fagforeningens forhandlingsmakt. Men det er mer. Paul Kurgman har lest de 144 sidene i loven og fant bl.a.

The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.

For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.

And then there’s this: “Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).”

Å selge unna offentlig eide eiendeler for inntekter er ekstremt vanskelig å gjøre riktig. Selge til hvem, selge til hvilken pris, når skal man selge og hvilke rettigheter skal det offentlige ha for bruk etter salg. At dette skal foregå uten anbudsrunder, uten avstemming og uten begrunnelse ’til fylkes beste’ er ikke rette måten å starte på.

Historier om overdådige pensjoner (WSJ) og for gode rettigheter kommer for en dag. Og det er få som nekter for at helserettighetene, pensjonene og betingelsene til mange er for gunstige. Så det kan man gjøre noe med.

Men noe sier meg at disse menneskene er flere enn de over:
Ambulanse:

David Rhode is a paramedic in Middleton, Wis. He works 56 hours a week, mostly in 24-hour shifts, frequently carrying wheezy patients up and down flights of stairs. He said he earns about $43,000 a year.

HuffPost asked Rhode, 36, how it feels to be overpaid. His eyebrows went up.

«I drove my Ford Focus here,» he said. «I live in a 950-square-foot condominium!»

Rhode said he participated in contract negotiations between the Middleton city administrator and his union, which he said successfully bargained for less vacation time in order to maintain its current level of health coverage. Under the resulting contract, the city covers 95 percent of the cost of premiums. Walker’s bill caps that at 88 percent, which union bosses have said they’re willing to accept so long as collective bargaining rights are preserved.

Rhode said the contract negotiations process he participated led to a successful compromise. «And that’s what they’re trying to take away,» he said.

Lærer:

On the second floor, HuffPost met Erica McCool, a seventh-grade English teacher in Stoughton, carrying a sign that said she wouldn’t let Walker into her classroom because he’s a bully. A formal paralegal, McCool said she she started studying to get a Wisconsin educator license in 2005 and now earns about $30,000 a year as an English teacher. She loves her job but laughed when asked whether she considered herself overprivileged.

«I can’t get a home loan. I set my thermostat at 62. No cable at my house, no internet,» said McCool, 29. «I’m also $36,000 in debt from becoming a teacher.»

Brann:

On the ground floor, Madison resident Pete Silva told HuffPost he had been a firefighter for 26 years when he retired in September at age 52. Silva said he worked 56 hours a week, often 24-hour shifts, driving a fire engine in response to fires and medical emergencies. He said his salary started at $31,000 and had reached $60,000 by the time he retired.

Silva said his pension provides $30,000 a year, which isn’t enough for him to live on, so he’s taken a job as an instructor in the Wisconsin Technical College System, earning roughly $55,000 a year. His total income is significantly higher than what he earned as a firefighter, but he makes no apologies, arguing that a nice pension was part of the deal he made in exchange for his decades in a dangerous job. He said he sustained two neck injuries from lifting «very, very heavy patients» and has had to replace herniated discs.

Det er så mange biter i dette puslespillet, at forenklinger i media er langt fra dekkende for denne saken. Les Wall Street Journal artikkelen over, og vi er tilbake til et balansert bilde. Men ikke glem hvorfor vi har fagforeninger in the first place. (Tenk grvearbeidere, tenk bilindustri, tenk oljeindustri, og andre som ikke forhandler med det offentlige)

(Foto: Mark Danielson/flickr)

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