Gov. Scott Walker’s compensation plan for state workers revealed that state workers would not get pay raises for the next two years. The plan freezes base pay and creates a new system for merit pay controlled by OSER while suspending funding for it during the current two-year budget cycle.
This comes after the governor himself accepted a pay raise that was proposed by the Doyle Administration and approved by lawmakers in 2008. The state constitution forbids current office holders from getting a raise or pay cut midterm, so the approved higher salaries didn’t benefit Governor Doyle, in fact they didn’t take effect until this year. Governor Walker did not propose higher salaries for himself or anyone else in the compensation plan recently released, however he did not turn down the 5% increase that was created by the previous office and took effect this year.
Walker’s actions are concerning because all year long we’ve heard that the state is broke and that the solution was the curtailing of spending in areas like public sector workers, health care, education and other crucial social service areas. However, the fact that the governor couldn’t bring himself to reject a 5% raise calls into question his leadership and sincerity about repairing the state’s budget.
In 2009 Democrats took control of the legislature for the first time since 1986 and the state faced a $5.6 billion deficit. Democrats were expected to lead by example and reject the 5.3% pay raise in order to help close the budget gap. They were implored to return the raises or give them to charity.
Today while most of the state is unemployed or underemployed one would expect Scott Walker to show leadership and reject the pay raise approved by the previous administration. The Walker administration has gone above and beyond to reduce the bargaining power of Unions, effectively reducing their pay as they are only able to bargain up to the rate of inflation. The administration knew that this raise in compensation was coming and if were truly serious about government spending would have planned to return the increase from the outset.
If we are to think about the state of Wisconsin as a business and Governor Walker as the CEO his actions over the past nine months certainly do not warrant a raise in pay. Governor Walker promised to bring 250,000 jobs to Wisconsin by the end of his term, a promise that is likely to go unfulfilled given recent failures to spur employment across the state. Not to mention the reduction of bargaining power for unions of workers, the reduction of health benefits and childcare, compromising public safety by allowing the concealed carry of weapons, disenfranchising minorities and the elderly by requiring photo identification in order to vote. The only benefits that Governor Walker has been able to yield have been for corporate interests of course.
The governor didn’t create the pay raise that now comes with the public office, but he has accepted it. It isn’t enough to say that Governor Walker didn’t increase his pay with the state employee compensation plan, what should be explored is if the governor deserves the raise that he has received.
Gov. Scott Walker’s track record of pandering to corporate elites, instead of the wishes of Wisconsinites (who are hurting beyond measure) shows the hypocrisy in accepting a raise paid by the very same taxpayers he has ignored for so long.