On behalf of the entire staff of RightWisconsin let me wish you a Happy Anniversary. Today marks two years since Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unveiled the proposal that would eventually become Act 10.

It is a day taxpayers across the state, and conservatives across the nation should celebrate.

When Walker entered the Governor’s conference room in the East Wing of the State Capitol in Madison on February 11, 2011, the main details of the proposal had been leaked. But not everyone understood the true impact of the legislation. It was to become a modern day emancipation proclamation for public sector workers in Wisconsin. Thanks to Walker and the Republicans who voted for the plan, state employees would be forever free from conscription into labor unions and the involuntary withdrawal of union dues from their paychecks.

As I wrote less than three months before that fateful press conference, it was the right time to user in those reforms:

The concept of collective bargaining by public employee unions is not some century-old part of Wisconsin's foundation. We became a state in 1848.  The State of Wisconsin did not enact a collective bargaining law until 1959, led by then-Governor and later liberal U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson.

Nelson's efforts fifty years ago made Wisconsin the first state in the nation to pass such sweeping legislation governing public sector labor relations and followed the lead of New York City….

We now have more government jobs than manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin.

We used to be a state where we make things. Now we are a state that makes excuses for why the government behemoth cannot be tamed.
That must change.

In recent decades the strength of organized labor has shifted from the private sector manufacturing and service sectors to governmental workers' unions like AFSCME and teachers unions like AFT and WEAC.  While this shift has occurred, the role of union funding in state and national elections has continued to grow, often making unions and trial lawyers the principal funders of campaigns from the president right on down to legislative races.

Herein lies the problem with public employee unions: They determine the fate of their own bosses who in turn have dominion over their compensation. Public employee unions skew the labor-management equation through their political muscle and the fact that their contracts are approved by the very same politicians for whom they vote. Therefore, they have the power to perpetuate and accentuate their own wage and benefit structures at the expense of the taxpaying public.

Building painters in school districts with annual compensation packages of more than $98,000 and bus drivers making six figure salaries that translate into benefit-rich pensions are part of the driving force in the budget problems facing Wisconsin.

Unfunded and underfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities are ticking time bombs at every level of government.

Wisconsin's state budget doubles the trouble. As a matter of public policy Wisconsin lawmakers have chosen to fund a great deal of local governments' and schools' budgets as a means of controlling property taxes. Yet, as school boards and local government employers lack the tools and the will to control wages and benefits, these expenses skyrocket

Act 10 changed all that. It changed everything.

Now, state employees have the choice whether to join a union. They are free to affiliate and contribute to political organizations, but they are no longer forced to finance them. 

Most local government employees, including public school teachers now have that same freedom.

School district administrators across the state are finding out what many of us had suspected:  Act 10 is proving to be the single biggest education reform in at least a generation. Principals are no longer forced to compete in a dance of the lemons, where problem employees are shuffled between buildings. Staffing assignments are made in the best interest of the students, not based on mere seniority of the employees. The most serious districts are also beginning to implement a merit-based compensation plan.

A few unscrupulous employees are no longer able to game the system. Because of Act 10, the state has cracked down on overtime abuses—and saved millions of dollars.
Schools, towns, villages, cities and counties across the state were able to realize billions of dollars of savings.

The Doyle years left Wisconsin bleeding red. Walker, through Act 10 and subsequent moves, took a $3.6 billion deficit and is now running a surplus. And they did all this without the massive tax hike we’ve seen in other state like Illinois and California.

It all started two years ago today.

Happy Anniversary.