There was buzz Wednesday suggesting that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was caving on his stand-off with the public-employee union. Not so. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:
The Senate abruptly passed a controversial budget-repair bill Wedneday night -- without Democrats -- and sent the measure to the Assembly, which is expected to pass it Thursday.
The bill eliminates almost all collective bargaining for public workers. . . .
Democrats have been able to block a vote on the bill for three weeks because 20 senators had to be present to vote for it. Republicans control the house 19-14.
But late Wednesday, a committee stripped some elements from the bill that they said allowed them to pass it with a simple majority present. The most controversial parts of the bill remain intact.
Why didn’t Walker do this sooner? It may be there was genuine confusion over whether the collective bargaining measures were “fiscal” and therefore required a quorum. And certainly Walker would have preferred to have the Democrats come back, removing any question about the legislation’s legitimacy. But the Democrats wouldn’t play ball and threatened to stay out of the state indefinitely, so Walker had to end the logjam. He did, but not as wishful liberals had imagined.
Did Walker win? Mickey Kaus at the Daily Caller thinks so, noting that elimination of mandatory dues check off (whereby the employer is obliged to snatch dues from the employees’ pay and route it back to the union) is the real win here. By refusing to negotiate a face-saver, the Democrats blew it, in Mickey’s eyes:
[T]he Dems could have returned to Madison claiming that their dramatic walkout had resulted in a non-trivial victory of sorts, and the press was poised to portray them as brave, victorious heroes. This outcome denies the Democrats that media triumph. No doubt the MSM will come up with another way to celebrate the Flight of the 14 as a Tunisia-like tide-turning. But it will take some creativity, and the public might not buy it.
It is very likely more Republican governors will attempt similar changes in their relationships with public-employee unions. Liberals are certain this will all backfire and/or that Walker and some Republican lawmakers will be recalled. We’ll see. But here’s the thing: If Walker balances the budget, doesn’t raise taxes and lures employers to his state, does anyone think the voters will revolt? Success breeds popularity. Walker will need to show results, but for now he’s shown spine. And that is a model for Republicans across the country.