Scott Walker vs. Jerry Brown

June 3, 2012

By Brian Calle

Californians know a thing or two about recalls.

Only two state governors in U.S. history have been removed from office via recall; the first was North Dakota Gov. Lynn J. Frazier in 1921. Of course, the second was California’s Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.

Public-sector unions in Wisconsin — with their national counterparts cheering them on — hope Tuesday to make Gov. Scott Walker the third governor recalled from office because he dared to challenge union power and influence in state governance.

But compare Walker with California Gov. Jerry Brown — and contrast Wisconsin’s progress since Walker enacted his union-bucking policies with California’s continued decline under Brown’s union-friendly leadership, and you see two different outcomes.

Walker and Brown, who both took office on the same day, Jan. 3, 2011, faced tremendous budget deficits and squawking public employee unions demanding higher taxes. Brown obliged; Walker would not.

Faced with a $3.6 billion deficit, Walker lowered taxes — freezing property taxes and bringing down school property taxes. He also painted a realistic and honest budget picture for his constituents and pushed for painful but necessary reforms that cut collective bargaining rights for government unions and created more competition, like allowing private vendors to bid on health insurance contracts for school districts, which reduced costs.

Seventeen months later, Wisconsin is projected to have a $154 million surplus by the summer of 2013. And, the Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute reported that Walker’s reforms have saved taxpayers $1 billion.

In California, Gov. Brown, returning to the post he left in 1983, sided with unions from day one. Early on, he appointed a California Teachers Association lobbyist, Patricia Rucker, to the state Board of Education. He also presented Californians with an unrealistic budget that projected far more state revenue than what eventually came in.

Partially as a result of such budgeting gimmickry, the state’s projected $9 billion budget shortfall has ballooned to $17 billion.

Brown’s plan to close the gap is to convince voters in November to inflict higher taxes on themselves, an approach blessed by unions. Should his tax increases pass, they would raise only about $8.5 billion, a far cry from the $17 billion needed to close the budget hole. And that means California will continue on the path of dysfunctional budgeting and sidestepping meaningful reform.

Unlike Walker, Brown has yet to challenge the stranglehold that public employee unions have in the state — if anything, he has emboldened them. That is one of the reasons he prefers seeking new taxes to making deeper spending cuts or expending political capital on reforming unsustainable public-employee pensions.

Also, unions had been a pillar of Brown’s political career for decades. They helped get him elected again to the governorship in 2010. Early in his first administration, Brown signed the Rodda Act in 1975, which bestowed collective bargaining rights on California public school teachers.

Walker in many ways is the antithesis of Brown.

As Douglas Belkin and Kris Maher wrote for the Wall Street Journal: “Public-employee unions in Wisconsin have experienced a dramatic drop in membership – by more than half for the second-biggest union — since a law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker sharply curtailed their ability to bargain over wages and working conditions.” Specifically, Walker stopped the practice of automatically withholding union dues from the paychecks of employees — the main source of funds for union political operations.

“Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers — fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011,” Belkin and Maher reported.

Examining Brown and Walker’s records, one might argue the recall efforts ought to focus on the former, rather than the latter, as the California governor continues to preside and perhaps enable the Golden State’s fiscal calamity.

Walker’s day of reckoning comes Tuesday, and, fortunately, the latest-available polling data, including a poll from Marquette University, indicated he would prevail, with about 52 percent support.

Brown’s day of reckoning will come in November, when votes are cast on his tax increase ballot measure.

What happens in Wisconsin in a couple days will have significant repercussions for those hoping, eventually, for similar reforms in the Golden State. If Walker keeps his job, other governors, like Brown, well could find themselves with more leverage with their unions. If Walker is recalled, unions nationwide will be emboldened.


Write a comment
    NTHEOC 3 June, 2012, 19:11

    Scott walker is nothing more than a big business private sector pig puppet!! Walker created a huge deficit by awarding giant tax breaks to his big business allies and then balancing the budget off the public workers backs!!! For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries’ political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess is Scott Walker. Hey brian calle, your ok with this huh!!!!But how dare the workers fight back!!
    But compare Walker with California Gov. Jerry Brown
    Ok,Gov brown has a college degree,Gov walker has a G.E.D!!!!Hahaha no college degree for the koch puppet!!!!!

    Reply this comment
    NTHEOC 3 June, 2012, 19:16

    Brown signed the Rodda Act in 1975, which bestowed collective bargaining rights on California public school teachers.
    THANK GOD!!!!!
    Walker’s plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers’ playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions.In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power. (Walker also opposes the state’s Clean Energy Job Act, which would compel the state to increase its use of alternative energy.VICTORY TO THE KOCH BROS!!!

    Reply this comment
    NTHEOC 3 June, 2012, 19:18

    Unions set the wages for private sector businesses in each area they have a union.If you own a small business that does manufacturing and you want to be competitive, you have to offer a competitive wage and benefits. If the unions go away, then the collective bargaining to keep a plant in the area goes away and the plant can move overseas.And once that happens the manufacturing industry dies because most small businesses in a union town get contract work from the union. So, when a plant dies-all those small businesses die and when they die the town dies. No money to pay grocery stores, hardware stores, car dealerships, car insurance, restaurants etc. Houses are foreclosed on and left empty. The tax base dries up and it creates a ripple affect. Whatever jobs are left are low paying and offer no benefits. You get caught in the crossfire no matter what you do for a living. And this is just what the 1% hogs want!!!!

    Reply this comment
  4. Slappy
    Slappy 3 June, 2012, 20:22

    High taxes will equal lower net income… take the State of Maryland a couple years back. They had a sizable deficit and figured they’d increase taxes on the rich to close the gap. The result? Way lower income. The reason why? Rich people moved out of the state… Rich people can live anywhere, so why would they live somewhere they will have to pay more in taxes? Businesses have been fleeing California for years. If we increase taxes even more, you’re going to see even more close shop. Only on paper can you show higher tax rates means more income… but never figures in people’s reactions to higher taxes. Argue all you want about Walker’s actions, but you have to look at the end results. Walker’s constiguents are the entire state… not just the Unions. When Brown figures this out, we’ll fix our state. None of the outlandish stories people dreamed up that would happen once Walker got rid of collective bargaining came to pass… and it won’t. I’m voting no on raising taxes… we don’t have a revenue problem in this state… we have a spending problem.

    Reply this comment
  5. psa188
    psa188 3 June, 2012, 20:35

    When will people put Jerry Brown’s tax increases together with his support for high speed rail. There’s a new poll out that indicates that, if given a chance, people would vote against it:

    Yet I’ve also read that the Jerry Brown tax increases are polling slightly ahead. Since high speed fail won’t be on the November ballot, people should do the next best thing and vote “no” on the tax increases. I know I will.

    Reply this comment
  6. queeg
    queeg 3 June, 2012, 23:12

    Get your wallets oiled…those greenbacks will be slithering into Big Jerry’s pot!!!

    Reply this comment
  7. Bill-San Jose
    Bill-San Jose 4 June, 2012, 06:39

    This website is the only true measure of what is really going on in Sacto.

    Thanks for the great information from the writers and readers to enlighten the rest of us.

    Reply this comment
  8. computernerd
    computernerd 4 June, 2012, 08:11

    NTHEOC, would you like some cheese to go with your WHINE..!! You lost me when you brought up the Koch Brothers.

    Reply this comment
  9. John Seiler
    John Seiler 4 June, 2012, 08:18

    NTHEOC: As they have in California, in Wisconsin government union bosses abused their immense power and had to be reined in. There’s only so much tax money. When it runs out, the state — or city, or country — goes bankrupt.

    Reply this comment
  10. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 4 June, 2012, 08:46

    Since the topic involves gov walker, I just wanted to show who his biggest supporters are and the influence big private sector business has in govt! Gov walker is GED educated and is in the pockets of the koch brothers.(google them)

    Reply this comment
  11. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 4 June, 2012, 08:57

    Also, unions had been a pillar of Brown’s political career for decades. They helped get him elected again to the governorship in 2010.
    Again JS, but its ok that big business and private sector billionaire thugs are the pillar of scott walkers career? Hypocrit!! Why do you avoid this topic and only attack the working middle class and the unions? Also, I agree that there is only so much tax money and if the increase does not pass i’m just wondering what perks and services californians are willing to go without.Ever heard “you get what you pay for”!!!!

    Reply this comment
  12. C Benton
    C Benton 4 June, 2012, 16:18

    NTHEOC have you ever heard of “You don’t spend more than you got?” I love the game the unions play with CA voters…give us juicy contracts or we’ll cut your b***s off. No libraries, no EBT,(sorry Cal FRESH) no lifeguards. At what point do you think those middle class people who you say are being disenfranchised are going to rise up against the public sector of CA?

    Seriously, I started making plans to move out of CA as soon as JB got elected. SOOO glad I did. My company has grown and my employees now own houses vs renting tiny apartments.

    And just out of curiosity…who do you think employes those “middle class” workers you talk about? The unions don’t create jobs. Where would they be without those big Corporations who have contracts with the unions?

    Ca is in a death spiral under JB. Wisconsin has made some hard choices…as have their teachers and middle class folk who for the most part think that the time of the big union influence is over.

    Koch vs Trumpka…I’d take the Koch brothers any day, at least they know how to create something as to learning how to be a blood sucking leach.

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex the Wonder dog!
    Rex the Wonder dog! 4 June, 2012, 19:44

    Unions set the wages for private sector businesses in each area they have a union

    If that were true ntheoc, every GED dork in CA would be making $250K per year like the firewhiners 😉

    Reply this comment
  14. Ted Steele, Prosecutor
    Ted Steele, Prosecutor 5 June, 2012, 06:44

    Poor wonder poodle– can’t post without the childish attacks…lol

    Reply this comment
  15. John Steele
    John Steele 5 June, 2012, 07:10

    Eventually WE will have a Scott Walker come forward in California when the dolts who keep voting for Democrats, Just because they’re re Democrats realize their bank accounts have been plundered they can’t find jobs because the green crap was a disaster and nobody speaks English anymore beause all the productive people have left Kalifornia. 800,000 productive people left Kalifornia in the last 6 years. I expect it to continue.

    Reply this comment

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