Scott Walker's Union-Busting Bill Would Bleed $47 Million in Federal Funds

We already know Scott Walker's Wisconsin union-busting budget freak-out is a crock -- he started 2011 with a surplus which was magically erased once he gifted huge tax breaks to wealthy multi-national corporations. But for all his chatter about belt-tightening, he's neglecting the fact that should his bill pass, he'll be forfeiting $46 million in federal funds -- money that could be used for fixing highways, streets and other important transit-related projects. The Huffington Post:

Under an obscure provision of federal labor law, states risk losing federal funds should they eliminate "collective bargaining rights" that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted. The provision, known as "protective arrangements" or "Section 13C arrangements," is meant as a means of cushioning union (and even some non-union) members who, while working on local projects, are affected by federal grants.

It also could potentially hamstring governors like Walker who want dramatic changes to labor laws in their states. Wisconsin received $74 million in federal transit funds this fiscal year. Of that, $46.6 million would be put at risk should the collective-bargaining bill come to pass -- in the process creating an even more difficult fiscal situation than the one that, ostensibly, compelled Walker to push the legislation in the first place.

Walker has been informed of this provision by both the nonpartisan Wisconsin Fiscal Bureauand reporters seeking to speak with him on the topic, but he hasn't addressed the issue as of yet. In fact, he actually seems to be denying that the provision exists... except:

A local report said that the governor's office felt SB11 would meet all the requirements necessary to continue receiving federal aid, though their reasoning isn't entirely clear. The state could conceivably void the projects that were dependent on the federal money. It could also try to privatize those projects.

Good times. Last night during the State Assembly's all-night filibuster, one of the the many amendments drafted by the Democrats would protect transit workers from Walker's bargaining-eliminating bill, therefore protecting the federal funds. Milwakee Dem Tamara Grigsby, who co-sponsored the amendment, said, "We are here to do the right thing. CEO Walker's bill is an attack on Wisconsin's working families and a poorly thought-out one at that. Currently, this bill will cost the state almost $47 million in federal transit aid, something I hope is an unintended consequence of this legislation. What we're proposing today is a way to preserve our vital transit systems."

In other words... hopefully Walker's dismissal of the funds doesn't mean he meant for this to happen so he could farm out transit work to his beloved corporations and further throw the state into unnecessary debt.

 

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at February 23, 2011, 5:35am

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