Government and Political Roundup: Fallout from Friday's union court ruling beginsWisconsin’s attorney general says he’ll try as soon he can to hold up the restoration of most public union bargaining for Wisconsin’s municipal and school employees.
Wisconsin’s attorney general says he’ll try as soon he can to hold up the restoration of most public union bargaining for Wisconsin’s municipal and school employees. J-B Van Hollen says he’ll ask that Friday’s Dane County Circuit Court ruling be delayed, until the appellate courts can review the decision. Judge Juan Colas said the year-old bargaining limits infringe on the unions’ rights to free speech and association. And it violates constitutional clauses for equal protection, because non-union workers don’t have the same limits on pay raises and benefits. Among other things, Colas said the law violates Milwaukee’s home rule rights. Milwaukee’s unionized sanitation workers and Madison public school teachers filed the lawsuit in which Colas ruled. Madison teachers’ lawyer Lester Pines said unions did not prevail in their effort to overturn a ban on unions for U-W employees, and workers at U-W Hospital. Observers say the new ruling does not affect state employees. Still, Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend calls it a “disaster” for local governments and schools. He said it’s possible those officials would have to reverse the extra payments for health insurance and retirement that all public workers faced under the union law. Grothman told W-I-B-A Radio in Madison it’s an expense that’s not built in local budgets – and it would be a financial disaster unless a restraining order can be approved in the next week. Pines said it might take a while, though. He expects the injunction request to go to the Supreme Court before the ruling itself is considered.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is again pressuring state Republicans to use more of a lawsuit settlement over mortgage abuses to help the city deal with its foreclosed properties. The state government received just over 30-million-dollars from the settlement – in which the Badger State got a total of 140-million from large banks that were sued for abuses in the ways they handled foreclosures. In April, Governor Scott Walker agreed to put 24-million dollars of the windfall toward the state’s budget deficit. But now, with the state expecting a surplus, Barrett said the G-O-P should allocate the money to his city and others to deal with the clean-ups of foreclosed properties. State officials recently said the current two-year budget would end with a 275-million dollar surplus by next June 30th. Barrett said the surplus quote, “removes any rationale for ripping us off from those dollars that will help the city and other communities.” Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy said the state did provide a half-million dollars to tear down 39 blighted and vacant houses in the city. But he says much more is needed. And Murphy said quote, “the millions from the settlement was supposed to be used to help” foreclosed residents and to mitigate issues involving abandoned houses. The governor’s office has not commented.
President Obama will begin a week of campaigning today in battleground states that include Wisconsin. Ohio is first on the president’s itinerary. And the Associated Press says Obama will announce a formal complaint against China, for illegally subsidizing exports for autos and auto parts. The U-S has said that the practice puts American companies at a disadvantage – and it encourages the outsourcing of jobs to China’s auto plants. The U-S has tried but failed to get China to address the issue on its own. So the administration will reportedly file a complaint with the World Trade Organization to get the matter addressed. It comes amid new criticism by Republican Mitt Romney that the Democrat Obama has quote, “let China run all over us.” Last week, Romney took out a T-V ad accusing the president of quote, “failing American workers” and ignoring unfair trade practices by China. The Obama camp pointed out that Romney has investments in Chinese firms – and he outsourced jobs to China when he ran the equity firm of Bain Capital. The White House says U-S auto parts jobs have dropped by half in the decade ending in 2010 – while imports of Chinese auto parts have grown by 700-percent. Obama’s week-long campaign trip includes stops in Ohio, New York, Florida, Virginia, and finally Milwaukee on Saturday – where he’ll hold a major fund-raiser in his first visit to Wisconsin since February.