Last night Republicans in the Wisconsin State Senate passed a bill that enacted the most contentious element of their proposed budget, the stripping of many of the state’s public unions’ collective bargaining rights through a procedural measure by stripping the element from the budget and ensuring that it contained no language of direct fiscal effect, allowing them to pass the bill without the three-fifths quorum necessary to pass any bill with fiscal impact.
While it does seem that this standoff will be politically costly for the GOP in the near term, I don’t think that it’s been particularly edifying for the unions or Democrats who are now complaining of the unfairness of passing the measure through a procedural technicality which they blocked using a procedural technicality. While in the short term, the public sector unions have garnered some public sympathy, the erosion of their power means that less state money will be funneled into liberal activist outlets, which will curtail some of the Democratic Party’s power, as James Kirkpatrick points out at Alternative Right.
In the long run, however, it’s hard to see where this will lead. If Democrats manage to win back both houses and the governorship at some point, which is a likelihood, given Wisconsin’s recent role as a Democratic-leaning swing state, they will be sure to restore the powers that this year’s Republicans are managing to curtail. While I don’t think that public sector unions are justified entities, it seems that my view is a minority one for now and I doubt that we’ll see Republicans flee across the border when the tables are turned.
For now, Wisconsin has won a respite from the rent-seeking powers of public employee cartels.