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Walker admits collective bargaining provision doesn’t save any money for Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker conceded today at a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that major elements in the Wisconsin law denying collective bargaining rights to public worker unions don’t save the state any money.

Following a line of questioning from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Walker said that the provision requiring unions to hold annual votes in order to keep union representation saves no money for Wisconsin. Walker went on to say that the voting provision and the one preventing unions from imposing mandatory membership fees were worker protection efforts and meant to provide workers with “the right to choose,” rather than an attempt to fix Wisconsin’s budget, despite being elements of what Walker termed his “budget repair bill.”

ThinkProgress has a partial transcript of the exchange (emphasis theirs):

KUCINICH: Let me ask you about some of the specific provisions in your proposals to strip collective bargaining rights. First, your proposal would require unions to hold annual votes to continue representing their own members. Can you please explain to me and members of this committee how much money this provision saves for your state budget?

WALKER: That and a number of other provisions we put in because if you’re going to ask, if you’re going to put in place a change like that, we wanted to make sure we protected the workers of our state, so they got value out of that. [...]

KUCINICH: Would you answer the question? How much money does it save, Governor?

WALKER: It doesn’t save any.

After this heated back-and-forth, Kucinich requested that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee chairman, allow a Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau report (PDF) to be included in the official congressional record. The Fiscal Bureau is a nonpartisan financial oversight agency comparable to the federal Congressional Budget Office; its report states that nothing in Walker’s collective bargaining provisions has any fiscal impact on the state of Wisconsin. This is contrary to Walker’s earlier claims that the bill is a budgetary matter and would, for example, lessen the burden on taxpayers to fund public pension plans.

Issa denied Kucinich the right to insert the document in the record without further committee review, arguing that it’s standard protocol to do so when committee members haven’t yet seen a given document. Kucinich was outraged, but the document ultimately made it into the record.

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