Remember all the talk that the passage of Senate Bill 5 would lead to an apocalypse for public sector workers? Well, what has happened in the absence of collective bargaining reform? Large scale layoffs in school districts and local communities throughout the state.
A look at other midwestern states, however, reveals that it didn’t have to be this way. Jobs could have been preserved and real savings achieved. A report from the Manhattan Institute outlines how major changes made in Indiana years ago and Wisconsin last year have yielded real savings.
In Indiana’s case the savings were achieved without taking a meat cleaver to the budget, but through targeted and structural reforms. This meant that Indiana was relatively well positioned to withstand the storm of the “Great Recession” that began in the wake of the Housing Bubble burst.
In Wisconsin’s case, some communities that were able to take advantage of Gov. Walker’s reforms were able to do so with less draconian layoffs and cuts, while those that were locked into multi-year collective bargaining agreements , unsurprisingly, had to take more drastic action.
What’s the bottom line here? Dealing with an outdated system of government and collective bargaining was always going to be painful, but putting off reform is not only unsustainable in the long run, it only leads to deeper cuts.