Friday, April 8, 2011

Walker is lying to transit advocates. What a surprise

This may not be news to many people, but for those that haven't been paying attention to all the nasty little turd bomb in the budget bill(s), here's an update on impacts on our transit systems.

From the Huffington Post (although this same article was posted in many other locations as well):
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 over $70 million in federal transit aids in the last fiscal year. Of that, over $46 million is endangered by eliminating collective bargaining for public workers in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County will not have its federal funds cut, because they actually contract with a private company to run their bus system. Small communities around the state also have this arrangement, or could switch to that system fairly easily. However, medium sized systems, such as Madison, the Fox Valley system, La Crosse, Green Bay, etc. are going to be severely hurt. Some of these transit systems communities receive 1/3 of their operating funding from the federal government.

But Walker is lying to local officials and transit advocates by telling them that he is going to get an exemption to this federal law. I am sitting in a transit meeting right now, and earlier this morning, several transit managers told me that Walker has said some version of, "Don't worry about your transit system. I'll write a letter to the feds to allow the money to continue to flow."

It's not true. He's not going to get an exemption. Think about it. Why would the USDOT do any favors for Scott Walker? This is the guy that sent back $810 million in high speed rail money, and then asked for $150 million back for just the Hiawatha line. He's a GOP governor that many think is angling for a run for Vice-President in 2012. He's stuck his finger in the eye of unions, Democrats, teachers, public workers, the poor, the elderly, local governments, and even other elected officials. And even if the person asking for an exemption wasn't such an ass, why would the feds let any governor to ignore federal labor laws?

I haven't been able to find any on-line citations where Walker makes this claim in public, except for a February 22 TV news piece from Appleton, with this quote:
The Governor's office says the bill meets all of the federal requirements to continue receiving the aid.
Don't let Walker pull the wool over your eyes. He knows he can't get an exemption, just like he knew that the high speed rail money couldn't be converted to highways. He kept telling the lie to keep people from seeing the impacts of his policies. When his bluff is called, the message is always that the federal government and the Democrats in charge are being unfair and inflexible.

Walker knows the rules. He just ignores them and lies to the people of Wisconsin.


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