Assembly speaker says end of Act 10 will bankrupt schools

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(The Center Square) – State law that limits how public unions can negotiate contracts has saved taxpayers billions of dollars, says the speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly.

And after a lawsuit filed Thursday, Rep. Robin Vos cautions changing it 12 years later could cause bankruptcy in schools and governments.

“The repeal of Act 10,” said Vos, R-Rochester, would bankrupt schools and local governments right after we gave them a historic funding increase. This is another attempt by liberal special interest groups to undo the law to please their donors now that there’s been a shift in the court.”

A group of public sector unions in Wisconsin on Thursday filed a lawsuit that seeks to end the state law that limits how public unions, specifically Wisconsin’s teachers’ union, can negotiate their contracts.

The lawsuit reads in part, “Wisconsin’s statute unconstitutionally discriminates against most public sector workers, denying their freedom to negotiate with employers on subjects beyond base wages and to be represented by a union without jumping through the hoops of burdensome annual recertification elections. It excludes many sworn law enforcement officers and other public sector workers including corrections officers, teachers, and education support personnel.”

The legislation was signed into law in 2011 by former Gov. Scott Walker.

Will Flanders with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty said Act 10 has saved local taxpayers more than $16 billion.

“Ending Act 10 would have a devastating effect on the budgets of school districts and municipalities. It’s too late to go back in time,” Flanders said.

Act 10 limited public sector union contract negotiations to salaries only. It also capped those salary increases to the rate of inflation.

Wisconsin’s largest teachers’ union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, on Thursday said those negotiation limits have left teachers behind.

“Union members are filing the lawsuit now because of the dire situation that exists in our workplaces,” the union said in a statement. “Low pay, staffing shortages and worsening working conditions are hurting our ability to deliver public services to the communities that count on us every day.”

Flanders said teachers in Wisconsin should blame their local school administrators, not a decade-old state law, for their pay situation.

“Wisconsin schools have more money now after adjusting for inflation than they did in the year 2000,” Flanders said. “The blame lies not with Republicans in the Legislature, but with districts expanding bureaucracy rather than upping teacher pay.”

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