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For years, public sector unions have hoped that their employers would forget that they were their employers; that they could advance independent of the same demands that workers in the private sector face, such as performance review and a competitive marketplace. November demonstrated that the voters are no longer standing for this, and governors in these states are following through on the voters’ demands.
But the voters are not the only ones who recognize that the old way of doing things needs reform. The books say so as well. Even governors and public officials without a mandate to cut government are recognizing that this is what current numbers dictate. Officials in the bluest of states are taking action. But this realization is not universal. Even now, Wisconsin’s state senators have not returned to Madison and are even being encouraged to stay in Illinois by Governor Quinn.
As John Kass writes in the Chicago Tribune: “. . . [these state senators are] fleeing responsibility in a time of massive budget deficits in their own states, which is why they’re called the Flee Party. And they’ve come [to Illinois] where it’s ideologically safe.” Governor Quinn’s solutions for Illinois’s own budgetary crisis—higher taxes, less freedom—is likely many on the Left’s model for how to solve a fiscal emergency, but entrepreneur legislators of both the Republican and Democratic parties are realizing that they cannot solve their crises without confronting the politics which created these crises to begin with.
It may take another fiscal crisis before Illinois’s governor realizes that he will have to cut spending as enthusiastically as he raises taxes, but the voters of Wisconsin and Indiana demonstrated last November that they understood what the numbers said. Their state senators cannot hide in Illinois forever; the citizens of Wisconsin and Indiana—their employers—expect them to do their job before reality becomes harder than it already is.