What is WMC’s goal with providing the following information regarding the Gubernatorial Recall Election?
As Wisconsin’s leading business advocacy organization, WMC aims to provide members with factual information to make informed decisions.
What is a recall and why are we having one?
A recall is a special election where an elected official is required to re-run for his or her office before his or her term expires. The purpose of a recall election in many other states is to end someone’s term early because of illegal, immoral or unethical behavior. In Wisconsin, however, a recall election is triggered if at least 25% of the number of people who voted in the last election sign a recall petition, regardless of the actions of the elected officials.
While most states with recall laws simply ask voters whether or not the target of the recall should be removed from office, Wisconsin is more complicated. The opposition party places candidates on the ballot to oppose the recall targets; the Wisconsin recall process actually functions like a special election.
Governor Walker is facing a recall election mainly because he introduced and signed legislation last year titled Act 10. The recall efforts are being driven by public sector employee unions and their supporters in response to Act 10. Recall elections are rare and this one is unprecedented because the Governor is primarily facing one as a result of a policy dispute. Policy disputes are generally resolved in general elections.
What is Act 10 and how did we get here?
Governor Walker has stated that the purpose of Act 10 was to provide a long term fix to balance Wisconsin’s state budget. Wisconsin is required by law to balance its budget. However, it was common practice in many previous years to use budget gimmicks which only offer the appearance of a balanced budget.
Governor Walker was faced with a $3.6 billion budget shortfall at the start of his term. This was one of the largest budget shortfalls in the nation on a per capita basis.
Governor Walker focused on eliminating the budget deficit by controlling state spending rather than increasing state taxes to balance the budget. As a result, hard decisions were made regarding budget allocations including K-12 education, the University of Wisconsin system, and aid for county and municipal governments.
Act 10 was designed to give public school boards, counties, and municipalities the tools they need to manage the reduced funding. Those tools include allowing these organizations to require their employees to pay more toward their retirement and health insurance, limiting union bargaining solely to wage issues, and limiting wage increases to the rate of inflation.
Additionally, school boards are not required to use the teacher’s union insurance plan and are allowed to shop for health insurance.
As a result of these changes the state budget was balanced:
• Without a state tax increase
• With no significant statewide property tax increases
• Without mass layoffs of state or local government employees
• Without significant government service cuts
Will a recall bring about immediate repeal of Act 10 legislation?
No, any changes in legislation will need to follow the normal legislative process in the senate and assembly.
How much will the recall election cost?
Municipalities and counties are forced to use taxpayer dollars to pay for the recall election process. Fox 11 News in Green Bay ran a story on what it is costing the Green Bay area. View the information from the Government Accountability Board to see the estimates for your county.
What other business concerns are there if the recall is successful?
Wisconsin had a reputation among key decision makers in the business community as being a difficult place to conduct business. The current administration has significantly improved the state’s reputation through actions that include not only reducing government spending and implementing Act 10, but also streamlining regulations and approving other legislation.
The business community is concerned that businesses will once again operate in an unfriendly business environment if the recall election is successful. It is important that businesses have confidence to conduct their operations in Wisconsin because businesses are a major source of jobs and are one of the main drivers of our state’s economic engine.
What can I do?
If you agree that this is an important issue, we encourage you to share this information with your employees and talk to them about it. Employers are allowed to provide information to their employees regarding issues that will directly impact their industry, and ultimately their jobs. However, employers must NOT expressly advocate the election or defeat of a specific candidate, and threats by employers to influence political opinions or actions are prohibited.
View a series of fact sheets that you can share with your employees. Encourage your employees to research the facts, make a decision for themselves, and most importantly – to vote!
Contact WMC with any questions, 608.258.3400.