Any hopes the Democrats and unions had of reversing the Republican agenda in Wisconsin died in the 8th District senate recall election Tuesday.
When Alberta Darling eked a win in the face of massive union investment in the race against Rep. Sandy Pasch, the GOP majority in the Legislature was assured at least through 2012. Coupled with a Republican in the statehouse, probably through 2014, the ramifications for retaining the majority in the Assembly and Senate are many:
* The state remains split right down the middle politically, as evidenced by the closeness of results in the recall contests and the resulting 17-16 GOP margin in the state senate.
* The GOP’s union-breaking legislation will stay intact. Collective bargaining over benefits by public unions is gone for forseeable future.
* So is automatic collection of union dues.
* Recertification of unions on an annual basis will become a reality.
* Local units of government and school districts, which have taken only baby steps toward containing benefit costs, will follow the lead in the private sector toward more intelligent and aggressive management. So far, most units have only bid out their health care business and raised contributions for pensions and health care. Ahead are more funanmenttal reforms, like on-site primary care, consumer drive health plans and transparency of health care costs and quality.
* The job creation agenda, which got some attention in the initial session of the GOP-controled legdislatuare, will get more attention in the fall. Expect a Fund of Funds bill to pass to stimulate early stage investing in Wisconsin startups. Expect a plan for increased loans to small businesses. Entrepreneurs are the job creators.
*Unions across the country will be chastened by the failure to take back the Wisconsin senate. They shot their wad on the six recalll races in Wisconsin and didn’t get the job done.
* Expect the Democrats and unions to give it one more go in 2012 by trying to recall Gov. Walker. They have little to lose by such an effort. That will be a high stakes poker game like the state has never seen before.