As we get ready to turn our clocks ahead on Sunday, I'd like to turn the clock back this week and look at the anniversaries of two important conservative reforms.
Supporting Worker Freedom
One year ago Wednesday, on March 9, 2015, Governor Walker signed 2015 Act 1 into law, making Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state. Right to work guarantees workers the freedom to choose whether or not to be in a union, so let's take a look at the results so far.
The key factor in passing right to work was that it promotes worker freedom. Today, we see that when given the choice to decide whether or not a worker's union membership is worth the union dues, more and more workers are deciding to keep their hard-earned paychecks. In 2015, 83,000 workers exercised this freedom, deciding not to continue their union membership.
Since Wisconsin became a right-to-work state, unions have had to justify and find ways to increase their value to the employees they represent. If they don't, employees have the freedom to represent themselves and keep their union dues.
When I was elected to the Assembly in 2010, I made it a priority to protect worker freedom in Wisconsin. Last year, that goal was realized when I helped to introduce the right-to-work bill in the Assembly, and it was signed into law. One year later, Wisconsin's workers are free to decide for themselves whether or not to join a union, without worrying about losing their job.
Act 10 Saves Wisconsin's Fiscal Outlook
Another important reform has a big anniversary this week. Five years ago, on March 11, 2011, Act 10 was signed into law. Let's take a look at how the reform has benefited the entire state over the past five years:
In five years, Wisconsin has saved $5.24 billion thanks to Act 10's reforms. That comes out to $910 in savings per citizen of Wisconsin, or $2,291 in savings for every household in Wisconsin. Almost 500 units of government have saved more than $1 million, more than 100 have saved more that $6 million, and 20 have saved more than $20 million.
How have these savings been utilized? The benefits have been widespread. School boards have been able to purchase new equipment to help teachers in the classroom, local governments have used the saving to balance their budgets, and property tax cuts have been made possible.
Since the enactment of Act 10, the entire state is in a much better place today. School districts and local governments across Wisconsin have used savings to improve public education and balance budgets. Five years later, Wisconsin is much better off thanks to Act 10.