February 18, 2011

'I've lost sleep, agonized and prayed' over this,
says Wanggaard in open letter to county residents

State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-21st District, sent the media "An Open Letter to the People of Racine County" this morning. In it he apologizes for his full -- and "impossible to empty" -- voicemail box, says he has "agonized and lost sleep" over the upcoming vote, and he details the "workplace protections" that will remain if the bill is passed. He also notes his own union background and the state's "budget crisis." On Wednesday, Wanggaard said he would vote for the governor's "budget-repair" bill.

Here's Wanggaard's letter:

An Open Letter to the People of Racine County

First, allow me thank those who called, emailed, and visited me in Madison over the past week. The vast majority of those citizens have been courteous and respectful. I want everyone to know that, and I want to thank you for that. My office has been overwhelmed with phone calls and emails from constituents sharing their concerns about the budget repair bill. Our voicemail box has been full since Sunday and impossible to empty. To those who could not get through, I apologize—we did the best we could.

I ran for State Senate because Wisconsin is in crisis. I took the oath of office with the knowledge that the state’s current fiscal path is not sustainable in the long term. Over the last six weeks, as I have been briefed on the state of Wisconsin finances, my thoughts have changed. I now know that Wisconsin’s budget trajectory is not sustainable even in the short term.

Wisconsin has a $3.6 billion deficit. We owe over $56 million to the state of Minnesota, accruing interest daily. We owe $200 million to the Patients Compensation Fund. To continue meeting the health needs of Wisconsin families, Medicaid requires an additional $153 million by June 30th. Our budget crisis is not in six months. It is now.

I never imagined I would be voting on something as emotionally charged as this budget repair bill. This debate is not just emotional for the thousands who emailed, called and visited my office over the last week— it is emotional and personal for me. My daughter is a teacher. My neighbors and friends are union. I was a negotiator for the Racine Police Association and a proud public union member for thirty years. I know, personally, the value of opposing parties coming together to find mutual agreement.

But Wisconsin’s budget shortfall can be ignored no longer. The simple truth is this: collective bargaining is changing because Wisconsin’s fiscal crisis demands it. I have heard the concerns of my constituents that they would lose crucial workplace protections. I have worked with my Senate colleagues to ensure that workers at the state and local level, including teachers, have these workplace protections. It is important to note that:
  • State and local employees who have civil service protections for grievance and discipline retain those rights.
  • Public workers serving without these protections will now have those protections.
  • Progressive Discipline still exists.
  • Just Cause is still required for termination.
  • Workplace safety must be addressed at all levels of government
  • Workers retain the right to have a representative present at any grievance, termination, or discipline hearing.
  • The union still exists.
 I would not have supported the bill without these additional worker protections.

I believe this will be the most difficult vote I will ever take. I have lost sleep over this vote, I have agonized over this vote and I have prayed for guidance on this vote. No compromise is perfect and it is said that a good compromise leaves everyone unhappy. That is certainly the case today.

I have debated, argued, fought, and fought some more to retain and add these critical worker protections. The alternatives are no protections and no worker rights or massive worker layoffs. I would much rather have workers keep their jobs and their protections.

This bill has my support because it is better than the alternatives.

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  1. Thank the lord he prayed over this! Maybe instead of towing the party line he should do what is best for his daughter, friends, neighbors and former co-workers in the sheriff's department and vote NO!

  2. This bill is an easier solution that simply restructruing Wisconsin's long term debt obligations, taking advantage of lower interest rates? Passing this bill is easier than simply finding the spending offsets to pay for the bills that YOU voted for in the special legislative session earlier this year? You know, the bills that created this $137 million deficit that so urgently must be dealt with. As recently as January 31st, your own fiscal bureau estimated that we would end the fiscal year with a $121 million surplus. You squandered that money, not the public employee unions. And yet now you want them to pay for it with the benefits that they have collectively bargained for over the last half century. Your disingenuous apology to the people of Racine County is as transparent as your lame attempts to make this bill "better." Shame on you.

  3. He could have just chatted with the Archbishop of Milwaukee and gotten much better advice he did by listening to the voices in his head.

  4. Ideological Stooge. "Praying" so he could feel like he did something without having done anything at all. The framing of this budget shortfall because of their recent "special" legislation as a "crisis" is lame. Give corporations tax breaks and make up the money from middle class pension and wage concessions. The agonizing must have been trying to justify blind ideology. It's union busting plain and simple. I'd have more respect if he just said so.

  5. Adios ex Amigo!

  6. The voices in his head were the Koch brothers who now own and operate the republican party, bought the govenor [was #2 in campaign donations]. Wangaard will not think for himself. He is now the property of the billionaire right wingers. Sorry Van, some of know you alot better.

  7. You wanted this job. You ran as a Republican and received party support. You need to quit wobbling and man up!

  8. Poor, Van! Accepted labor's support and then kicked them in the nads within a month of taking office. Gonna be a long four years ... if you make it that long without a recall.

  9. Senator Wanggard: take comfort in the fact that your taxpaying constituents who understand simple math and the reality of Wisconsin's troubled economic situation fully support you in your vote for Gov. Walker's bill. Anyone who is immature enough to use unionistic bully tactics to try and force taxpayers to give them what they want should be lucky that this bill lets them keep their jobs. I think everyone would agree, a job with fewer perks is still a job. If you don't agree, then quit and the state can save money that way.

  10. He better learn how to stick to his values with confidence and not waffle over his decisions. Nobody will reelect that kind of attitude.
    The "business tax cuts" that were passed in January don't take effect until the next budget, so they have ZERO impact on the current year shortfall, which is also due to spending greater than budget to the amount of about 146 million.
    Restructuring debt will most likely part of the new budget proposal, but refinancing still does reduce the debt. Is that how you pay your bills? Just keep refi-ing it? Had to move the principle that way.
    I also really thought the teacher organization was a professional group, but the display put on this week, and the shirking of job responsibilities, is very selfish.

  11. It's a shame that hard choices have to be made -- maybe, but soft choices over a long period of time have culminated in what I believe is a real crisis. Stay the course and confirm the budget repair bill.

    Consider a suspension of collective bargaining scope with a sunset -- say three years -- rather than outright cancellation. The main reason for immediate seems to be the need to substitute benefit cost sharing for pay cuts and job terminations. State workers and their representatives haven't collectively offered alternatives.

  12. he better pray he's going to hell if he votes yes!

  13. This isn't waffling. It's an emotional issue for a man who has spent his life in public service and as part of a union. If he's saying this is the best bill there is for the crisis that WI is in, I believe him. All you need is a pad of paper, a pencil, and calculator to see that the numbers don't add up. You can't continue to spend money you don't have. This whole spending more money than we take in attitude has got to go. With the added protections, he should vote yes. If he's 1 and done then it's the state of WI loss.

    And shame on you for saying he's going to hell if he votes yes.

  14. No, the loss Wisconsin just experienced was that of a Police Officer and life long union supporter becoming a politician. The union extended it's hand on compromise today and the governor Van is supporting slapped that hand away.

  15. Anon 6:13--

    You are completely missing the point. Yes, spending money that the state doesn't have in unsustainable. However, up until the special legislative session earlier this year, we were on track for a $121 million dollar surplus (and please don't try to refute that number, it comes from the non-partisan fiscal bureau that both parties use to score their bill and get budget estimates). It was only after the Republican controlled legislature--with Sen. Wanggaard in lock step--passed new spending bills without paying for them that the surplus became a deficit. So you can see why his agony is complete hypocrisy. You can't bemoan the lack of fiscal discipline in this state when it's your actions that have created the gap this budget repair bill purports to close. So he can say whatever he wants, but Sen. Wanggaard is just plain wrong to vote for this bill. He should come back to Racine and hold listening sessions in his district to find out where his constituents stand, then vote accordingly. That is democracy.

  16. DEMOCRACY! That is the operative word!!!

  17. Wanggaard knows there are many alternatives and no need to end collective bargaining, but he does not have sufficient intestinal fortitude to do what he knows is right.
    Wanggaard had an opportunity to broker a settlement, but blew it.
    Thanks again to the 14 Democratic Senators that have shown some guts.

  18. Looking in my crystal ball

    Headlines will read some day

    The massive Complex will include a modern new high tech Public Library, Fine Arts Museum, Heritage Museum and a large Theater for stage and music productions. all under one roof with a public mall space in the center. The complex is to be built on City parkland just south of the Racine Zoo.

    A member of the Johnson family remarked at the ribbon cutting - "The best interests of our home town have always been our first priority"

    Laugh now!! But I've seen crazier things happen in my short life. Maybe I'm a dreamer? But so was the original Samuel C. Johnson and look what happened to his dream.
    2/03/2010 9:14 AM

    Interesting it was a YMCA I was seeing!

    Now I see Van Wanggaard recalled! Even Voss may be booted.

  19. No way he gets recalled. No way anyone gets recalled. The silent majority in Wisconsin is behind this bill. Even with a "surplus" of 121 million there's still a shortfall of over 3 billion over the next 3 years.. those are numbers you can't refute. you don't have the votes to recall anyone.

  20. Looks like we elected another George Petak.

    Our Ball park "TAX" hero !!! Thanks again George!!

    You'll be alright Senator Wanggaard -- when your recalled Scotty will give you a higher paying job there in Madison. That's if he's not thrown out of office too.

  21. Badgercare expenses are way over spent this biannual budget, along with 60 million we owe Minnesota that was never in the budget; there is were the current 146 million dollar deficit is coming from.
    The new business stimulus is NOT part of this budget, but part of the one being proposed to be in effect July 1, and introduced March 1.
    Please, let's do some research before we just repeat the BS we overhead someone say at the gas station and state it as fact.

  22. May we call Wangaard supporters "Wankkars"?

  23. Wanggaard's entire career is indebted to collective bargaining and workplace protection unions provide. When he was disabled, unions made good on his contributions and made sure he had a pension.

    Now he turns around and stabs 175,ooo public servants in the back with this bill that has NOTHING to do with the budget.

    As he returns to Racine for the weekend I encourage everyone in his district to contact him and tell him to vote no.

  24. Isn't this Wanggaard who implores the Democrats to come and debate this bill the same man who refused to go to any of the political debates scheduled during his campaign, in fear people would hear what he actually believed, or knew?

  25. Northern Pike2/19/2011 9:02 AM

    Wanggaard gets those wonderful government benefits and pulls the ladder up from behind.

    I suspect he's getting more sleep than he lets on.

  26. van, you have failed your constituents and yourself. you, and the rest of the republican party have shown yourself to oppose the rights of workers to collective bargaining. The budget can be balanced without throwing union labor under the bus and you know it.

  27. he has sold out all working families in the state of Wisconsin, he can try to justify it by phony arguments of balancing the budget which can be balanced by workers concessions which they are agreeing to. these people have no conscious but they cannot escape karma.

  28. Sold his soul to the devils

  29. What's all the hand wringing about? Take a stand. You should be chomping at the bit to vote with Walker. Or was your campaign all about fooling the taxpayers into thinking you were on their side vs. that of the union goobers? Be careful about these letters. They make you look weak.

  30. BTW, anyone who doesn't have the guts to put their names on their posts shouldn't have any expectations that their comments will be taken seriously. Anonymous is synonymous with coward.

  31. Oct. 6, 1995: At 5 a.m., after an all-night session of the Wisconsin Senate, Sen. George Petak, R-Racine, switches his vote, enabling the plan to use taxpayer money to build a retractable-roof stadium for the Brewers to pass by a 16-15 margin. (The switch costs Petak his seat in the Senate: On June 4, 1996, he loses to Rep. Kim Plache, D-Racine, in a recall election.)

  32. Thanks, Van!

  33. Ever notice how all the Senate Republicans have the same message. The message Kapanke posted is almost verbatim to Van Wanggaard's. It seems that the Senate Republicans have no opinion of their own.

  34. Van Wanggaard, you are a hypocrite and have stabbed your brothers and sisters in the union in the back. Not only have you taken sides with saying only certain public workers are important and should not pay into their retirement fund, but you have also told the police and fire they do not have to lose their bargaining rights. I have spoken to you an several occasions regarding various issues, and I have always come away with an uneasy feeling about you. You are disengenuous in what you say. You are arrogant and have forgotten where you came from. You have lost my vote.

  35. van wanggaard still serves on the police and pire commission while serving as state senator. looks like he wants to continue giving his buddies in police and fire favors. contact the commission members and tell them what you think of van:

    Police and Fire Commission:
    Keith Rogers
    1520 Kearney Ave.
    Term Ends: May, 2015

    Chuck Tyler
    1027 Perry Ave.
    Term Ends: May, 2011

    Marie Black
    2906 Rosalind Ave.
    Term Ends: May, 2012

    Van Wanggaard
    1246 Blaine Ave.
    Term Ends: May, 2013

    Charles W. Johnson
    3801 Lighthouse Dr.
    Term Ends: May, 2014

  36. Van the only thing you agonized about was what people would do once they found out what you were really about. Stick it to eveyone but your police and fire buds. You have lost 6 votes from within my immediate family.

  37. Shameful to turn your back on the legacy of "Fighting Bob" La Follette:


  38. I have more respect for the Demcratic 14 than I do for Van Wangaard. Shame on you! The Dem 14 or whatever you call them have more balls than Van could ever dream about, yes, that includes the brave female senator who is 6 months pregnant!

    Shame on Van, well, recall him

    EX republican party supporter!

  39. 1. Union busting is a smoke screen to cover the REALLY controversial change in the budget bill.

    16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

    1.) Koch Industries already owns some major companies in the state.

    2.) Koch Bros (owners of Koch Industries) were Gov Walker's second largest donor, reportedly $43,000.

    3.) The Koch Bros-funded 'American Majority' group bussed in pro-Walker protestors Saturday to keep the focus on the union busting.

    4.) Section 44 16.896 of the budget is amended to allow for no-bid sale of STATE-OWNED power plants to private companies without concern for public interests.

    Gov Walker is positioning the budget bill to repay the Koch Bros for his campaign support by having a private fire sale of state property for them.

    Story and citation credit goes to Rortybomb


  40. mlasee
    1st legislative act: $1,400,000.00 tax break
    2nd legislative act: pull $1,400,000.00 back from public worker compensation
    NET RESULT: No gain on state structural debt of $3,400,000,000.00

    Moral of the Story:
    1 – Income redistribution Sponsored by your legislature
    2 – Trickle down economic theory, problem is, cash flowing up, URINE flowing down
    3 – How is collective bargaining related to wage and benefit concessions? It is when a major source of your opponents fundraising comes from labor unions…


    I think there were a few more giveaways that I may have missed… I am sooooo tired of hearing about the poor rich man… They have the means to buy their justice and legislation, and the rest of us get to celebrate when they trickle down their uremic manna. You well know this issue is not about saving any money… Wake up!!!!! This is about a pure and simple snuffing out of campaign contributions to the Democratic Party. I guess the citizens united case was not enough to fill Republican Coffers, then again, I am not surprised, having it all is still not good enough as is evidenced by the top 1% controlling more wealth than at any other time in history. Brief history of the grand Middle Class ripoff:
    S&L crisis 1
    S&L crisis 2
    World com
    Bank bailout 1-100
    Iraq war II
    (remind me again who went to jail in any of these grand middle class taxpayer ripoff’s???)

    I get a kick out of the drive by talking points, no rebuttal? no thoughts? Too difficult to engage in a discussion? I understand it is much easier to let others do the thinking for you, go back to your Koch Brothers, ALEC, Ayn Rand, Rovian, Limbaugh / Beck Programming… I am sure they will solve all of your problems… Keep wishing and hoping to catch a few scraps from their tables of plenty. Keep feeding those “Parasites” but be careful, they are never sated.


    I find it Ironic that you do not address the $140,000,000.00 Tax Givaway (Decrease in State Revenue = Increase in deficit) to the highest income earners in the state is not mentioned in your post.

    I am not offering anywhere in my posts that there is not a State Budget Deficit. I am stating that in these tough economic times we should not be further digging a hole in our Budget by giving tax breaks to the highest income earners in the State of Wisconsin.

    However it is Spun… the State Legislature is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to High income earners and shifting that burden to the middle class. You say we have a deficit, I agree and accept PERSONAL INCOME DECREASES, You then GIVE those revenues that were GIVEN UP to a Small Percentage of HIGH INCOME EARNERS. This is Social engineering (which you rail against) of the worst kind. Give to the Wealthy, and take from the middle class, somehow expecting Uremic Manna to trickle down from the highest earners in the State…

    Make no Mistake, this is not about getting a fiscal house in order. This is about the cutting off campaign support for anyone that does not agree with the hard core Right Wing Moneyed Lobby and their BANKROLLED LEGISLATURE.

    If this was really about getting a fiscal house in order, there would not have been a $140,000,000.00 million givaway to Highest Income Earners. Instead we would NOT have given the revenue away, worked to extract wage concessions, and plowed both sources of money at our Structural Deficit.

    I guess it is the best Quadruple Whammy they could come up with… Give Money away to Millionares, Place the burden to backfill the hole created on the Middle Class, Take away a funding source for their opponents, Get rid of collective Bargaining so they can come back for rounds 2, 3, to raise more revenue so they can offset the budget Crisis they Created by giving more tax breaks to Millionaires… All Predicated on the Uremic Manna Economic Theory…

  41. The Bay View Massacre (sometimes also referred to as the Bay View Tragedy) was the culmination of events that began on Saturday May 1, 1886 when 7,000 building-trades workers joined with 5,000 Polish laborers who had organized at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to strike against their employers, demanding an eight-hour work day. By Monday, these numbers had increased to over 14,000 workers that gathered at the Milwaukee Iron Company rolling mill in Bay View. They were met by 250 National Guardsmen under order from Republican Governor Jeremiah M. Rusk to "shoot to kill" any strikers who attempted to enter. Workers camped in the nearby fields and the Kosciuszko Militia arrived by May 4. Early the next day the crowd, which by this time contained children, approached the mill and were fired upon. Seven people died as a result, including a thirteen-year-old boy.[1] Several more were injured during the protest.

    Is Scotty related to this guy?

  42. 'I've lost sleep, agonized and prayed' over this, says Wanggaard in open letter to county residents. He should tell the truth for once. He is maybe, maybe feeling guilty for turning his back on public employees -- police and fire included. If he is praying, perhaps he asking that no one will notice. What a Benedict Arnold. He got his, now its your problem. I wish he would leave God out of his support for a partisan governor, who not only wants to destroy the very same unions that moved Wangaard along, but also demands in this legislation to set up his own "Death Pannels" to decided Medicare and Medicaid isssues without the checks and ballances of the legislature. Van, you are fooling no one but yourself. Please have enough respect for God to leave himm out of your dirty works and politics.

  43. Let's be honest and say that so much in the so-called "budget repair bill" has nothing to do with the budget. It has to do with forwarding the agenda of Republicans, union-busting and big business interests.

  44. http://host.madison.com/wsj/article_531276b6-3f6a-11e0-b288-001cc4c002e0.html
    This is the guy that wangaard supports...

    Walker: But in the end, this is, and this is, I even pointed it out last night ’cause I’m trying to keep out the, as many of the private unions as possible, I said this is about the budget, this is about public-sector unions. Hell, even FDR got it. Um, there’s no place for the kind of, uh, I mean, essentially you’re having taxpayer money be used to pay to lobby for spending more taxpayers’ money. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

    (Murphy as Koch): Beautiful.

    Walker: So it’s, uh, this is ground zero, there’s no doubt about it. But, uh, I think, you know, for us, I just keep telling, I call, I tell the speaker, the senate majority leader every night, give me a list of the people I need to call at home, to shore ’em up. The New York Times, of all things, I don’t normally tell people to read the New York Times, but the front page of the New York Times has got a great story, one of these unbelievable moments of true journalism, what is supposed to be objective journalism. They got out of the capital and went down one county south of the capital to Janesville, to Rock County, that’s where the General Motors plant once was.

    (Murphy As Koch): Right, right.
    Koch Bros. have a lobbyist office in Mad-city...