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Wis. State Supreme Court to hear opening arguments on Act 10 Monday

A look at how Act 10 has impacted the state
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)--Two and a half years after being signed into law, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on why Act 10 is unconstitutional.

It was decision that divided the state and sparked countless protests.

“Workers not only lost many of their working rights, they can’t bargain for working conditions, safety pre-cautions," said AFL-CIO Fox Valley President Mark Westphal.

Act 10 was a Republican backed legislation that struck most collective bargaining rights for public sector union workers.

“Scott Walker struck that all away in a very short time with very limited debate without getting much input from the citizens of Wisconsin," said Westphal.

But Republicans argued it saved the state millions of dollars. 

“We had a $3.6 billion deficit that we were facing when we came in.  After Act 10, just 2.5 years, we’ve ended October with a $700 million surplus," said Republican State Rep. Jim Steineke of the town of Vandenbroek.  

While it may have saved tax payers millions –it costs thousands of union workers part of their pensions and rising health care costs. 

A recent MacIver Institute study showed the impact Act 10 had on the state.  School Districts saw cuts amounting to $1.86 billion, municipalities--$242.5 million, State Retirement-- $226 billion, and State Health Care-- $82 million among many other costs.

 “We’ve seen over $2 billion in savings statewide," said Rep. Steineke. 

According to Governor Walker, that savings has gone back into the pockets of taxpayers.

Governor Walker’s Office released this statement to Local 5 News saying quote "We were able to put more money back into public schools, lower the tax burden on Wisconsin families, and provide $100 million in property tax relief for Wisconsin families.

But has the quality of education suffered as a result?

“Teachers are going to be loaded up with greater expectations even for performing beyond what their normal duties were," said retired teacher Nancy Biese.

Nancy was a teacher for 33 years.  After Act 10 went into effect she was going to have to pay into her own pension so she retired.  

“Money that goes in our pension is really payment for our time of service and in lieu of that, lower salaries were accepted at the negotiating table," said Biese.

Like Biese, many teachers felt Act 10 was unjust and sued the government.  Now the fate of Act 10 lies in the hands of the State Supreme Court.

Opening arguments begin Monday in Madison but Local 5 is told that a decision won't be made for several months.

 



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