By Matthew Rothschild on July 06, 2011

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker used a controversial veto tool to deprive some public sector workers of their pensions.

When he signed the budget bill into law on June 26, Walker altered a section that dealt with how public employees are vested into the state retirement system.

By crossing out 116 consecutive words and then drastically altering the meaning of the subsequent clause, Walker made it so that state employees are no longer vested in the pension system until they have worked for the state for five years, instead of being partially vested immediately.

This kind of veto in Wisconsin has been called the “Vanna White Veto” or the “Frankenstein Veto.”

Madison Protest

The voters in Wisconsin approved an amendment to the state’s constitution back in 2009 to prevent abuses by governors wielding a wild veto pen.

It prohibited governors from “creating a new sentence by combining parts of two or more sentences” of any bill or from creating a new word by “rejecting individual letters in the words” of the bill.

But look what Walker did to Section 1156k of the budget bill.

That section originally set up five tiers of partial vesting for employees working for the state for less than five years.

But with creative deletions, Walker got rid of all five tiers.

The final clause originally read: “If the participant has at least 4 years of creditable service, but less than 5 years of creditable service, the annuity amount under par. (e) shall be reduced by 10 percent.”

Walker changed that to read: “If the participant has less than 5 years of creditable service, the annuity amount under par. (e) shall be 0.”

Madison Protest

When Walker signed the budget, he released a statement about his vetoes. On this particular one, he said: “I object to this provision as it is administratively difficult and expensive to implement.” And he said the loss in pension benefits would be “relatively modest.”

Shawn Smith, the communications and legislation director of the Department of Employee Trust Funds, clarified the change: “The vesting veto means that members will not be able to take out the employer’s share of the contributions if they are not fully vested. They will, however, be able to take out their own employee contributions plus interest earnings on their share, at any time.”

Ed Sadlowski, a staff representative for AFSCME Council 40, was taken aback by Walker’s veto.

“This creates a two-tiered system and second-class citizens," he said. "It’s a heartless assault, and more thievery of working people.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Minn. Republicans Ruin July 4 Weekend.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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Capitalism is the enemy, and the ideology of growth and dominion over the Earth.

 

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John Kerry used two weak arguments to justify President Obama’s war-making.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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