UPDATE (3/27): Word is out that Senate President Peter Bragdon has confirmed on WMUR’s Close Up that not a single senator will support the budget with the collective bargaining amendment in it.
(original post follows)
From my upcoming column in the Brentwood Newsletter:
Lastly, there has been a lot of talk in the news about a recently introduced amendment to the state budget that would strip public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights, in the event that a contract was not renewed at the time it expired. Without even getting to the merits of the amendment, the fact that this is even being introduced as an amendment is very troubling to me, as well as several other Republican representatives I’ve spoken to about this.
This is much more than an amendment seeking to change the wording or punctuation in a previously proposed and debated piece of legislation. It is a major policy change, and as such should be introduced as a stand-alone bill and subjected to the same open and transparent process, as any other significant piece of legislation (e.g. Right to Work, Evergreen repeal) must be.
A lot of us were rightfully upset when the campground tax was passed in such a manner as to bypass the full and open public hearing and debate process. Likewise, in 2009 when members of a House committee took it upon themselves to pass the State House gun ban, I joined the chorus of complaints over the lack of transparency and the bypassing of proper legislative channels that took place to enact a major change in policy.
Process matters, and I will not support any attempt to pass legislation or any amendment thereto, which seeks to keep the voters “out of the loop”, and be made law behind closed doors or under the cover of darkness.
More here from WMUR.
Don’t get me wrong. If this amendment has merit, I could very well vote in favor of it. But only after it’s been vetted by the public in an open and transparent fashion. I think I’d rather see what happens to HB474, the “right to work” bill we passed in the House last month, given that state mandated Evergreen clauses have now been done away with.
My position that public sector employees need to have as much skin in the game as their private sector counterparts, where our economic recovery is concerned, has not changed one iota since running for office.
I’ve heard several unionized public employees argue their case against union-limiting legislation, saying “they’re taxpayers too”. Of course, their tax dollars are not contributing toward the health care benefits and retirement packages of their private sector, tax paying neighbors.