Rich Galen

When Gov. Walker unveiled his budget yesterday, there was the expected wailing and rending of flesh in the popular press including the New York Times which claimed in its headline that the budget would "slash" school aid.

Buried deep in the piece was the acknowledgement that the budget cut eight percent from school districts. Not eighty percent. Eight.

If you work for a private company - meaning not a government - and your boss told you that in order to keep your job, you were going to have to help him find eight percent in overall savings, I suspect you could do that. You could probably get close just being more mindful of how much electricity the company uses.

Here's a good idea: Require school districts to attain at least half of their budget cuts through environmentally friendly activities - turning off lights, lowering the school temperature a few degrees, caulking windows and door frames; and adding insulation, among other things.

Not only would that have the effect of burning less coal to produce electricity, but it would split the natural alliance between environmentalists and unions.

Win, as they say, win.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 14.7 million American workers who belong to a union. That's out of about 123.5 million workers. To show you why unions are so desperate to hold on to what they have, the BLS reports that in 1983 there were 17.7 million workers who belonged to unions - three million more - out of a workforce of only about 88 million - 35 million less.

Put another way, in '83 over 20 percent of the workforce were union members. Today that's reduced to only 11.9 percent. And it is continuing to fall.

Union leaders will pull out every trick to try and stop Gov. Walker from winning this fight, but in the end I think he will prevail and Wisconsin's public unions will lose their free pass to taxpayers' bank accounts.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at