State of Wisconsin private consultants keep right on getting pay raises

[img_assist|nid=66391|title=Public jobs down|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=235|height=153]Wisconsin state employees, if they're represented by a Scott Walker-finagled, "certified" public labor union, and assuming they will ever succeed in getting absolutely everything Walker's "collective bargaining law" allows them, will at best throw away time and money "negotiating" with the GOP authoritarians for an inflation-capped, base-wage increase.

In reality, rank and file state employees are unlikely to get anything for their trouble. Walker's current two-year budget sets aside absolutely no money in the for public employee raises -- that is, other than sizable merit pay boosts for his sometimes rather underskilled political appointees. In short: Already underpaid state employees who have gone through years of give-backs will lose more ground.

But what about private consulting firms working under contract to the state? These are firms that, studies have shown, already charge much more on average than it would cost to have currently beleagured state employees continue to do the work. Well, big surprise: Staffs of those consulting firms get raises whenever their bosses decide, and then the firms get virtually automatic upward contract adjustments from the state, without really having to renegotiate their continuing contracts.

We know this is so because of a recent exchange of internal emails between a state Department of Transportation policy analyst and Nathan Czech, the state Department of Transportation's chief consultant engineer.

In her memo, DOT analyst Tammy J Gorzlancyk asked Czech and other DOT managers: "I am wondering if an implementation plan has been developed for the addition of wage escalators into our consultant contracts.

"We are negotiating contracts that have work that extends into 2013 and we want to make sure we are handling this consistently.  Also, we don’t want to delay the submittal of these contracts, since we have the dollars scheduled in this fiscal year."

The analyst asked how the state will seek to "accommodate" the private firms.

Czech replied that wage escalators for private consultants doing state work indeed have been implemented. The maximum contract increase allowed is 2 percent, triggered whenever consulting firms give out raises to their employees.

Summing up: f you're a state employee, unionized or not, you have little if any chance under the Walker regime of getting any wage increase, and when you do, they would at best be severely limited. But for-profit private consultancies that have state government contracts? They can give out raises to their already better-paid employees whenever they like, and the state will upwardly adjust their consulting contracts accordingly, picking up the extra costs on up to an additional two percent each time.

What's wrong with this picture? And why does the state's current Republican-controlled government think this is a good deal for taxpayers? Or maybe the party doesn't care; it's happy to do these little things for consultants in return for the latter's continuing and sizable campaign contributions to the "fiscally responsible" GOP. And so the rich get richer, and the taxpayers again get fleeced.

Face it: Walker and his GOP legislative enablers are costly mistakes in office -- and the costs, for average taxpayers, anyway -- keep right on going up. Meanwhile, mainstream media echo the GOP screed that public workers are overpaid and need to be reined in. Oh, really?