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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Paper
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Hammer time

I presume that all of my fellow home-owning citizens are in receipt of their Real Property Tax Bill, the annual assessments we pay to the state, county and municipal governments and the school district, for the privilege of living within their jurisdictions. Okay, so I'm being a little sarcastic there. The money goes for all those snowplows and streetlights and classrooms, and the people who operate them.

That's whom our cover story this week is about, those folks who work for government at all levels, sometimes referred to with the ingratiating appellation of "public servant." Freelance writer and former Isthmus editor Marc Eisen examines attitudes toward that class of workers targeted by Gov.-elect Scott Walker as symptomatic of overgrown government and its corollary, expensive government. This is a debatable proposition, especially in an area like Dane County, where a lot of the citizens are those very same "public servants."

But it was obvious from the results of the recent election that Walker's campaign utterances struck a sympathetic chord with the electorate. So now the next governor aims to make good on reining in public spending, partially at the expense of government workers.

Unions and others concerned with the welfare of the public-sector workforce are girding to fight the retrenchment and preserve their incomes and status. As Eisen recounts, they face a stiff challenge.

There was a time when the "state job" was fervently pursued because of the pay, benefits and relative security. It seems that the rising tide of economic uncertainty is lapping at the toes of even that sanctuary. Though many folks see such positions as sinecures, unproductive and expensive, others value the competence and efficiency of our public workers. Regardless, the hammer is about to come down.

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