Wisconsin governor to outline ultimate intentions in budget
Monday, February 28, 2011
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s explosive proposal to take nearly all collective bargaining rights away from most public workers represents just one piece of his vision for the state’s future. Now he’s ready to reveal the rest.
With the union rights proposal stuck in a legislative stalemate thanks to runaway Senate Democrats, Walker planned to forge ahead with the Tuesday release of his two-year spending plan that will include major cuts to schools and local governments to help close a projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall.
Tens of thousands of protesters have demonstrated for two weeks against the Republican governor’s collective bargaining proposal, which he calls necessary to free local governments from having to bargain with public employee unions as they deal with the cuts he’ll outline Tuesday.
Schools last week started putting teachers on notice that their contracts may not be renewed for next year given the budget uncertainty. Walker has confirmed he will propose cutting education aid by about $900 million, or 9 percent statewide.
Labor leaders and Democratic lawmakers say Walker’s proposal is intended to undermine unions and weaken a key Democratic voter base. The state’s largest public employee union filed a complaint Monday alleging Walker has engaged in unfair labor practices by refusing to negotiate.
Walker insists Wisconsin is broke and has nothing to offer. He spent another day touring the state Monday, renewing his threat of deeper cuts and layoffs if his proposal isn’t passed by Tuesday. If the state misses that deadline, it won’t be able to save $165 million through debt refinancing, which was a key part of his bill, Walker said.
Walker has warned he will start issuing layoff notices to state workers as soon as this week if the bill isn’t passed, but he hasn’t said who would be targeted.