News / USA

    Wisconsin Budget Battle Continues

    Demonstrators bang drums and chant inside the state Capitol during the eighth day of protesting against Governor Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers,  in Madison, Wis., February 22, 2011
    Demonstrators bang drums and chant inside the state Capitol during the eighth day of protesting against Governor Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers, in Madison, Wis., February 22, 2011

    Multimedia

    The battle about balancing a budget in the Midwest state of Wisconsin has entered its second week, with no end in sight. 

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, is refusing to negotiate on legislation that would end collective bargaining rights for public sector employees. His proposed $137 million budget repair bill also calls for increased employee contributions to pension and health care benefits.

    Democratic lawmakers opposed to the bill have fled the state to prevent the measure from passing. As tens of thousands of people continue to flood the state capitol of Madison to protest, other states are watching developments in Wisconsin as they prepare to tackle their own fiscal problems.

    Freezing rain and ice did not keep thousands of protesters from filing into the state capitol building in Madison, as the battle to balance Wisconsin’s budget entered its second week.

    School teachers, government workers, and even police and firefighters joined the chorus of voices in the Capitol Rotunda opposed to Governor Scott Walker’s move to end collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.

    Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin, said, “This is ground zero for the nation. We are definitely at the critical point. What happens here is going to be reflective all across the nation.”

    Mitchell admits that firefighters - along with police and other safety officers - are exempt from Walker’s controversial plan to close a $137-million budget deficit. His organization still opposes, however, changes to collective bargaining rights.

    “I think if the bill passes, it tells other governors that they can fight organized labor,” said Mitchell.

    “Wisconsin is kind of a test case,” according to Dennis Dresang, professor emeritus of Political Science and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin.  He said the final outcome of the budget fight in Wisconsin could have a ripple effect throughout the United States, especially in states facing dramatic budget deficits.

    “This is going to have the biggest implications for those states where Republicans control the Governors office and both houses of the state legislature," said Dresang. "So we’re talking especially about Ohio, for example, which seems poised to do this, Indiana, and a number of other states.”

    New Jersey Governor, Republican Chris Christie said he supports Walker. Christie is on the verge of a showdown with unions as he unveils his state budget.

    Dresang said Christie and other governors may find the resolve to limit the power of unions in their states based on what happens in Wisconsin. “If Wisconsin succeeds, I think it will embolden other states to do the same kind of thing. If it falters in Wisconsin, I think that other states may proceed a little more slowly on this and not be so drastic in terms of the kinds of rights they’re talking about taking away.”

    But the ever increasing number of people braving inclement weather in Madison just to have their voices heard is having an impact outside the state of Wisconsin, according to firefighter Mitchell.

    “We just got word that the governor of Michigan said that he doesn’t want to fight organized labor because of what he sees here in Wisconsin,” said Mitchell.

    But it appears Governor Walker does plan to continue his fight against organized labor in an effort to balance this year’s budget, and beyond. Wisconsin also faces a $3.6-billion budget shortfall over the next two years.

    "What we're proposing in this budget adjustment bill is really about our commitment to the future," said Walker. "And if we fail to make that commitment we're ultimately going to have to deal with the consequences, not only ourselves, but the consequences we'll pass on to our children and their children into the future."

    As Walker refuses to budge, Democratic lawmakers refuse to return to the state capitol to vote on the controversial measure.

    What stands in his way are 14 Democratic lawmakers. They have fled the state of Wisconsin and the Republican controlled legislature, to prevent passage of the bill.

    Lawmakers need a quorum for the measure to pass, which requires at least one Democrat to be present for the budget repair bill vote in the Republican controlled legislature.


    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora