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

Kane Farabaugh

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.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid