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

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid