Entries in Governor Scott Walker (9)


Romney Boosts Wisconsin Gov. Walker Ahead of Recall Election

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) —  At a Wisconsin voters’ tele-town hall Wednesday, Mitt Romney threw his support behind embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is facing a recall election after he orchestrated a law that cuts public employees’ collective bargaining rights in the state.

“Governor Walker is, in my opinion, an excellent governor, and I believe that he is right to stand up for the citizens of Wisconsin, and to insist that those people who are working in the public sector unions have rights to effect their wages, but that these benefits and retiree benefits have fallen out of line with the capacity of the state to pay them, and so I support the governor in his effort to reign in the excesses that have permeated the public sector union and government negotiations over the years,” said Romney.

This was the first tele-town hall Romney has held with Wisconsin voters ahead of their primary on April 3rd.

“This is something which a number of other states have confronted as well,” said Romney, who talks daily about the need to reduce the size of government and curtail out-of-control spending. “The state of Indiana, even my home state of Massachusetts, has reigned in the collective bargaining excesses associated with retirement benefits for future retirees.”

“I understand that current retirees are not having their benefits changed, but for future retirees collective bargaining will not include some of these retirement benefits, and I support the governor and his effort to bring fiscal responsibility to the capitol,” said Romney.

Walker’s recall election is expected to take place later this spring.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ignoring Court Order, Wisconsin Governor Publishes Union-Busting Law

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- There's debate in Wisconsin about whether a law championed by Gov. Scott Walker to strip state and locals workers of most of their collective bargaining rights took effect Saturday.

Attempting to work around a court restraining order, Walker had the Legislative Reference Bureau publish the law online.  The governor contends it's now the law of Wisconsin because of its publication and that his "administration will carry out the law as required."

Union workers and Democrats aren't buying it and, as a result, there could be additional legal action ahead.  On March 18, a judge issued an injunction after hearing from the law's opponents that Republicans possibly violated Wisconsin's open meetings law when GOP state senators passed the union-busting statute.

Technically, the measure can't become law until it's signed by the secretary of state and published in the newspaper of record, the Wisconsin State Journal.  Neither has happened.

Walker may have overreached, since nothing in Wisconsin law about what makes a state law mentions anything about the Legislative Reference Bureau.  As of now, the Wisconsin Supreme Court hasn't talked about intervening in the matter.

The issue remains a hot potato in Wisconsin.  Republicans say the law is needed to bring down massive deficits, while Democrats say its true intention is to weaken union support for their party.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Governor Ready to Sign Union-Busting Bill

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wisc.) -- It's all over in Wisconsin, but the shouting is expected to go on for quite a while after the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill that strips the state's 175,000 workers of most of their collective bargaining rights.

The measure is a huge victory for Gov. Scott Walker, who said it was necessary so that Wisconsin could put the state's fiscal house in order.  The state faces a $137 million budget shortfall that Walker says will grow to $3.6 billion in a few years without major concessions from the unions.

Critics say Walker was only playing politics and that his real motivation was weakening unions in order to weaken the Democratic Party.  Several states, including Ohio, are moving ahead with similar proposals that target the labor rights of public employees.

Walker is poised to sign the bill after the state's Assembly Thursday passed the measure 53 to 42, with no support from Democrats.  Pro-union supporters in the gallery screamed "Shame! Shame! Shame!" as GOP lawmakers exited the chamber.  Earlier, about 20 protesters were removed by police so that the Assembly members could debate the bill and cast a vote.

The Assembly's vote came a day after Senate Republicans stripped the financial provisions from the controversial bill, which enabled them to pass it without the necessary quorum.

Fourteen Democrats fled to Illinois three weeks ago to prevent a vote from taking place.  However, Senate Republicans got around their absence Wednesday with the procedural move.

The bill passed by Republicans ends collective bargaining on health benefits, pensions, hours, overtime, vacation, work schedules and sick leave or family leave, rights state and local workers have had for 50 years.  Workers can now only bargain for wage increases so long as they don't exceed the rate of inflation.

The unions had already agreed to a key concession by offering to pay more into their pensions and health plans.

Police and firefighters, who supported Walker's run for governor last fall, are exempt from the new rules.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Budget Plan: Political Payback?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As governors convened at a conference in the nation's capital this weekend, one was noticeably missing -- Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose state is embroiled in a political war over a budget proposal that threatens collective bargaining.

The political turmoil in Wisconsin and sweeping budget cuts across the country were a hot topic among the governors attending the National Governors Association's Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.

For some of the governors, what Walker is doing with his budget proposal is putting political payback ahead of what is really good for the state economy, but others say he should be praised for taking serious steps to slash spending.

"What's going on in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states is an ideological detour that does nothing to help us create jobs and move our economy forward," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, told ABC News. "I think it's a shame when some governors decide to sharpen their ideological acts in order to go after unions just because they didn't endorse them in the last election."

But several Republican governors, including Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Jan Brewer of Arizona, praised Walker's governing style in Wisconsin, saying he should be commended for his actions.

"Governor Walker, after all, is only doing something he promised to do and he ought to be commended, I think, for trying to keep his commitments," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told ABC News.

Barbour, who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2012, echoed the Indiana Republican's support of Walker and added that collective bargaining is not a right. Barbour also criticized Wisconsin Democrats for leaving the state in the middle of a vote on the budget and warned they will face retaliation in the next election. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Governor: Massive Layoffs If Democrats Don't Return

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MADISON, Wis.) -- If Wisconsin Democrats refuse to return home from Illinois to vote on a bill that could gut unions' collective bargaining power, the state will have to lay off thousands of workers.

That ultimatum was delivered Tuesday by Gov. Scott Walker in a televised address. Walker said he would be left with no choice but to fire state and government workers, the ones he says Democrats are claiming to protect.

Walker said 1,500 employees would have to be let go before the end of June if no action is taken on his budget repair bill, which would also force state and local workers to contribute much more to their pensions and health care plans.

The governor warned that up to an additional 10,000 workers would be on the chopping block if Democrats don't act quickly to vote on the bill Republicans say is designed to close Wisconsin's budget deficit.

Critics contend the legislation is a ruse to destroy the unions in Wisconsin and across the nation, since they traditionally vote Democratic.

The 14 state Democrats have been holed up at a hotel in Illinois where they've vowed to stay until Walker shows a willingness to compromise with state and local workers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Missing Wisconsin Dems Immune from Legal, Political Penalties

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Fourteen Wisconsin Democrats who have fled the state to prevent a quorum inside the state Senate face few legal and political consequences for their actions despite the unprecedented and extended nature of their absence.

The lawmakers have been hiding out in an undisclosed location in Illinois since Thursday, saying it was the only way to block Gov. Scott Walker and Republican state legislators from rapidly approving a bill that would curb rights of state employee unions and trim members' benefits.

Republicans, who accused their peers of breaking legislative rules, shirking responsibility and manipulating the democratic process, had initially dispatched the State Patrol to round them up and bring them back.

The Wisconsin Senate needs 20 lawmakers present to hold a vote on the bill. But with only 19 Republican members, at least one of the 14 Democrats must also attend.

Now with the standoff showing no sign of abating -- and lawmakers in other states weigh whether to follow in the Wisconsin Democrats' footsteps -- experts say the absconding lawmakers' tactics are legal even if highly unusual.

The state constitution requires lawmakers to fulfill their duties to the best of their abilities and allows the legislature to "compel the attendance" of absent members to reach a quorum, though the documents do not spell out what types of compulsion can be used.

But the state constitution also prohibits lawmakers from being arrested during a legislative session, unless they're accused of "treason, felony or breach of the peace."

The "murkiness" of those two provisions, said one state Democratic aide, is why they fled, despite the knowledge that they couldn't be physically detained under the law. The jurisdiction of Wisconsin State Patrol ends at the state line.

In the meantime, the Democrats are continuing to urge Gov. Walker and Republicans, who resumed consideration of some legislative business Tuesday, to separate the non-fiscal provisions from the controversial budget bill and bring them up for an independent vote.

The last time state lawmakers fled the legislature to block a vote was in Texas in 2003, when 11 Democrats went to New Mexico to stall a GOP-sponsored redistricting plan. They returned one month later, after one of the 11 Democrats defected, returning to Texas to give Republicans the quorum needed to advance the bill, which ultimately passed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: We're Broke and Can't Negotiate

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The budget stand-off between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the 14 Democratic state senators does not look like it will end anytime soon.

Monday morning, Walker told ABC News that despite seven days of protests he can't negotiate because of the state's $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

"The bottom line is we are trying to balance our budget and there really is no room to negotiate on that because we’re broke," the Republican governor said.

The 14 senators fled the state on Thursday to avoid the budget vote.  Upwards of 70,000 protestors surrounded the capitol over the weekend -- some union supporters calling on Walker to negotiate and others demanding the Democrats' return.

"If the state senators would come back we'd gladly talk to them.  The reality is they are hiding out in a different state, now they think somehow a handful of the minority can hold people hostage and the reality is if you want to participate in democracy you've got to come to where it's at and that is in the arena and the arena is in Madison, Wisconsin not in Rockford or Chicago or anywhere else outside the state of Wisconsin," Walker said.

Unions and Democrats have promised to do their part to balance the budget -- saying they will make higher health care and pension contributions equivalent to about an eight percent pay cut -- but they argue that Walker's real goal is busting their unions.  The governor dismissed those concessions arguing they would "say anything in the midst of the debate."

So the game of chicken continues.  Neither side is budging on collective bargaining rights.  But a real deadline looms this weekend.  If there's no agreement, the state will lose a chance to refinance the state’s debt, which will make the budget shortfall even worse.

"They've got to come to Wisconsin, do the job that they were elected to do, do the job they were paid to do, and if they would do that we'll sit down and talk to them," Walker said.  "But the bottom line is we can't negotiate over a budget because we’re broke and we need the money."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Governor Says Dems Have 'Failed to Do Their Jobs'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Sunday the Democratic state senators who fled the state to block a vote on his controversial budget bill have "failed to do their jobs," and he expects them to concede this week.

"If you want to participate in democracy, you've got to be in the arena, and the arena is right here in Madison, Wisconsin," Walker said on Fox News Sunday.

"My hope is that cooler minds will prevail and by some time earlier this coming week they'll show up for their job," Walker said. "Democracy is not about hiding out in another state. It's about showing up here in the capital and making the case there, and for us, we're willing to take this as long as it takes."

The bill, which would cut benefits for public employees and drastically reduce unions' collective bargaining powers, has sparked protests that stretched into a sixth day today. Union members and supporters have begun to arrive in both Madison and Green Bay, where a smaller pro-union rally is scheduled outside Packers Stadium.

More than 70,000 protestors descended on Wisconsin's capitol Saturday, many of them angry at Walker's bill, which has the backing of the Republican controlled state Senate.

But there were also supporters of Walker's bill, many of them bused in by Tea Party groups, and organizers said they would begin recall efforts against the 14 Democratic state senators who are hiding in Illinois and preventing the bill from coming to a vote on Tuesday.

Some Wisconsin doctors threw their support behind teachers protesting the Republican governor, saying they would write sick notes for teachers to skip work to demonstrate.

Wisconsin has a $137 million shortfall this year and $3.6 billion over the next two years.

Other governors facing similar budget crises are watching Wisconsin carefully. More than 40 states are facing a combined projected shortfall of $125 billion for the fiscal year of 2012. The hardest hit are California, facing a $25.5 billion gap, Texas at $13 billion, Illinois at $15 billion, New York at $9 billion and New Jersey at $10.5 billion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tea Party Descends on Wisconsin Protests

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Wisconsin Tea Party activists are weighing in on the ongoing state worker protests, bussing in picketers to counter protest and exploring measures to recall the Democratic senators that have fled to boycott the vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill.

Madison police expected approximately 100,000 people to fill the square outside the capitol building Saturday as Tea Party members' voices were added to the chorus of dissent and the protests entered their fifth day.

Tea Party members are forming two exploratory committees to recall two of the Wisconsin Democrats that fled the state on Thursday to protest the vote on the certain-to-pass bill, which will drastically cut state worker benefits and eliminate union bargaining rights.

Gov. Walker told reporters Friday that he would not "allow protesters to drown out the voice of the taxpayers," adding that he had received 19,000 supportive e-mails this week and that a "quiet majority" of the state's residents are behind his plan.

Walker has been calling upon the Democrats to return and end their "theatrics."

Wisconsin has a $137 million shortfall this year and $3.6 billion over the next two years.

Other governors facing similar budget crises are watching Wisconsin carefully. More than 40 states are facing a combined projected shortfall of $125 billion for the fiscal year of 2012. The hardest hit are California, facing a $25.5 billion gap, Texas at $13 billion, Illinois at $15 billion, New York at $9 billion and New Jersey at $10.5 billion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio