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Thursday
Feb242011

Wisconsin Gov. Warns of Looming Layoffs 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker walked away from a self-imposed deadline of Friday for approving his controversial "budget repair bill" as the legislature remained embroiled in gridlock and 14 senate lawmakers remained in hiding.

Walker would not say how long he would wait for a vote on the bill that he says would balance the state's budget and repeal most union collective bargaining rights for public workers.

However, he said failure to move the bill forward could result in teacher layoffs, as well as state aid to local governments being cut by nearly $1 billion.

"Year after year politicians passed the buck and that's precisely why we are in trouble today and its got to stop," said Walker. "Its not just about protecting the taxpayers, but its also about protecting the workers."

After 50 hours of debate, the Wisconsin Assembly is closer to voting on the bill.  Still, neither Republicans nor Democrats are willing to blink first in the week-long debate that has resulted in 14 lawmakers in the Wisconsin senate fleeing their state, and has brought tens of thousands of protestors inside the Wisconsin capitol building.

Earlier it was believed that assembly Democrats and Republicans had reached a deal to speed up the vote by limiting the legislative minority to 38 amendments, all given under a strict 10 minute time frame.

But drums and faint chants of "this is what democracy looks like" continued to sound through the thick wooden doors of the assembly as Democrats charged repeatedly that Republicans were giving them an ultimatum similar to that the governor is giving the unions.

"The same deal that was given to us was given to workers, take it or leave it," said Rep. Joe Parisi (D- Madison).

The Republican leadership says they have been lax on time limits during the marathon session.

Assembly speaker Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said "time is running out before the lack of a vote forces pink slips to start going out."

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