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Thursday
Apr142011

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to Testify on State Debt, Workers' Rights

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is on Capitol Hill Thursday to testify on an issue that catapulted him onto the national scene -- ways to handle state debt.

Walker is appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in a hearing titled "State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead."

"In Wisconsin we're making the tough choices today so we don't leave an even larger problem for the next generation," Walker said earlier this week. "I believe that by demonstrating a commitment to the future we will give businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs. Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., invited the Republican governor to testify on state debt based on his efforts to rein in Wisconsin's spending and deal with public employee pension programs.

"Rather than kick the can down the road in Wisconsin, Governor Walker's actions to cut spending and address over-compensation of public employees are putting his state government in a stronger financial position," committee chairman Darrell Issa said in a statement earlier this week.

Earlier this year, Walker sparked a political uproar in Wisconsin when he enacted legislation with steep budget cuts and took away collective bargaining rights of public workers.

But many Wisconsin workers and Democrats felt the legislation unfairly stripped union workers of their rights. Three of these workers affected by the legislation -- a nurse, firefighter, and nursing home worker -- came to Washington to sit in the audience today while wearing their work uniforms, hoping to remind Walker of the way his decisions hurt workers back home.

Jackie McElroy, a 42 year old nursing home worker from Milwaukee, Wis., said Walker is taking away workers' rights under the guise of fixing the state's budget.

"He's trying to take away my rights to bargaining. He's cutting all our funds, money for schooling, which would affect our children's education," McElroy told ABC News. ""It's not about the budget. It's about taking our rights away."

"What Governors and House Republicans are not focused on is the single best way to fix their budget problems – by putting people back to work," the SEIU said in a press release. "Gov. Scott Walker is the wrong governor to hold up as a good example of how to run a state. Gov. Walker is running Wisconsin into the ground and dividing the state into 'two Wisconsins.'"

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