Jon Anne Willow

pass the bill or the layoffs will begin

By - Feb 22nd, 2011 07:31 pm
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Tuesday evening, Scott Walker, taking his title from FDR, held a 10-minute “fireside chat” at the state Capitol in Madison, in which he reaffirmed his support of Senate and Assembly bills 11, or the budget repair bill.

Walker’s speech focused almost entirely on the backlash from his proposal to limit collective bargaining rights of public employees, stating again that the bill as written will  provide adequate flexibility to the state and to municipalities to run their governments more efficiently. He quoted a number of emails he’s received in the last week supporting his position. He threatened that without the bill, thousands of state workers would be laid off, starting with 1,500 as early as next week, and stated that by continuing to stall the vote, Democratic Senators were giving their indirect consent to see that happen.

Walker did not address new concerns over the provision in the bill that would allow the Department of Administration to sell or lease public utilities without the consent of the Public Service Commission, the body that currently governs them. The bill’s provision would also order the PSC to “regulate as a public utility any person who purchases or contracts for the operation of any plant under the bill.” Effectively, this clears the way for the privatization of public utilities with no oversight outside the DoA, the leadership of which is by appointment of the governor. There has been recent speculation that Walker would like to clear the way for his second biggest campaign contributors, the Koch Brothers, to purchase one or more of those utilities.

Sen. Mark Miller

In his brief rebuttal, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Minona), speaking from a hotel in Illinois, also focused on collective bargaining, and stated that the real issue is protecting workers’ rights, not compensation. He reaffirmed that the unions offered the requested financial concessions and that layoffs are not necessary. He went to say that attempting to pass the bill in four days was an attempt to “railroad the process” and urged compromise. He said “It’s time for the governor to recognize that and to allow the state workers of Wisconsin to keep their rights.”

Earlier in the day, in an ugly session, Assembly Republicans, who attempted to pull an early vote on the budget last Friday with no Democrats in chambers, arrived almost an hour late, setting the tone for a contentious debate on amendments introduced by Democrats, none of which were adopted. Debate continues, with a vote expected before the end of the session.

0 thoughts on “Walker: pass the bill or the layoffs will begin”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I fully support the Republican agenda and reject the liberal attepmts to obstruct the polictical process.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Aside from the obvious craziness of having Walker refer to his speech as a “fireside chat” [comparing himself to FDR is gross and highly offensive], he said absolutely nothing new. He is like an uneducated child, determined not to change his mind, despite facts and opinions to the contrary. He’s “dug in.” I’m not surprised to see the recall petitions already being circulated.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Doublethink like Richard’s is the problem. He implies he believes in “the political process,” but also “fully support(s) the Republican agenda” to subvert democracy. So which is it, Richard? Are you a proud and true American who defends the political rights of his fellow Americans? Or, like our GOP state senators, are you a spineless Walker lapdog willing to see his countrymen coerced, threatened and stripped of their political rights by our belligerent, overreaching and politically doomed governor?

  4. Anonymous says:

    The “fireside chat” label was probably a poke based on the fact that FDR opposed the whole concept of public sector unions (an entirely valid position), and this had just become a meme in the national debate. Walker mentions this in his phone call with the Daily Beast blogger who pretended to be David Koch, something people should listen to if they think Walker is “uneducated,” “childish,” or “politically doomed.”

    Collective bargaining rights are not “political rights”–they were negotiated by state and municipal level legislation. 25% of Wisconsin households have those rights. You do the math.

    Obama has tried to create mandated private healthcare monopolies and followed Bush with bailouts to Wall St. cronies who have walked in an out of DC “regulatory” jobs since Clinton. The Kochs also want to own politicians, as do the unions. What’s new?

  5. Anonymous says:


    Some in the world disagree with the statement that collective bargaining is not a political right.

    The right to unionized is incorporated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the United States is a signatory. Per Article 23(4) “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

    The European Union in its founding documents lauds collective bargaining as a basic civil right. Article 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of December 2000 and in Article 12 of the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers of 1989 affirm so, as does the 1961 European Social Charter of the Council of Europe (Article 6).

    Wisconsin has been a traditional leader in affirming the rights of workers. This adherence to fundamental principals of social and economic justice should not be abandoned. We have an ethical obligation to fight against the actions of our ideologically inflexible and socially irresponsible governor.

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