In a Wednesday press conference, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said that he would be forced to layoff 1,500 state workers if Democratic state senators didn’t return and allow his union busting bill to pass.
“In total we have just over $1.7 billion worth of savings in this budget repair bill and for us to lock in that savings we need one thing in particular, and that is for those 14 state senators to come back to Wisconsin to debate this bill, to participate in democracy, and allow us to move forward,” Gov. Walker said.
“For us, the alternative is, if we do not see this bill pass, for this year alone, the total number of jobs that we equated would be the equivalent of the $30 million we save by starting our wage and benefit reforms is the equivalent of 1,500 jobs,” he added.
Last week, 14 state senators left Wisconsin to protest legislation that would curb the union rights of public employees. There are 19 Republican senators, but the state legislature needs a minimum of 20 senators to be present to debate and vote on the bill.
Republicans in Wisconsin said the collective bargaining rights for public employees needs to be limited so the state can avoid laying off workers due to a short-term budget gap of $137 million.
“As I mentioned the other morning in one of the local TV shows here in town, if we are not able to pass the bill by the end of the week, for us that ultimately means at-risk notices will have to go out and ultimately that would effect 1,500 individuals,” Gov. Walker continued. “On top of that, if we don’t achieve the savings that are generated in this budget repair bill for debt restructuring by the end of the week, we lose out on about $16 million in savings.”
Democratic lawmakers said that Republicans need to negotiate with them and slow the legislative process down. Republicans currently have a majority in both the state Senate and House of Representatives.
“The governor has not done anything except insist that it has to be his way, all or nothing,” Wisconsin Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller told CBS’ The Early Show on Monday. “The governor needs to recognize that this is a democracy and in a democracy you negotiate.”
“I have great respect for our workers both the government and outside of government and I think at a time where our 7.5 percent unemployment rate is still better than the national average, we cannot afford to have anybody laid off,” Gov. Walker added.
“But unfortunately we will have little to no choice if those senate Democrats continue to hold out from allowing the Senate to move forward on a vote on this measure.”
This video is from CNN’s Newsroom, broadcast Feb. 23, 2011.