Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Sunday that thousands of demonstrators had not caused him to reconsider his plan to strip unions of collective bargaining rights.
NBC's David Gregory asked Walker why he refused a proposal by unions to accept his demand that they contribute more to pension and health care benefits if he dropped the proposal to end collective bargaining rights.
"If the unions, who it seems to me have been clear in saying that they would agree to those extra contributions, if they did that, and you say you're concerned about the budget shortfall, why not accept that?" Gregory wondered.
"But my point is, they can't," Walker replied. "There are 1,000-plus municipalities, more than 424 school districts, 72 counties, I know, I used to be a county executive for eight years. I know that collective bargaining has to be done in every jurisdiction. They can't guarantee that."
"Governor, if you're really serious about the state being broke, you have a deal that you could take, to get the contributions you need to solve the problem at hand. Why not separate that out from your views about collective bargaining?" Gregory pressed.
"But, David, my point is repeatedly, as a former local government official, I know that collective bargaining has a cost and when I'm cutting more than $1 billion from aid to local governments, in this next two-year budget, I need to do what no other governor is doing across the country."
The Republican governor repeated his threat that if 14 Democrats in the state Senate didn't return to vote on the bill, he would be forced to layoff workers.
"If we don't get these changes and the Senate Democrats don't come back, we'll be forced to make up the savings in layoffs and that's unacceptable," he said.
This video is from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast Feb. 27, 2011.