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Governor Scott Walker not backing down

By   /   February 17, 2011  /   43 Comments

By Kevin Lee     Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — With more than a hundred union supporters protesting just outside his office, Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday announced he would not budge on eliminating most collective bargaining rights from public employees.

Walker introduced a budget repair bill focused on adjusting the state’s budget until July but drew the ire of public employee unions by eliminating their ability to negotiate on matters such as health care benefits, pensions and vacation time.

In a news conference in the Wisconsin Capitol, the governor reiterated that the move would give state and local governments maximum flexibility to manage their budgets.

“As an elected official at the local level for more than eight years, I can tell you, (you) can’t pass a budget on a hope and a prayer that every school district, county board, town board, city council is somehow magically going to reach the same conclusion when it comes to concessions,” he said.

Walker called on Senate Democrats to come back to the Capitol after Democrats fled the state in order to delay the vote on his budget repair proposal. The governor criticized the move as a “stunt.”

Republicans hold a 19-14 majority in the state Senate but need at least one Democrat to be present in the Senate chamber in order to take a vote on a budget matter.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said he talked to Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, via phone on Thursday.

“They don’t work for the governor,” Barca said in reference to Senate Democrats. “They work for the citizens of this state. And they feel the citizens of this state want to take a little more time (to consider Walker’s bill).”

Barca said the state Senate is likely to take action first, but would not comment on whether Democratic representatives would initiate a walkout.

The state Senate adjourned for Thursday and would reconvene Friday if Democrats returned.

The Department of Administration estimates 25,000 people visited the Capitol and reported nine arrests as of Thursday afternoon, most of those due to disorderly conduct, according to Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney.

Mahoney said patrolmen from more than a dozen state and local law enforcement agencies were working together to maintain the safety of Capitol protesters and state officials.

“We understand we’re dealing with people’s lives and livelihoods,” he said. “We’re exercising extreme measures of tolerance.”

Thursday marked the most vociferous day of peaceful demonstrations yet, with police establishing a one-block, no-traffic barrier outside the Capitol for most of the day.

More than 20 school districts announced closures late Wednesday night after hundreds of teachers called in sick at the request of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, a state teacher’s union.

Protests have been escalating in noise and number of participants since last Friday, when Walker first announced his budget repair bill.


  • Elaine A Chandler

    Great! Keep up the good work.Just what we needed. Glad we voted for you.

  • Annabelle Humphrey

    I worked for Green Lake County for 11 years and paid far more into retirement and my health care than Governor Walker is asking of the unions. These protesters have got to get real–everyone must do their part to correct this financial mess the State is in. I hope Governor Walkers stay strong and does not give in on this one.

  • Annabelle Humphrey

    I do not believe Governor Walker is out of line to require that the teacher’s union pay into their pension and health care. I worked in a county dept. for 11 years and paid more than he is asking.

    Everyone needs to do their share.

  • Jim Oler

    It is about time we have a Governor with a backbone and people had better get behind him. We need to address these issues now. If we would of had a Governor, these last eight years, with a any kind of a backbone, we wouldn’t be here today. Our State is Broke and putting things off is not the answer. The quicker the issues are taken care of, the less painful it will be down the road. Thank you Mr Walker. Keep up the good work and don’t let your guard down.

  • Go Scott Walker

    You Da Man!

    This is why we elected Scott Walker, because he’s honest, fair and will bring this state back up to where it used to be. He is fixing what has been broken.

    He said he would cut out waste and he is. How would these people all like to lose their jobs? If they don’t start paying for their health care and their retirement (like the rest of us do) some of them could be let go.

    You can’t keep throwing money at them when there’s no money to throw.

    Like Old Mother Hubbard.

    She went to her cupboard to feed her dog a bone.

    But when she got there,

    The cupboard was bare.

    And so her poor dog had none.

  • Steve

    Welcome Pubic Sector to coming a bit closer to how it has been feeling lately down here in the Private Sector, It isn’t going to be as easy, you will have to learn how to budget better for your family and pay more outta pocket to the doctor.

    Thank you for making the playing field a little more level Governor Walker, it certainly isn’t fair that the Private Sector would be expected to take on the whole burden ourselves!

  • Steve

    Sorry for the typo honestly nothing intended but that is supposed to read Public Sector on that first line…

  • Mike

    As a state worker in the DOC, I am willing to make concessions. I get it. What Walker is doing will destroy us. I am a 13 year Sgt. with the state and if one of my 3 kids were still under 5 I would qualify for WIC. This bill could cost us our modest 97 year old home. I’m not asking for fancy things, just to exist in a small town. For the last 3 contracts we have given up wage increases to keep what benefits we have left. If Walker wants to be fair then why does the DOC in Wisconsin make about 8% less than surrounding states? We are not the ones breaking the bank. Walker is trying to union bust to privatize prisons. He doesn’t need to take away the union to make us pay. he doesn’t even TRY to talk, he just dictates. That is what this is about. he is a Governor. Not a King. We should work together. I have a lot of ideas not considered.

  • Joan Gerhan

    Thank you Govenor Walker for doing what you promised before you were elected.

    Remember President Ronald Regan told the FAA union workers to go back to work or be fired. And some went back to work and a lot of the workers did not and they were fired. The State employees need to go back to work and be glad they have a job and getting a great deal on their pensions and health care.

  • Stephen Norling

    Gov. Walker has it right. All of the teachers who called in sick and caused schools to be closed need to be fired. That is what amounts to an illegal strike. When you call in sick and are outside at the capital in the crowd, it is a lie. Not only is it an illegal strike, they are showing the students that it is all right to lie.

  • Kathy

    I think it’s interesting to hear the democrats recognize the importance of representing the people as it regards to protecting labor unions. They didn’t seem concerned with the people when they approved Obamacare and other measures that are just putting us further and further in debt. We don’t need bigger government, we need common sense!

    Thank you, Governer Walker, for doing what’s best for all of us!

  • Jeorme Koosman

    The majority of Wisconsin voters spoke last November and wanted a change for the better. 300,000 state union employees are not the majority but part of the problem for why this state is in debt. The citizens of Wisconsin have been indoctrinated for years, now we have governmental leaders that are educating as leaders should. Doing the “right thing”, is not always a “feel good result”.

  • Melanie VandenBerg

    I think that this is really getting crazy. The people have spoken and we want and need change! We are broke! It is time for everyone to pay their fare share. Unions have done their good in the past and now they are unrealistic and protect some bad employees!

  • Joseph Stakun

    Stick to your(our)principles, Governor Walker. It’s about time these union thugs have to live with the same things we, in private industry, have to do. You are not taking anything away from them, but just asking them to contribute to their own retirement. That’s what the rest of us do. We have to have a level playing field.

  • Dan

    This is why we elected you Scott, to finally make some changes for the citizens of WI. We all have to make some concessions in this situation inboth the private and public sector. As the majority of us in this state have learned over the past few years if you cannot have more control over your personnel costs you cannot survive. This is what this is all about. I don’t think the citizens of WI want to be in a situation like our friends to the south ( by the way where are senators are hiding out) where they raised their state taxes by 60%. Wouldn’t that be a big hit to all of the public union employees also? Get back to work everyone and do your job.

  • Joseph Randolph

    Governor Walker has hit the nail on the head. Cut the fat.

    J. Randolph

  • Kenneth Bohmann

    Governor Walker,

    I couldn’t be more proud of you. I know this is not easy but you are doing what has to be done. For far too long now we have been supporting teachers and other public employees with their extravagant benefits. It is about time they contribute their share. You would think by the way they are demonstrating that you were asking to take away their entire lively hood. I am tired of these union thugs dictating to us. I am appalled by all the teachers who say they are only concerned about the students when they themselves take part in an illegal walkout by leaving the classrooms to go to Madison and protest.

  • Governor Walker I do hope that you and the other republicans don’t back down. This is too important of an issue for Wisconsin and the rest of the country.

  • Terry Aupoiong

    This isn’t about budgets – it’s about union busting and corporate power – wake up.

  • Mandy

    You people just dont get it do you… The State of WI isnt $3 billions in the hole b/c of State and public workers!!! The State is broke b/c our Govt spends money on stupid lavish things that we just dont need. Our City does it our Country does it!! No one lives w/in their means any more and our govt spends money that they dont/didnt have!!!!!!! Why take this out on the backs of hard working State and Public employees?? We are the glue that holds the State together and you attack us first?!?! Im glad that our teachers went on strike, it needed to be done!

    Walker is a dictator not a Governor! He’s going to ruion our city like he did Milwaukee- thanks republicans!!

  • Butch Sowinski

    Thank you Gov. Walker, don’t give in, stick to your principles, this should have been done a long time ago, but as usual the Democrats (in power for the last eight years) ignored the issues and now somebody else has to man up and make the tough choices. We are behind you 100%

  • Joseph Randolph

    This is why we elected Walker our governor. Governor stand your ground and do not be intimidated.

    Respectfully, Joseph Randolph, author of Debilitating Democracy, sold on Amazon.com

  • Mary

    I support the Budget Repair Bill 100%! Please Gov. Walker and elected Republican reps and senators….DONT” BACK DOWN!

    I view the democrat senators slithering out of Madison as spineless and should be replaced because they did not do the job for which they were elected.

    Shame on the democrat senators and all union members for setting such a horrible example for the confused youth of this country that DON’T PAY property taxes and DON’T understand the debt crisis in this state and the whole country. Perhaps teachers should “teach” the topic to their students!

  • Obama is the unions. These proteses are his. Thank You, Scott Walker, for doing your job. The whole Country is behind You.

  • These Unions are the Socialists and Communists of our country. We know who our enemy is. The sweethart deals are OVER.

  • kim

    Greed and selfishness come to the fore front in the protestor’s cries. I admire Gov.Walker’s determination to make things better for all of Wisconsin and pray that he stays strong and succeeds. He is making Wisconsin proud.

  • Jean

    Thank you Govenor Walker for taking a stand and not backing down. This is NOT unreasonalble.

    We didn’t have to pay into our health care coverage either, until the last 2 years. Yes it was great to not have to pay, but the company was in trouble. It was actually my request to start having employees pay a PART of the coverage. The company is still going, and it just took a little adjustment on my part.

    Maybe the employees should figure out how much this is going to take away from them personally and they will see that it isn’t that bad. And if it is…QUIT! You have a choice, leave and get another job, someone else is waiting to take your place! Get real! Govenor Walker – PLEASE don’t back down! I wish he could fire those democrats that left the state.

  • The Democrats that left the state should be docked pay, put on notice that they failed to show for work, and if their action continues, be fired. That’s how the real world works. Get real people!

  • Glenn Schiefelbein

    Scott Walker is a breath of fresh air. We need fiscal responsibility and are finally getting it. I wish the US Senate would sit up and take notice of how to do their job. Maybe next year that will change!!

  • Joseph Randolph

    Dear Governor Walker:

    Respectively accept my congratulations on a fine job over the past week for our state of Wisconsin. I must admit I have despaired of politicians such as you still existing, but apparently you have the courage and tenacity to stand for what this state and our country most need in a time of dire financial times. I was privileged to be at a Republican dinner in my area last weekend, and one of the local speakers predicted something like the kind of opposition you have seen to your proposal in Madison. But in that some context, he also said “fear not.” These words would be my words to you Sir.

    You of course will have to put on an extra coat or two or three or more of thick skins to your critics, for they will make every attempt to destroy you because you have dared to work toward some financial resolutions that they are too cowardly to even consider. “Realism” we call it Sir, and you are to be commended for taking the responsibility of addressing a financial crisis that demands we take account of reality.

    Our state is filled with citizens who voted for you to do precisely this kind of thing, and I am sure that it fills them with pride that their governor is an object of national attention for doing it. Of course your critics think in some childish way that they are the courageous ones in opposing you; but, as you know, they were and are prepared to do nothing about the state of our finances until it is beyond any kind of repair. You Sir are trying to stop the bleeding; they are ready to act only when the body has become a corpse.

    As you know our state is known and often touted for its progressivism, but you Sir have seen that the way of this route of very recent years is to ruin, financial and otherwise. If it is any consolation to you, your supporters have had some rancid situations to bear themselves, as this situation in Madison is a topic for conversation of many kinds—with of course your detractors being out in front with all sorts of uncivil things to say about a governor trying to bring some restraint in spending to a state given to spending money like a drunken sailor.

    Of course if you make it through this ordeal there will be others, but not unlike this one. I know many Wisconsin citizens on the verge of retirement looking for another state to retire in because of the exorbitant taxes of this state. I love my state, but if I cannot afford to live in it as a retiree, then I cannot afford to live in it as a retiree. This thinking of course is lost on those who think wishful thinking is sufficient to nullify realities, but thankfully, you, nor most of the citizens of Wisconsin, think like that.

    Keep up the good fight opposing those who do. And fear not. And thank you.

    Joseph Randolph is an academic and writer living in Wisconsin. His 2010 book Debilitating Democracy: Power From The People, is available from Wasteland Press and Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble. His email address is [email protected].

  • Floyd

    Go Scott Go

    We voted for a change in our government and we believe you are on the right track. Keep up the good work!!!!

  • Bernard Rodefer

    Right on Gov. Walker, We voted for you and are proud we did. Your principles are above reproach and my wife told me to write that ” You Rock” a very high praise from her. I am retired and was thinking of moving out of the state because of the high property tax’s and cost of living. Now there is a ray of hope because of your policy’s. The democrat lawmakers and the unions are just thugs and with President Obama’s egging them on to cause strife is in my mind an impeachable offence. All teachers and public sector workers who called in sick should be fired and those teachers who incited there studets to join in this protest should be cited for contributing to the delinquency of minors! Please Mr. Gov and senate and assembly members please stand by your principles and do not back down. We the majority of Wisconsinites are standing behind you. Fire those public workers who are illigaly leaving their jobs to protest and who show there true colors by their retoric. Notice the differance between the TEA party Rallies and this leftest demonstration. We were protesting the Government spending and tax’s so you can see it was our livelihood too, so they can not say we weren’t effected by what we were protesting. After the TEA party protest there was no mess and debrie left, what about this one? There were no arrests from the TEA ralley, but there were on this one and I will predict that there will be many more than the one yesterday. And please Mr. Obama take your busloads of union thugs and protestor’s back home and let us settle our states problems with out your under-table dealings as well as those leftist democrats who support your socialistic and communistic ways/agenda.

  • RiverRat

    Wake up people…………………………..time for Unions is OVER!!! The future of America has to come before the selfish demands of these union people!!! They are trying to hold America and her tax-paying citizens hostage………………………………don’t let them!!! YOU GO GOV!!!

  • Wilma

    You are WELCOME Mandy…read the facts.do not watch NBC, ABC nor CBS..you will learn more if you watch Fox News, they are Fair and balanced God bless you Gov. Walker..talking about dictator, the man in the White House is the dictator, and people have enough of him telling us of what to do.

  • Kathleen

    Mike, if your Union is so good why don’t they listen to your good idea’s. It is hard to believe that you would lose your home because of what Gov. Walker is trying to do. My understanding is that it would make the Government responsible and not the Unions for the establishing the State Budgets. Have you noticed how the jobs under Union control are the ones that are running in the red? It is because you are not held to the same rules as the private sector. Maybe your home is too big for you and you need to look for a smaller one. We all need to learn to live within our needs, hard though that may be. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for you and the job you are doing as I’m sure you are needed.

  • Mike M

    Governer Walker I salute you. No one in goverment has had the courage to face the reality that at some point this yearly increase in spending must stop. With continued increase in taxes, at what point do people say enough is enough. Property tax,state tax,sales tax,county tax, gross reciept tax,estate tax,Fedral tax, Social secutity,Medicare, Medicaid. Today a person cannot really own there property. If you fail to pay your property taxes it is taken from you and sold. Start to add up all the tax a person has to payon a yearly basis and at what point does a person say I have had enough? 40%,50%,60%? Taxes continue to rise and at some point it will be futile to work. Stay home and let the system provide. This goverment attitude of tax and spend has to stop before the system collapses. Instead of the last 100 years of increase tax and spend, let’s go the other way and decrease spending and taxes. What an idea! Let individuals and buisness keep more of there money. What a way of stimulating the economy. Gov. Walker you have a very tough job to do and I am behind you. Let’s make this State a model for the rest of the country and save America. If we can get the State and then the country to be fiscally responsible, we will truly be the greatest nation on the planet. Stay strong!

  • Richard

    Gover Walker

    You are truly a man of principal. courage and conviction.

    stand firm, hold your ground. You are on the right side of this issue and have both my support and that of others. 100%

  • germanlady

    Hang in there Govenor. A lot of these teachers need to think for themselves to understand how serious it is in this country right now. The heads of the unions are nothing but socialists and do not have Americas best interest at heart.

  • shelly

    I think the unions are more worried about getting their dues. Obama is worried, he needs that money to get re-elected. A teacher at my workplace described the teachers union to the “Mafia”. The majority of people at my place of employment have no sympathy for the teachers who can’t seem to make sacrifices that all of us are already making. Teachers, you are slaves of the union and you don’t even know it. How sad.

  • Mike

    Most of you Walker supporters have it wrong. I voted for Walker! He didn’t tell you he got a $7,000 a year raise when he took office. He didn’t tell you we haven’t got a raise in 4 years. He didn’t tell you we gave up wage increases in the last 2 contracts so we could keep our benefits. He didn’t tell you that private correction firms in all surrounding states make on average 8% more an hour. He wants to be “fair” on benefits. Fine. Let’s be “fair” on pay. Right now, as a 13 year Sgt., I qualify for assistance programs. Walker’s plan will take over $300 a month income from me to pay bills or buy food. WE ARE NOT RICH! WE ARE NOT BREAKING THE BANK! This is not about making sacrifices, we get that. We are protesting because he REFUSES to talk to us. He REFUSES to give up his raise. He makes $144,000 a year. He won’t listen to other options. Our prison is going to spend $180,000 so we can teach inmates how to cut hair. I thought we didn’t have the money. The union is willing to give stuff up but we are protesting the way he is forcing this down our throats and putting the blame on us. Why do we get a pay cut while the lawmakers get raises? Walker is unethical and misleading. He wants to take our rights to bring in his big business cronies.

  • Mike

    We HAVE been paying into our health care more and more every contract with no wage increases in four years! Ask Walkerdinajad what he plans on spending his extra $7,000 a year on. Why does he get a pay raise? He says, “I am willing to make the same concessions as the unions.” Really? Is he willing to give back his raise? Yeah, didn’t think so. The least he can do is sit at the table and explain what the situation is and get us to work together. Instead he forces this union busting bill down our throats and won’t listen to any other ideas on cutting the budget. This is what happens when act like a dictator and treat people this way.

    Let me be clear, I am a conservative republican. I voted for Walker. I hate unions. However, what Walker is doing is wrong. Not the way to do it. We ARE willing to pay more and sacrifice but we will NOT take the brunt of the deficit while lawmakers get raises. I NEVER thought I would side with liberals on this. Sad day in my political world. We can pay additional contributions without destroying the lower middle class. WALKER: WORK WITH US! NOT AGAINST US!

  • Why is it that the Pres is setting up a council to check out the billions of profit from oil and then gas is

    10 cents less at the pump for one week and now it is climbing again, can’t you help us and make this stop. We don’t have jobs we can’t afford gas and food and Rx on a set income. When are you and the

    other politicans going to do something about this, we hear about what we are sending to other countries and why can’t we keep it here and pay less at the pump? When will everyone stop lying to us.

    This is always a reason that we don’t understand and it never gets solved. We put you guys in and you are not helping us. Stop taking stuff from us and HELP, HELP,HELP.

  • NorMag

    You have accomplished great things for all people of the Great State of Wisconsin. Your Courageous Leadership continues to legislate good law that will sustain future generations. THANK YOU. YOU ARE BRAVE.


    Fredonia, WI