Walker drops hammer on state workers - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Walker drops hammer on state workers

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By Capitol Bureau Chief Bob Schaper - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- Gov. Scott Walker says "we have good and decent people who work in state and local government," but starting April 1, he wants them to work for less.

"We have to reform the wage and benefit process here in the state of Wisconsin," he said.

Walker proposed that those in the state pension system pay half its cost, or about 6 percent of a worker's salary. And for health benefits, employee's will shell out about 13 percent of the cost of the premiums.

"This is not a modest proposal, this is a radical proposal," Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 40, said. "This is something that upends years and decades of labor relations. And what's really sad about this is the governor never chose to sit with the affected parties."

Badger railed against Walker's plan to make fringe benefits non-negotiable for state unions, along with a provision that would cap pay increases to the rate of inflation.

"How does this help the 250,000 jobs the governor hopes to create by making the jobs that already exist worse?" Badger said.

"This is not a great day if you're a public employee of this state," Joe Wineke, former chief labor negotiator for former Gov. Jim Doyle, said.

Wineke said Walker was trying to bust the unions.

"How long is it going to be before we have a few rich guys and the rest of everybody else is poor?" Wineke said.

The governor says he expects all state workers to show up for work next week, but if they don't, he says he's ready for any and all contingencies. That includes notifying the National Guard to be ready to handle critical functions, such as guarding prisoners.

"We now have the makings of a dictatorship here in Wisconsin," Rep. Gary Hebl, a Sun Prairie Democrat said.

Democrats responded angrily to Walker's plan, describing it as a step backwards in labor relations.

"Is it a complete misunderstanding of the process by boss Walker's office, or is this an intentional misleading of the public?" Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) said.

But Walker says he's discussed his proposals many times in public, and says if his plan is rejected by the Legislature thousands of state workers will face layoffs.

"This is a much better alternative," Walker said. "And when people have a chance to digest what the true consequences are here I have no doubt that both the Assembly and the Senate will pass this, pass this quickly, in preparation of our next state budget."

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Gov. Walker released the following statement about the budget repair bill he introduced today at the State Capitol, "The budget repair bill will balance the budget and lay the foundation for a long-term sustainable budget through several measures without raising taxes, raiding segregated funds, or using accounting gimmicks."

Gov. Walker says the bill will require state employees to pay about 5.8% toward their pension (about the private sector national average) and about 12% of their healthcare benefits (about half the private sector national average).  These changes will help the state save $30 million in the last three months of the current fiscal year.

Stay with WKOW.com for the latest on this developing story. 27 News' Tony Galli and Capitol Bureau Chief Bob Schaper will also have team coverage from the Capitol tonight on 27 News at 5, 6 & 6:30.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.

Walker said Friday that he hasn't called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems.

Walker says he has every confidence that state employees will continue to show up for work and do their jobs. But he says he's been working on contingency plans for months just in case they don't.

Walker says he's not anticipating any problems.

His plan would require higher pension and health insurance contributions and remove bargaining rights except in a limited way over wages.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker is praising state workers in an e-mail that describes how he wants to take away collective bargaining rights and force them to pay more for pension and health care benefits.

The e-mail he sent Friday thanks them for their service and then makes the case for the cuts. Walker is proposing doing away with the ability to bargain over anything except wages for all state and local public employees, including teachers. Local police and fire fighters and the state patrol would be exempt.

Walker asks state workers to work with him to rethink how government works.

Wisconsin faces a two-year $3.6 billion budget shortfall. Walker is calling on the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve the changes next week.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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MADISON (WKOW) -- In an exclusive interview to the Associated Press, Gov. Scott Walker said he will propose removing nearly all public employee collective bargaining rights to help plug a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

On Thursday, Walker said no one should be surprised by him asking the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve the proposal next week, given that he'd talked about doing it for two months.

Walker says the cuts are necessary to avoid up to 1,500 state employee layoffs. He says he will call a special Legislative session Friday and ask them to pass his plan next week.

The state faces a $137 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year that ends June 30.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican briefed on Gov. Scott Walker's budget tells The Associated Press that Walker will propose removing nearly all public employee collective bargaining rights to help plug a $3.6 billion hole.

The person was in Walker's closed-door briefing with state Senate members Thursday but spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to release the information.

The person says Walker will propose changing state law to remove the ability for public employees to negotiate on any issue except salary.

The person says Walker also will refinance state debt to save $165 million in the current fiscal year which ends June 30.

Walker has been very public in his desire to seek deep concessions from state workers.

Walker plans to release his budget plan to the public Friday morning.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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MADISON (WKOW/AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker plans to explain how he'll solve the state's $136 million budget shortfall for this year.

He's expected to hold a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers Thursday afternoon.

Walker has said he wants to force concessions from state workers and is open to refinancing the state debt. He's said that benefit cuts under SeniorCare is off the table, but he hasn't said whether he would look for other ways to save money from the popular prescription drug program.

State workers fear that Walker will attempt to change state law to remove their collective bargaining rights. Walker has said he wants to force union members to pay more for health care and pensions and he has not attempted to restart negotiations.

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