Gov. Walker defends state's budget reforms in D.C. - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Gov. Walker defends state's budget reforms in D.C.


WASHINGTON D.C. (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker said at a congressional hearing Thursday, what Wisconsin is doing is progressive.

He was invited to the nations Capitol to talk about his effort to balance the states $137 million budget deficit.

Governor Walker was one of two governor's invited to testify in Washington D.C. The other was Governor Peter Shumlin (D-Vermont). Two governor's with the same problem, but a different solution.

Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) says, "While our idea may be a bold political move it is a very modest request of our employees."

Governor Scott Walker's decision to strip workers of their right to collectively bargain took him all the way to the nations Capitol.

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) asked Gov. Walker, "What is motivating this extreme effort to dismantle the unions themselves?"

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) said, "Some Republican governors have referred to your action as extreme, dismantle of workers rights." She asked, "Do you feel you were extreme? Walker's answer was no."

At times, the discussion was heated. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) argued parts of his collective bargaining proposal are political issues, not budget issues.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) "The title of this hearing is choice or necessity, I think we've been able to show you that taking away collective bargaining rights is a choice not a budget issue."

Congressman Cummings asked, "Did you ever consider dropping your collective bargaining demands?"

Gov. Walker replied, "If I have to choose between massive layoffs or making these types of reforms, I'd much rather stand on the side of protecting those middle class jobs, and protecting middle class taxpayers."

Governor Peter Shumlin (D-Vermont) testified he was able to close his state's $176 million deficit without taking away collective bargaining.

Mr. Cummings says, "Vermont negotiated with state workers. Vermont teachers agreed to work 3 additional years and contribute more to pensions."

Gov. Peter Shumlin (R-Vermont) says, "It is my belief that collective bargaining is a right and something that has served this country with extraordinary progress."

Throughout the testimony, Governor Walker defended his decisions and reform.

Gov. Walker says, "In the past Democrats and Republicans worked together and pushed the problem off for the future and at some point we have to stand up and do something about it and that's what we're doing here."

Governor Walker admitted Thursday he did not at any point in his campaign talk specifically about his plans to end collective bargaining rights.

Many of the Democratic members said at the hearing this recession is by no means the unions fault. They say the reckless action of wall street is what lead to the economic crisis in the first place.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker is in Washington D.C. today, talking with Congress about the budget reforms being implemented in Wisconsin.

He's testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government reform during the committee's hearing on "State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead."

For the next biennial budget starting July 1, Wisconsin faces a $3.6 billion budget deficit. Gov. Walker says his bill, ending most collective bargaining rights for a majority of state employees, will put Wisconsin's finances back on track in the long haul. 

"Some here and other places around the country may say that's a bold political move but I would argue that's a very modern request," Gov. Walker said in his testimony Thursday morning."

27 News will have more testimony, and Democratic response, on-air, online and on the go.

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