Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday signed a controversial bill sharply limiting collective bargaining rights for public workers, but it will take months, maybe years, to sort out the winners and losers.
Walker, a Republican who sought changes limiting the clout of unions, also rescinded the layoffs of 1,500 mid-level state employees who were threatened with job losses because of a budget crunch and a stalemate on the bargaining bill, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Walker said the reforms, which also demand larger pension and health care contributions from workers, will save $30 million and put the state on a path to fiscal health.
Republicans won the long legislative battle Thursday when the Assembly gave final passage to Walker's "budget repair" bill in a largely party-line vote. That decisive roll call came after the state Senate passed the same bill without a single Democrat present in the legislative chamber. Democratic senators boycotted the session; most of them have been in neighboring Illinois for weeks and it's not clear when they'll return to Madison.
Democrats, energized by a three-week battle that brought tens of thousands of protesters to the capitol in Madison, have launched recall efforts against GOP state senators who supported Walker's bill. Republican majority leaders pushed the measure through the Senate after stripping it of spending sections so they wouldn't need the required 20-member quorum for money bills that Democrats had denied them by their absence.
A court challenge to the legislative process is all but certain. But judgment will also be rendered by voters on Election Day in 2012.
On Friday, the Democratic Governors Association jumped into the fray with a video claiming other Republican governors had distanced themselves from Walker's campaign against collective bargaining -- even though GOP Gov. John Kasich is promoting similar legislation in Ohio.
To the Democratic group, Walker's "brazen power grab" was an opportunity to put GOP governors on the spot with regard to worker rights. Watch the video, courtesy of the DGA.
In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.