"Wisconsin teachers abandon students in the name of devotion to students; Wisconsin Democrats abandon vote in the name of devotion to democracy."
Still, some lawmakers here appeared rattled by the crowds cramming the building.
Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican leader in the State Senate, slipped out of the Capitol Wednesday morning with his sunglasses on, head down. Protesters had gone to his home earlier in the week, forcing his family (including his wife, a school guidance counselor) to go elsewhere for a bit.
Walker, a former county executive and state assembly member, has an ambitious list of reforms he would like to see enacted. To start with, he announced last Friday that he wants to eliminate most collective-bargaining rights for the majority of public employees, exempting only police, firefighters, and state troopers.
He also wants public employees to begin contributing 5.8 percent to their pension plans. (Currently, most of them contribute nothing to their plans.) On health care, he would like them to increase their contributions to 12.6 percent, up from 4 to 6 percent. Taken together, the two measures would result in what amounts to 8 percent pay cuts for state workers. The changes would also save the state — which is facing a budget shortfall of $137 million this fiscal year — $30 million over the next few months. More important, they would save $300 million over the following two fiscal years, when Wisconsin is facing a $3.6 billion deficit.
UPDATE - An emailer (contact me at email@example.com) reminds me that this isn't the first time Democrats have high-tailed it out of a state legislature to avoid doing what they're paid to do.
"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” ~FDR
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