February 7, 2016

UW teachers, students protest Walker’s budget fix

Piles of valentines dumped onto the security desk outside Governor Walker's office. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

The University of Wisconsin community tells the governor, “Don’t Break My Heart.”

In response to his budget repair bill, about 1,000 University of Wisconsin students, faculty and staff fill the state Capitol building shouting, “Spread the love, stop the hate; don’t let Walker legislate.” The crowd delivers thousands of Valentine’s to Governor Scott Walker asking him “not to break their hearts” with budget cuts.

Walker wants to get rid of most public employee collective bargaining rights in order to help fix the budget hole. Graduate assistant Peter Rickman, a 28-year-old from Neenah, says he’s concerned about the future of the entire state. “This is an attack on the entire UW community.”

The legislation introduced Friday would require most government workers to contribute to their pensions and health care premiums. Walker is not proposing any furlough days. The governor says the state is broke; it has nothing to offer in a negotiation. Rickman doesn’t buy that. “This bill is not about the budget. This bill is about gutting collective bargaining rights.”

Walker says the proposal will help fix the current $137 million deficit, and the next two-year budget with a projected $3.6 billion shortfall. Without the changes, Walker says several thousand government workers could be laid off. Protesters left the capitol building chanting, “Kill the bill.”

The Department of Administration’s official crowd estimate is 1,000.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:30

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