Protests against Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill have spread. That’s what it sounded like outside Neillsville’s American Legion Hall Saturday night as Republicans met inside for their annual Lincoln Day Dinner. A couple hundred people were outside protesting Governor Scott Walker’s budget-fix proposal. Jim Mills, a staff rep for AFSCME, said Neillsville looked like a small-scale Madison. “Hopefull the legislature will listen and they will get rid of that awful budget repair bill,” said Mills. Among those lining the street in front of the Legion was Steve Dykstra who works for at the Jackson County Correctional Institute. He’s worked for the state for 26 years, and said unions have made plenty of concessions over the years. They’ve accepted little or no salary hikes in return for good benefits. He was holding a sign that read ‘Support the Middle Class Workers’, reflecting his concerns. “Pretty soon it’s going to look just like Egypt,” said Dykstra. “Extremely rich and extremely poor. That’s the definition of Walker’s plan for Wisconsin.”
Union leaders have said they would make the concessions on their benefits that Governor Scott Walker wants to balance the budget, but Republican Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbottsford), inside at the Lincoln Day event, said the offer is a non starter. “That really is the height of hypocrisy for (AFSCME union chief) Marty Beil to say ‘now we’re willing to negotiate’ when he couldn’t even get negotiations done with a Democratic governor and a Democratic legislature,” Suder said. “I do think there’s a lot of misinformation coming out from the top echelons of certain unions and certain organizations.” State Senator Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) said the rallies in opposition to the budget repair bill have galvanized Senate Republicans. “What has passed in the last couple of days has increased our resolve to get this things passed,” said Moulton, adding that Republicans “have some options” even if Democrats continue to stay away.