Governor Scott Walker unveils a budget repair bill that would strip most state workers of their collective bargaining rights. The measure is designed to close a $137 million gap in the current state budget.
The legislation introduced today would require most government workers to contribute 5.8 percent of their salary to pension costs, pay about 12.6 percent of health care premiums, and limit collective bargaining rights to wages. Although, any raises higher than the consumer price index would need voter approval.
Without the changes, Walker says several thousand state and local government workers could be laid off. He says the state will not negotiate with the unions because Wisconsin is broke and has “nothing to offer” them at the bargaining table.
The bill also gives state employees the option of not joining a union, which he says could offset the costs of higher pension and health contributions.
Fire and police employees would be exempt from the changes. Walker denies that it’s political payback for some of those unions supporting him during the campaign, calling the claim “utterly ridiculous” because some of the unions also endorsed his opponent. He says the move is designed to prevent any gap in services the state can’t cover, in the event unions take action because of the proposal.
The Governor added that the National Guard is ready to respond in the event of unrest or action from state union workers.
The bill also restructures payments on the state’s general obligation bonds, allows DHS to make changes in Medicaid programs, and authorizes the sale of state heating plants.
Walker says he’s confident the measure will have the support needed in the Legislature for approval.