Local officials from around Wisconsin held a press conference [AUDIO: 24 min] at the Capitol on Wednesday to voice their oppostion to provisions within Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill which would restrict the right of public employee unions to collectively bargain. Eau Claire City Manager Mike Huggins said there are local officials who support public employee unions and collective bargaining – and asked the national media to get the story straight. “Joe Scarborough was saying he didn’t know of any elected officials anywhere in the country that supported collective barganing rights,” said Huggins. “I’m sorry, we’re here.”
La Crosse County Board Supervisor Tera Johnson suggested Governor Scott Walker and Republicans give them a call to learn how to govern effectively. “We have a long track record in balancing budgets, providing outstanding services to people in need, and by the way, amazingly, we’re able to do that through collective barganing and negotiating with our employees who deliver those services,” said Johnson.
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said Wednesday that local officials don’t want the collective bargaining provisions of Walker’s budget repair bill. “Allow us to make decisions locally about how we’re going to deal with this issue,” Cieslewicz said. “Destroying collective bargaining will not help us balance a single budget.” Madison Common Council President Mark Clear said local governments want to retain local control. “None of us in local government, despite what the governor may tell, asked for this kind of what he calls flexibility,” said Clear. “In fact in it removes flexibility.”
Oshkosh Deputy Mayor Jessica King said her city has serious concerns about the budget repair bill. “What we found out in only a few days is that it has the potential to eliminate one half of our bus routes in the city of Oshkosh, which a million passengers ride each year,” King said.
Madison Metropoltian Schools Board President Maya Cole had a message to Governor Scott Walker, who has said his budget repair bill provides local governments with the tools they need to deal with the cuts that are coming in his state budget. “What I want to say to Governor Walker is ‘I don’t need your help, I don’t need your tool, I don’t want to be your tool, and that’s what I feel like you’re doing.”
Eau Claire’s Huggins said some 300 local officials from had signed a letter to Walker, asking him to remove the collective bargaining provisions from his budget repair bill.