Governor Scott Walker toured Wisconsin Tuesday to discuss his biennial budget and plans to create 250,000 jobs. At the Empire Bucket Manufacturing plant in Hudson, Walker tried to convince more than 40 employees that his budget cuts and restrictions on public sector employee unions would stabilize the state and attract more employment to Wisconsin.
Walker told reporters the only governments that will suffer from his changes will be those that still have signed contracts with their labor unions.
“I think unfortunately what the taxpayers are going to find in those areas – by not taking advantage of those reforms – those communities ultimately may be faced with layoffs,” said Walker, adding the budget repair bill allows communities the tools and flexibility to avoid job cuts.
But River Falls City Council member Bob Hughes said Walker’s budget cuts outweigh any potential benefits. Hughes says the community is facing as much as $330,000 in cuts and at most potential savings of $100,000 with increased retirement and insurance contributions from employees. The city council member believes the eliminations of collective bargaining will hurt delivery of services in the long run.
The Governor insisted the changes are supported even by union members and he said those fearing the out-of-pocket costs should just quit paying union dues.
“That school teacher now will no longer have to pay a thousand dollars taken out of their paycheck that’s money that they can use to pay for health care and things other things like that.”
More than 350 rain soaked protestors chanted “we’re still here” while waiting for Walker to emerge from the plant.
As for those non-union employees whose support Walker sought, they responded to the end of his fifteen minute speech with silence.