Governor Outlines Plan To Close Wis. Budget Gap
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Joining me now is NPR's David Schaper, who watched the address in the chamber in Madison. And, David, after all of the protests and acrimony over the past few weeks, were there any big surprises in what Governor Walker had to say today?
DAVID SCHAPER: More than $4 billion will be cut from the allocation of the last couple of years. And schools and local governments are taking it pretty hard in this budget. But this is a governor who campaigned on no tax increases and said again today that this is - the state government must live within its means. It can no longer put some things off. And basically, essentially, just said what he's been saying for the last several weeks. The state is broke and it's time to start training our bills today.
G: Gone are the segregated fund raids, illegal transfers and accounting gimmicks. Gone are the tax or fee increases. Our state cannot grow if our people are weighed down paying for a larger and larger government, a government that pays its workers unsustainable benefits that are out of line with the private sector. We need a leaner and cleaner state government.
BLOCK: Now, David, as the state Democrats are saying, we are going to stay away and prevent a vote on this so-called budget repair bill, what can they take away from this speech from the governor?
SCHAPER: And he basically said the, you know, budget cuts are coming and local governments are going to need the tools in order to - the tools that he's laying out in the budget repair bill taking away collective bargaining rights for many public employees and it's basically time to come home.
G: If the 14 Senate Democrats do not come home, their local communities will be forced to manage these reductions in aid without the benefit of the tools provided in the repair bill. On the other hand, if the Senate Democrats do come home, local units of government overall will actually see a net increase in revenue plus savings of more than $150 million.
SCHAPER: Democrats disagree, still, that those are the right tools and remain committed to staying away as long as they can to try to force the governor into a compromise.
BLOCK: Okay. NPR's David Schaper reporting from Madison. David, thanks very much.
SCHAPER: Thank you, Melissa.
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