Wis. Gov. Walker Introduces 'Reform Budget'
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Crowd: (Chanting) Recall. Recall. Recall...
DAVID SCHAPER: Unidentified Woman: Mr. President and members, the governor of the great state of Wisconsin, the honorable Scott Walker.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
SCHAPER: With majority Republicans cheering loudly and Democrats grimly seated, Walker outlined a budget plan that delivers deep spending cuts to close a projected $3.6 billion deficit over the next two years.
SCOTT WALKER: The facts are clear: Wisconsin is broke and it's time to start paying our bills today - so our kids are not stuck with even bigger bills tomorrow.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)
SCHAPER: Walker says it's time to end the state's reliance on budget gimmicks, federal stimulus funds and tax hikes.
WALKER: This is a reform budget. It's about getting Wisconsin working again. And to make that happen, we need a balanced budget that works.
SCHAPER: This budget blueprint essentially reshapes state government at nearly every level. And it chops $1.5 billion from schools and local governments. On top of that, Walker calls for reducing what school districts, cities, towns and counties can raise from property taxes to offset any state cuts - a double whammy to their budgets.
WALKER: Where we must make reductions, we do so wisely, by giving local government the tools to save even more money than the overall reductions in state aid.
SCHAPER: Those tools remain the main source of controversy here - the elimination of nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public employees. Miles Turner heads the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators. He says Walker's proposed changes to collective bargaining would not save nearly enough money to make up for the budget cuts, and could usher in educational chaos.
MILES TURNER: Extreme impact on local classrooms, class sizes, class offerings, employee benefits. We see this as a very, very frightening time for Wisconsin public education.
SCHAPER: David Schaper, NPR News, Madison.
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