In a press conference tonight, Gov. Scott Walker called the union concessions he was seeking a “modest request,” although he conceded that asking for them was “a bold political move.”
And he would like the Democratic state senators — who are currently holed up in a hotel in Illinois so that a vote on the relevant legislation cannot be held — to come back to Wisconsin
“I’m calling on the members of the state senate to show up and do the job that they’re paid to do as well,” said Walker. “They don’t have to agree with everything we propose, but they should on behalf of the people who pay their salaries show up to work.”
He also acknowledged the thousands of protesters who have been flooding the state capitol this week.
“Certainly, the thousands of people here and outside the capitol have every right to be heard,” said Walker. But I want to make sure that not for one moment are their voices drowning out the voices of millions of taxpayers all across the state of Wisconsin.”
But he defended requiring government employees to contribute nearly 6 percent to their pension funds and nearly 13 percent to their health-care plans, saying that the pension contribution was equal to the national average, while the health-care contribution would be only half of the national average.
Walker said the only alternative would be layoffs of 10,000 to 12,000 state and local employees.
He also said he would not back down on the legislation banning most collective bargaining rights, stressing the importance of allowing state and local leaders to have flexibility in negotiation with government workers.