MADISON, Wis., Feb 19 (Reuters) – Supporters of legislation to reduce public employee union bargaining power and benefits in Wisconsin were far outnumbered by opponents on Saturday, as the two sides shouted competing slogans but did not clash.
Tens of thousands have demonstrated throughout the week against Republican Governor Scott Walker’s proposed legislation, which supporters say is needed to bring spending under control and opponents contend would break the back of state worker unions.
Wisconsin is the flashpoint for a U.S. struggle over efforts to roll back pay, benefits and bargaining rights of government workers. If the majority Republicans prevail, other states could be emboldened to take on the powerful unions.
Megan McCardle at The Atlantic weighs in with a balanced, if not entirely fair piece (fairness, I suppose, depends on where you are in the debate).
For those of you who haven’t been following this, the Republican-led government is set to put in place a new budget that puts the brunt of a “tax increase” on public sector employees to balance the Wisconsin state budget. Currently, Republicans control the governorship as well as both chambers — the House 57-38 and the Senate 19-14. Because 20 Senators are necessary for that chamber to vote, the 14 Democrats have effectively “filibustered” by fleeing the state, prolonging the inevitable I suppose.
In the meantime, the delay has allowed for the mass demonstrations down in Madison this week and this weekend.
UPDATE: Schumpeter Roundtable member, Cecily, has reported back from the rallies, and informs us that UW business students have never heard of Schumpeter. Huh?!?
Ms. Cecily has rallied the troops and is taking two buses to Mad town. She is planning to convene at the Chapel Tuesday at 8 a.m. If you are interested in heading to Madison, you should check in there tomorrow.