WISCONSIN — Wisconsin faces a $3.6 billion debt over the next two years, and a bill proposed by Governor Scott Walker would call for public employees to pay more for their pensions and health insurance as a means of tackling the deficit.
The proposed bill has become the national issue of the moment, as an estimated 25,000 protesters continue to gather at the State Capitol. The Madison Metropolitan School district canceled classes on Wednesday after 40 percent of its employees stayed home in protest of the bill, which is seen by many as part of a larger scheme to outlaw unions.
The Huffington Post reports:
As dissenters streamed into the halls of the capitol building Thursday, Democratic state senators fled the state in a move to block a vote on the measure. They ended up at a hotel in Northern Illinois, where they remain, at least for the time being. The state’s Assembly has planned a vote for Friday.
While many, including President Obama, have characterized the bill as an “assault on unions,” Gov. Walker maintained Friday that his legislation, which would strip state employees of their collective bargaining rights and force them to pay a larger share of the cost of health care and pensions, was a “modest proposal.”
Democrats have left the Capitol since Thursday, preventing a Senate vote from happening at all, and it seems unlikely they’ll be returning any time soon. The protesters say they have no plans to leave the Capitol until there is an end to the proposal.