Workers' Uprising: Walker Unveils Disastrous New Budget, Threatens Democrats With Teacher Layoffs; Protesters Ejected from Speech
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The protests in Wisconsin continue into their third week, with thousands holding strong in the capitol in Madison, a huge showing of support for the economic rights of union members and the restoration of a strong middle class. The following is a collection of updates and items on what's happening in Wisconsin and the rest of the country.
Under the plan, Walker would reduce spending by $4.2 billion over two years. State employees would contribute more to health care and pensions. Counties and municipalities would lose $96 million to pay for local services. Walker wants to cut $834 million in state money to local schools.
In his address, Walker shamelessly threatened the 14 Democratic Senators who left the state to block passage of the Governor's union-busting legislation. Walker said that if the Democrats did not return, their communities would be hit harder by the cuts proposed in his budget. He also said that schools could face massive teacher layoffs unless Democrats came back to Wisconsin, somehow managing to blame them for the disastrous consequences of his policies.
Last night on the Ed Show three of the 14 State Senators, from their undisclosed location, took the chance to strike back against Walker on his budget proposal --specifically the huge cuts to education funding he's proposing--and the tactic he's chosen to use: blaming them.
"I think it's ridiculous and the governor knows it is," Democrat Senator Lena Taylor said. "The Governor knows the amount of money he's going to take out of our education system is going to devastate each of the districts. The fact that we're gone is not the reason why."
Watch the video:
Update: Ruth Conniff reports that a group of peaceful protesters that had been invited to Walker's address were forcibly removed partway through his speech:
Le says she and the people sitting near her were peaceful and compliant. But after sitting through most of the governor's address, they were forcibly ejected at 4:40. A state patrolman twisted Le's arms behind her back, she says. and refused to answer her repeated questions about why she was being escorted out.
Keeping her arms pinned, Le says, the guard forced her from the Assembly Gallery. "I said 'I am not resisting you,'" she recalls.
Update: Erica Pelzek reports for the Center for Media and Democracy from the Wisconsin Capitol:
Not a single person was allowed into the Capitol at the King Street entrance between 4:15 and 5:30 p.m., during the bulk of Gov. Scott Walker's budget address. All other entrances were closed and guarded by police.
Currently, a line of police officers guards the King Street entrance of the Capitol, only allowing people to exit the building. The police officers from varying Wisconsin counties, as per orders from their superior, said they are no longer letting people inside the Capitol in the one-to-one ratio. The small group of protesters still gathered at the King Street entrance ask questions of the police officers, or in the case of Valerie, a home health care worker from Madison, heckle them.
"Why are you violating the court's order?" she yelled. The 2:15 p.m. hearing today regarding the temporary restraining order issued by Dane County Judge Daniel Moeser this morning continues well past 5 p.m., with the intention of clarifying the Capitol's "open to the public" policies for frustrated protesters.