Since it's come up in another thread, I'd be interested to see some more detailed discussion of Walker's plans. The actual text of the bill in question is here
In exchange for bearing more costs and losing bargaining leverage, the state's 170,000 public employees were promised no furloughs or layoffs. Mr. Walker has threatened to order layoffs of up to 6,000 state workers if the measure fails.
President Barack Obama called Mr. Walker's bill an "assault on unions." He made the remark in the course of an interview with a Milwaukee radio station about federal budget issues.
"I think it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends," Mr. Obama said. "These are folks who are teachers and they're firefighters and they're social workers and they're police officers."
Mr. Walker said the dramatic action is necessary to close the state's gaping budget hole for the fiscal year starting in July and avoid massive employee layoffs.
"We're at a point of crisis," Mr. Walker told reporters. And while he said he appreciated the concerns of the public employees shouting outside his office door, taxpayers "need to be heard as well."
Beyond eliminating collective bargaining rights, the bill would force public workers to pay half the cost of their pensions and at least 12.6% of their health-care coverage.
Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO called the bill "an attack on organized labor and middle class values. "The protests have been among the most well attended in recent Wisconsin history."
Walker has called the bill "a modest proposal", though I'm guessing he doesn't know the historical context behind that phrase
After introducing the bill only a week ago, Walker intends to put it to a final vote today and pass it into law with a bare minimum of discussion from legislators or the public. About 30,000 people are expected to be in and around the capitol building today in protest, with thousands more protesting elsewhere in the state. Students are staging walkouts in support of the teachers' unions. Madison schools were expected to be closed for the second day in a row as teachers call in sick in order to attend the protests. Parents have generally supported these measures.
Despite the bill pointedly excluding police, state patrol officers, and firefighters from the restrictions, those groups have all openly joined in the public protests. The bill also bans public employers from collecting union dues and would make it more difficult for unions to re-certify themselves.
Regardless of the content of the bill, I don't think it's right to rush it through with so little scrutiny and discussion. However you look at it, it's a serious piece of legislation, overturning a fifty-year tradition in the state, and Walker's haste is only making it look like he fears any possibility of reasoned opposition to the plan.
Also, there is some serious disagreement as to how necessary it is overall. The state budget numbers Walker has been presenting are different from the figures published by the Wisconsin Board of Fiscal Policy, leading to accusations that he's spinning the numbers to make the budget crisis look worse than it is.
Since this is something that will deeply affect my home state (ironically, the same state that was the birthplace of the national union representing all non-federal public employees) for years to come, I'd be very interested in hearing other views on the situation.