The political standoff in Wisconsin, where state Senate Democrats have fled the state in order to block the budget quorum on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal and its anti-public employee union sections, is about to face an acid test: Tomorrow, Walker says, he will have to begin sending out layoff notices.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
“Even today I hold out some hope that this can be resolved by the Senate coming back,” Walker said in an interview Thursday. “But by the end of the day tomorrow, we have a legal and a moral obligation to start forewarning people.”
Walker has said that he would seek the layoffs of up to 1,500 state employees in an attempt to save $30 million to help address the state’s fiscal problems. He said he would seek to protect workers in round-the-clock jobs such as prison guards and medical staff.
Walker has previously warned of painful cuts if the Democrats don’t come back and pass his budget, which would remove most collective bargaining and union rights for public employees.
But regardless of the potential fiscal realities, one thing that could hurt his political position in the state is the fact that he also spoke of layoffs in a different context: His phone call with blogger Ian Murphy, who was posing as Republican financier David Koch, in which Walker spoke of using layoff threats as political leverage: “We might ratchet that up a little bit, you know.”