Health Benefits A Key Part Of Partisan Battle In Wisconsin
A proposal by Wisconsin's new Republican governor to change state worker benefits, including collective bargaining on health care, led to a stand-off in the state Senate Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal: Union Fight Heats Up
Democratic lawmakers fled the state Thursday in an effort to torpedo a closely watched vote on what would be the nation's first major overhaul of union laws in years, as government workers flooded the statehouse for a third day seeking to block passage of the bill. ... The governor's proposal, part of a bill aimed at overcoming a $137 million deficit in the current budget and a projected $3.6 billion hole in the next two years, would allow collective bargaining on wages, but not pensions and health care. Workers would be required to pay more for both (Maher and Belkin, 2/18).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Democrats Flee State To Avoid Vote On Budget Bill
[The bill] would require most public workers to pay half their pension costs - typically 5.8% of pay for state workers - and at least 12% of their health care costs. It applies to most state and local employees but does not apply to police, firefighters and state troopers, who would continue to bargain for their benefits (Stein, Marley and Schultze, 2/17).
Star Tribune: Madison Protests Grow, And Senate Democrats Dash
The battle lines between unions and governing Republicans are rapidly becoming a national issue. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed support for Wisconsin teachers (Helgeson, 2/18).
The Hill: Boehner Wades Into Wisconsin Labor Battle, Backing GOP Governor
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stepped into the heated labor debate in Wisconsin on Thursday, backing GOP Gov. Scott Walker's proposed reforms to collective bargaining rights (O'Brien, 2/17).