Statewide protests against Walker's budget repair bill - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Statewide protests against Walker's budget repair bill

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Wisconsin (WXOW) -- The controversy swells as public employees, students and teachers protest Gov. Scott Walker's latest plan to balance the state budget.

That plan includes a change in union bargaining rights, which only allows unions to negotiate wages.

Protesters spoke out across the state in opposition to the governor's budget repair bill.

Dozens turned out in front of the governor's mansion Sunday morning with signs.

Walker's bill requires state employees to put 5.8 percent of their pay toward their pension and to pay at least 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums.

One state worker says that's going to hurt, more than help, his family.

"This will directly affect me. By a quick calculation, my family's income will go down $4,000 a year, under current proposals," protester Rob Koenig says.

The bill exempts local police, firefighters and state troopers. That is another contentious issue among workers.

Protesters also gathered outside the State Capitol building.

Organizers say they're impressed with the turnout, considering they put the rally together on Facebook only a few hours before it started.

Some 100 union members marched to Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald's house in Horicon to protest the bill.

The legislature is expected to take it up this week.

Governor Walker says the changes are necessary to trim the deficit and avoid massive layoffs, but those protesting disagree.

"Scott Walker is refusing to go after this in a way that would be helpful for people and what he's going to do is drive everyone's wages down which is going to effect all the businesses in the area. There's no reason whatsoever that I can think of for anyone to support this bill. It's going to hurt everyone in the end. Driving down wages is never our answer," protester Mike LeBouton says.

Speaker Fitzgerald said in a statement, Wisconsin is out of money. He says Walker is just asking state employees to tighten their belts and share some of the burden, as other families are doing.

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