Across the United States, many state lawmakers continue to push for legislation that theysay is urgently required to tackle soaring deficits.Many bills are calling for cuts in state spending across such areas as education,healthcare, social services, and public employee benefits which supporters assert arenecessary in order to balance their statesâ budgets.However, an increasingly vocal number of people are claiming that such measuresdisproportionately place the burden on working families rather than targeting high-income earners.Others take issue with what they see as an attack against workerâs rights with legislationseeking to curb union power and in some cases like the state of Wisconsin, effectivelyeliminate collective bargaining rights for most state employees.On Friday March 18th, Dane County, Wisconsin judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporaryrestraining order blocking governor Scott Walkerâs anti-collective bargaining measurefrom coming into effect citing that Republican senators had violated the stateâs openmeeting laws.Opponents of Walkerâs legislation continue to hold demonstrations while discussionsand planning continue over the potential for calling a general strike and a pushing for amovement to recall 6 republican senators who backed the bill.Over the past week a number of other states joined the ranks of those to have introducedlegislation aimed at rolling back or eliminating collective bargaining rights includingAlaska, Nevada, California, and several others bringing the total to more than a dozenstates.Some states are plowing through anti-collective bargaining legislation like in Iowa,Florida, and Ohio, which witnessed protests this week against controversial Senate Bill 5which has cleared part of the Ohio sate legislature and is on track to be signed into law.But not all states are directly confronting collective bargaining with targeted legislation,others are seeking to restrict unions through provisions included in budget cut legislationas in the cases of New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.Opposition strategies seeking to challenge various legislative proposals have manifestedThis week Indiana House democrats remained out of the state in neighboring Illinois inwhat has become one of the longest walkouts in national history in order to prevent thepassage of legislation attacking unions and education spending.High school and university students constitute an increasingly critical base of resistanceagainst legislation aimed at cutting education funding and weakening the labor rightsof teachers. On Monday March 25th, thousands of students mobilized in Nevada todemonstrate against planned cuts in education spending.Calls for alternative sources of funding to alleviate state deficits are becoming morepronounced in the national debate over budget cuts and state spending. In Connecticut, acoalition of community groups and union activists are calling on the governor to increasetaxes for the wealthiest state residents. While such calls to âtax the richâ are increasinglycommon, such measures as the estate tax remain largely unpopular amongst a significantsegment of the population.With many state budget deadlines approaching and a number of state legislators at apolitical impasse, popular pressure continues to mount as the battle over who is going topay for the deficit crisis intensifies.Report by David DoughertyThe Real News
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