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Battle Over Who Pays State Deficit Intensifies

In dozens of states resistance movement grows against shifting burden of deficit crisis onto public sector workers

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Story Transcript

Across the United States, many state lawmakers continue to push for legislation that they

say 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 are

necessary in order to balance their states’ budgets.

However, an increasingly vocal number of people are claiming that such measures

disproportionately place the burden on working families rather than targeting high-

income earners.

Others take issue with what they see as an attack against worker’s rights with legislation

seeking to curb union power and in some cases like the state of Wisconsin, effectively

eliminate collective bargaining rights for most state employees.

On Friday March 18th, Dane County, Wisconsin judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary

restraining order blocking governor Scott Walker’s anti-collective bargaining measure

from coming into effect citing that Republican senators had violated the state’s open

meeting laws.

Opponents of Walker’s legislation continue to hold demonstrations while discussions

and planning continue over the potential for calling a general strike and a pushing for a

movement 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 introduced

legislation aimed at rolling back or eliminating collective bargaining rights including

Alaska, Nevada, California, and several others bringing the total to more than a dozen

states.

Some states are plowing through anti-collective bargaining legislation like in Iowa,

Florida, and Ohio, which witnessed protests this week against controversial Senate Bill 5

which 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 legislation

as in the cases of New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

Opposition strategies seeking to challenge various legislative proposals have manifested

This week Indiana House democrats remained out of the state in neighboring Illinois in

what has become one of the longest walkouts in national history in order to prevent the

passage of legislation attacking unions and education spending.

High school and university students constitute an increasingly critical base of resistance

against legislation aimed at cutting education funding and weakening the labor rights

of teachers. On Monday March 25th, thousands of students mobilized in Nevada to

demonstrate against planned cuts in education spending.

Calls for alternative sources of funding to alleviate state deficits are becoming more

pronounced in the national debate over budget cuts and state spending. In Connecticut, a

coalition of community groups and union activists are calling on the governor to increase

taxes for the wealthiest state residents. While such calls to “tax the rich” are increasingly

common, such measures as the estate tax remain largely unpopular amongst a significant

segment of the population.

With many state budget deadlines approaching and a number of state legislators at a

political impasse, popular pressure continues to mount as the battle over who is going to

pay for the deficit crisis intensifies.

Report by David Dougherty

The Real News