Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker
Thursday told Fox News he is personally appealing to Democratic state lawmakers – who fled the state to circumvent voting on a budget bill that would curb union rights – to return and participate in the legitimate process, or law enforcement might again “seek them out.”
The governor is trying to reduce a $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. The state has been rocked by massive demonstrations, and the walkout of the 14 state senators, in protest of legislation that would strip teachers and other public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights and cut their benefits.
“They’re hiding out in another state. You know, unlike the vast majority of state and local government employees, most of those employees – 300,000 – showed up for work today,” Walker told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren in a telephone interview. “Unlike those around the Capitol, and unlike those 14 state senators, Democrats, who decided to hide out, apparently down in Rockford, Illinois … They’re hiding out in hopes that somehow that will test the resolve.
“If anything, I think it’s made the Republicans in the Assembly and Senate stronger. They’re not going to be bullied, they’re not going to be intimidated,” he said. “I’ve said all along: The thousands of people who are storming the Capitol have a right to be heard. But I’m not going to let them overshadow the voices of the millions of taxpayers in the state of Wisconsin who deserve to be heard, as well.”
Van Susteren asked if the senators have indicated they are coming back, or will it become a standoff to see “who cries uncle first.”
“Well, I think the bottom line is we're making an appeal for the senators to come and do their job. That, if they talk about democracy, democracy doesn't come by hiding out in another state, avoiding any real debate about a measure,” Walker said. “They should come to the Senate.
“I've made a personal appeal to all the senators to come back, do their job, to take as much time as they want to debate, to offer as many amendments as they want, but to not hide out down in Illinois as a way of trying to not deal with this,” he continued. “We should have a right to have a vote on it. We're going to push this.
“Senate rules allow … to have law enforcement go out and seek them out,” Walker said, adding he hopes the situation doesn’t deteriorate that far, as “That would be ridiculous.”
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