Scott Wheeler Interview with Wisconsin State Assemblyman Jim Ott on the battle with public sector unions. (This interview will air nationwide this Saturday on Special Investigator with Scott Wheeler Click Here to See Listings)
Wheeler: For nearly a month the Madison, the capitol of Wisconsin has been the site of public sector union protests for what they claim are “union busting” measures against what government employees their collective bargaining “rights.” Special Investigator caught up with Republican Wisconsin State Assemblyman Jim Ott.
Assemblyman Ott: Certainly the public sector unions have done a very effective job I think in marketing this as its taking away from employees’ rights- which is not exactly what is happening. First of all, collective bargaining is not a right it’s not in the constitution….. It’s a privilege granted by the legislature.
Wheeler: The controversy began when the newly elected governor, Scott Walker, was forced to deal with state budget shortfalls he inherited from his Democratic predecessor. What can you tell us about what is going on in the Assembly in Wisconsin and what are the concerns for you as an assemblyman?
Ott: Well Scott last week a couple of weeks ago Governor Scott Walker introduced his budge repair bill the purpose of that bill is to deal with the xxx million dollar budget deficit that the state of Wisconsin is under the current budget that runs through June 30th of this year. There were issues in that bill that the Democrats vehemently objected to the point that in the assembly where we have a large enough Republican majority that we didn’t even need the democrats to be there would have required that three fifths of the assembly to be there well we have more than a three fifths majority. What the Democrats did was basically tried to filibuster we were in session over sixty hours finally we had to call the bill for a vote which of course passed.
Wheeler: According to Ott, things began to turn sour once the bill reached the Wisconsin senate where there are more Democrats.
Ott: In the state senate where the republicans hold a 19 to 14 majority you would need three fifths again for a bill that has financial aspects to it so you would need 20 senators to be present. What the democrats in the senate did was left town and they all went down to Illinois so this has been going on for three weeks now. And they refuse to come back to take a vote on the bill.
Wheeler: Special Investigator asked Mary Allen, a Conservative activist from Wisconsin, for her view of what is taking place in her home state.
Mary Allen: We are in the eye of the storm. We are very very proud of our Governor, Scott Walker for taking on the unions and we are proud of the Wisconsin state legislature.
Wheeler: Mary Allen has strong words for the Democrats who are refusing to vote on the budget that would allow the state more control over benefits received by state employees.
Allen: The fourteen flea baggers are in Illinois
Wheeler: the fourteen flea baggers?
Allen: Yes the fourteen flea baggers, that’s what we call them. The fourteen democrats who refuse to vote on the bill and left the state and they are at a water park in Illinois.
Wheeler: How do conservatives feel about them?
Allen: Well we are disgusted. …. They said they were coming back after having sixteen days of a temper-tantrum… and we think the unions called them and said not to. So Governor Walker and some of us are very fed up at this point. I think he is ready to take the gloves off. I hope so. We conservatives hope so.
Wheeler: Assemblyman Ott agrees that unions seem have too much leverage over matters that involve taxpayers money.
Ott: The problem with the collective bargaining in the public sector is you basically have the union representatives sitting on one side of the table and the other side of the table might be members of the school board who were supported by the teachers union or in the case of a municipality or township it might be members of the board on one side of the table who were supported by the members of the union who are sitting on the other side of the table the problem is the taxpayer is not adequately represented.
Wheeler: Both Ott and Allen see their state as the battleground for a much bigger fight that is starting to spread to other states as well.
Allen: It’s just that we would not be allowing unions to take our state hostage anymore because a lot of the funds that come from taxpayers right now are funneled back into Democrat coffers and used to elect people like Barrack Obama to office.
Ott: This goes well beyond Wisconsin.
Tune in to Special Investigator this Saturday to hear more (check local listings for times).
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