Government and Political News: Walker hears protestors in Michigan, IllinoisWisconsin News
-- Hundreds of United Auto Workers’ employees picketed outside a Republican fund-raiser near Detroit last night where Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appeared.
Hundreds of United Auto Workers’ employees picketed outside a Republican fund-raiser near Detroit last night where Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appeared. Walker spoke at a Ronald Reagan memorial dinner at the San Marino Club in Troy Michigan. The U-A-W said its demonstration protested what it called a shared agenda by Walker and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to quote, “cut taxes on the wealthy while shifting the tax burden to middle-class workers.” Republican House candidate Don Volaric was booed by protestors as he entered the hall. Volaric said the union’s divisiveness wouldn’t cure anything. And he said he appreciates Walker’s character, and his willingness to stick to his principles as he faces a recall election on June fifth. Earlier yesterday, police in Springfield Illinois said up to four-thousand union protestors picketed Walker’s appearance at the Illinois Employers’ Action Day put on by that state’s Chamber-of-Commerce. Walker told reporters his appearance was intended to send a message to Wisconsin voters about quote, “The mess that you have in state government here in Springfield, to know what it would be like if the recall prevailed.” Inside the hall, Walker received two standing ovations from the Illinois business leaders. He criticized that state’s multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, last year’s 67-percent income tax increase, and a higher jobless rate in Illinois than in Wisconsin.
State officials say Wisconsin’s public schools cut over 23-hundred positions this school year. That’s the most in the nine years that the Department of Public Instruction has recorded staffing levels. The D-P-I said almost three-of-every-four school districts had staffing cuts – while over half the schools which increased their staffs had higher student enrollments. Teaching jobs made up 60-percent of the reductions. And the D-P-I said class sizes grew, as the student-to-teacher ratio grew from 14-point-33 to 14-point-66 – the highest in nine years. State Superintendent Tony Evers said staffing losses erode public schools. He said there needs to be a quote, “bi-partisan investment in public education instead of continually forcing cuts on school districts.” Governor Scott Walker’s office countered that 43-percent of the staffing cuts came from Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Janesville – which didn’t take advantage of tools for recovering most of their losses in a state aid. Those three districts did not have staffers pay higher pensions and health insurance costs, which would have raised their revenues and prevented larger staffing cuts.
Yesterday’s tax deadline day was also National Pay Equity Day – and several events were held throughout Wisconsin to call attention to the lower pay that women receive. At the State Capitol, Madison attorney Linda Roberson said Wisconsin’s working women lose 10-billion-dollars a year because they only make 78-cents for every dollar a man makes. Outside the Capitol, WEAC teachers’ union president Mary Bell said three-of-every-four teachers are women – and those women are de-valued when society accepts the fact that they’re underpaid. In La Crosse, state Senate Democrat Jennifer Shilling slammed the Republicans’ repeal of the 2009 Democratic law which allowed victims of pay-and-job discrimination to sue their bosses in state court. It was a more affordable option than suing in the federal courts. Shilling said Wisconsin had the nation’s 36th largest pay gap between men-and-women before the law took effect. But the state only had the 24th largest pay gap a year ago, and Shilling credited the lawsuit option that Governor Scott Walker repealed earlier this month. Assembly Democrat Steve Doyle of Onalaska told the La Crosse Equal Pay event that men are also affected by the pay disparity. Doyle says it can persuade employers to pass over male job candidates in favor of less expensive women.
Vietnam’s ambassador to the U-S and his staff spent time in Madison this week. They met with State Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel and industry representatives to talk about a growing relationship between Vietnam and the Badger State. They discussed opportunities to export dairy products – as well as animal feed, grains, ginseng, livestock genetics, and technology. Brancel said two Vietnamese feed buyers will attend World Dairy Expo’s Asian Feed Buyers’ Mission this fall in Madison. And they’ll meet one-on-one with Wisconsin and Midwest feed exporters to develop new business relationships. Last year, Wisconsin exported 39-million-dollars in agricultural products to Vietnam – a 55-percent increase from the previous year. Brancel went to Vietnam last January to learn more about marketing opportunities.