Both speakers for and against Walker's plan addressed the committee.
"I feel this is a wonderful start and possibly the best way to make sure that the most people keep their jobs," said Sanna Huebschmann.
"Last year, I made $11,000 as a teaching assistant. I worked every single month out of the year, (and earned) $11,000. Now, you say that we get our health insurance paid, well look how much we make," said Jillian Jacklin.
"This bill is only the beginning. It is a bold start and we should all get ready for much more because we have reaped without sewing a single seed for a very long time now," said Kim Simac.
"With this bill, Wisconsin will not be open for business. It will be closed indefinitely for repair," said Christine Mattis.
On Tuesday, thousands of people converged at the state Capitol for rallies and to attend the public hearing on Gov. Scott Walker's proposal doing away with collective bargaining rights for public employees.
The Wisconsin Department of Administration estimated that 10,000 protesters demonstrated outside the Capitol on Tuesday, with 3,000 more filling the Capitol rotunda. The labor supporters are protesting Walker's budget repair bill, which would strip most state and local workers of collective bargaining rights, except when negotiating salary.
The protesters are taking issue with Walker's plan. The governor argues the workers are getting by easy compared to private sector employees and they need to be forced to pay more for health care benefits and their pensions. He's proposing that their rights to bargain over everything except wages to a limited extent be removed. Walker said the changes are needed to help deal with the state's projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall. Walker said he has nothing to negotiate with the unions over because the state is broke.
Unions and Democratic critics said Walker has declared war against middle-class workers and his proposal would devastate the state's economy. Union leaders said at a news conference Monday they're urging Walker to instead resume negotiations with the unions.
Protest Organized At Capitol
While lawmakers hear public testimony on the bill, state workers and several labor activist groups are making their voices heard outside the Capitol.
Protesters arrived by the bus load Tuesday morning and the crowd circled the Capitol. Some of the protesters carried signs calling to "Stop the Attack on Wisconsin Families and Workers." The crowd has been chanting "Kill the Bill" and "Recall Walker."
Members of ASCFME, educators and University of Wisconsin students chanted "Union Busting has got to go." Many protesters took residence on the steps or sidewalk of the Capitol while others have filed into the Capitol rotunda, where the hearing is being broadcast on several televisions. The crowd has occasionally burst in a chorus of boos in response to legislator's comments.
"Its about the assault on labor, an assault on the working human being, to take and throw away the contract and say it's balancing the budget is bull crap," said Marty Winchester, of ASCFME 1449.
A range of public employees and supporters joined members of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, The Democratic Party of Wisconsin and immigrant rights activists to stage rallies on the steps of the Capitol. Wisconsin Education Association Council will also be holding a candlelight vigil following the rallies.
"I'm proud of our state of Wisconsin, and I don't want to lose that pride," said Caryl Yasko, of Whitewater.
"I think he's got to get our message. I'm not a teacher either, but my daughters are in the Monona Grove School District, and they're tearing our teachers apart," said parent Rachel Winkley.
When firefighters arrived, carrying signs in support of the protesters, they received a huge ovation from the crowd. Local firefighters, such as local police and members of the Wisconsin State Patrol, are exempt in the bill.
"We're the first people you call when you have a problem, but these people do what they do day in and day out, and you don't even see their impact. They have an incredible impact that's not even stated or recognized," said Andrew Brandl, a Fitchburg firefighter.
Inside the Capitol, another 3,000 protesters continued the rally Tuesday.
Students, apparently from Madison East High School, could be seen marching down East Washington Avenue toward the Capitol shortly before noon. Some students said that teachers didn't accompany those marching downtown.
Amid all those opposing Walker and his bill was one Madison East High School student who wanted to show his support for the governor.
"I thought I'd come here, support the man I voted for and start a dialogue. I feel like a lot of people are coming out here ready to protest but they're not ready to understand the issue that's at hand," said Trevor Schumann, a student at Madison East High School.
Many against the bill said Tuesday it has nothing to do with money but rather workers' rights, and they're not going to lie down and let the bill pass.
Protesters outside the Capitol started to leave around 1 p.m., but many remained within the Capitol beating drums and occasionally chanting. Madison Teachers Inc. and other supporters renewed the protests outside the Capitol on Tuesday evening.