Gov. Scott Walker says he is open to limiting collective bargaining for police and firefighter unions, just as was done to other public sectors unions two years ago.
Walker's comments made during a speech in Milwaukee on Monday drew swift and negative reactions on Tuesday. He spoke about it his statement to reporters while preparing for the National Governor’s Association Conference.
“I'm not pursuing it, but it's one of those where I think in the future there's a possibility that that could at least be included in discussions,” Walker explained, “mainly because I think a lot of the people that predicted more negative outcomes for public employees in other areas, that just didn't materialize and its been good for the public employees at both a state and a local level.”
Wisconsin Professional Police Association executive director Jim Palmer says Walker made a "serious misstep" and "disappointing that public safety now appears to be taking a back seat to partisan presidential politics."
“It served the purpose of being an unfortunate presidential trial balloon, and I just don't think that will resonate with people in the state,” Palmer said.
Walker is frequently mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016.
Palmer added while the officers he represents are exempt from Act 10 currently, the union cannot negotiate health insurance under Act 32. In addition, Palmer said officers are paying more into their pensions.
“In the last year, the WPPA and law enforcement across the state has been very supportive of Governor Walker, particularly as it relates to state budget,” Palmer said. “We think he put law enforcement as a priority, and we've supportive in those endeavors.”
Walker told the Governmental Research Association meeting that he exempted police and firefighters in 2011 out of concerns that public safety would be jeopardized if they went on strike or took other job actions.
Dan Romportl, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s chief of staff, stated, “Senate Republicans have not discussed the issue (re-visiting Act 10 for police & fire) as a full caucus this session, and we have no plans to discuss it in the near future.”
Katie Beyer, communications director for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, echoed a similar sitution in the Assembly.
“Act 10 has saved taxpayers $2 billion and counting. Assembly Republicans continue to stand behind these reforms. However, there has not been any caucus discussion on the topic of expansion,” Beyer said.
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