Facing a $175 billion shortfall, governors across America are using the same script - help business and super-rich supporters with tax cuts, other benefits, and austerity for state employees when they need help, not cutbacks.
For 10 days, Wisconsin's Republican GovernorScott Walker made headlines, demanding draconian harshness for public workers. Protests continue, including huge crowds expected this weekend, maintaining pressure for social justice against a governor told by Republican leaders, corporate bosses and funders to give none.
Senate Democrats haven't returned. House ones introduced scores of amendments to stall and force debate ending in defeat along party lines. Preserving collective bargaining rights is central. Democrats agree with Republicans and union bosses on wage and benefit cuts up to $400 or more a month, besides furloughs and other concessions.
Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich proposes tougher measures than Wisconsin, promising to stay the course to enact them. Former Governor Ted Strickland, his predecessor, called his bill a "coordinated attack on the working class."
A February 20 Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial headlined, "Rethink, repair public employee collective bargaining law," saying:
"The state should not be in the business of dictating terms....of what should be collectively bargained (for in) local labor agreements. (It's) unfortunate the GOP approach has been to set a maximalist tone on an issue that should be looked at carefully - before discarding a system" that's stood the test of time for decades and should be preserved.
The proposed bill "is incontestably radical." Instead, the current "debate should be, 'Mend - don't end," and don't make workers bear the burden for state shortfalls in lieu of more equitable solutions.
In Indiana, Republicans back a "right-to-work" bill, prohibiting union-employer agreements requiring workers join public or private sector unions and pay dues. As in Wisconsin, Democrats left the state to stop it. Thousands of workers rallied on Statehouse grounds. Republican Governor Mitch Daniels supported the bill conceptually, but on February 22 urged Republicans to drop it because it interferes with his agenda.