MANITOWOC - More than $1 billion.
That's how much Republican Gov. Scott Walker says his budget reforms have saved taxpayers.
Flanked by area officials at the Manitowoc County Highway Department Monday, Walker didn't take long to argue the benefits of his contentious Act 10, which stripped public employees of most collective bargaining rights.
"We're able to document over $1 billion of savings, to the taxpayer of the state of Wisconsin because of our reforms," said Walker.
Walker says that number comes from media reports, local budgets and local governments across the state.
Legislative Fiscal Bureau Director Bob Lang tells FOX 11 that the governor's number of $1 billion saved is "generally consistent with what was projected when the budget was put together."
Walker says the reforms are saving "real" money which is re-invested in the state.
But some protesters outside of the event have a different view.
"I don't feel he's protecting us," said Kay Jandrey of Valders. "I think from what they're saying, we're going to have a deficit at the end of this year and he said he's saving us (money)? He's saving jobs? Our teachers in Manitowoc are getting laid off."
According to numbers released by the Department of Public Instruction last week, teachers and other staff working in Wisconsin schools dropped 2.3 percent this school year.
Overall, schools cut more than 2,300 positions.
"I want more teachers, I don't want fewer teachers," explained Eric Everson at the Walker event in Manitowoc.
Everson is the Fond du Lac School Board president. He says he was initially apprehensive about the reforms when passed last year. However, he says they have led to closing the district's budget gap and extended the school day to allow more teacher collaboration.
"We were able to make our budget and close a $4.7 million budget deficit," said Everson. "And when 43 teachers retired, we hired 43 teachers for the first time in my tenure as board president, so I am touting (Act 10), it's exciting stuff."
However, state Democrats say while there might be a few positive anecdotes regarding the governor's reforms, that's all there are. Just a few.
"Property taxes have gone up, property values have gone down," said Graeme Zielinski, the communications director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. "Teachers are being cut; we continue to lead the nation in job loss. We have a bigger structural deficit than when (Governor Scott Walker) came into office. He's got a really counter-factual version of events."
The governor and five other state Republicans are facing recall elections. The primary for the governor's race is May 8. The recall election is June 5.
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