GREEN BAY - Wisconsin's governor faced some tough questions from lawmakers in the nation's capitol Thursday. Governor Walker testified to a Congressional committee. The topic: government debt.
The governor explained the changes he's pushing for Wisconsin, specifically the disputed law he's signed which takes away most contract negotiating rights for most public employees.
"This ultimately is good for the economy in our state as well because in the end investors, investors want to look at a state where the state and local government is stable," said Walker, R-Wisconsin.
"You can get this job done, you can balance your budget, you can create jobs in your state, without taking on the basic right of collective bargaining," Shumlin, D-Vermont, told the committee.
Democratic Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich asked the Governor about the savings resulting from part of his plan which requires unions to hold annual votes to continue representing membership.
"Would you answer the question? How much money does it save Governor? Just answer the question," Kucinich asked Walker.
Walker's response: "That particular part doesn't save any. It's the same as if...."
Kucinich then said, while Walker continued his response, "That's the point. It obviously has no effect whatsoever...I'm reclaiming my time. It obviously had no effect on the state budget."
Virginia's Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly asked the governor if he explicitly campaigned on the issue of collective bargaining. The governor said he talked about a broad spectrum of issues.
"You might concede that some might be surprised then that you made collective bargaining such a centerpiece of your so-called reform efforts, after you were sworn in?" Connolly asked Walker.
"No," replied Walker. "And I'd say no because for eight years as county executive I not only talked about it and brought up, I did what was called a reality tour, where I talked about the challenges that we were unsustainable and that collective bargaining was driving that."
Another representative from Tennessee asked the governor about the requirement for states to have balanced budgets.
"Do you believe that these constitutional requirements give you additional support and leverage you need to make the difficult decisions that need to be made to get your fiscal spending under control?" asked Representative Scott DesJarlais , R-Tennessee.
"Yes and I think both of us as governors, talking about the fact that as governors, even regardless of party, for us to succeed and to have states that grow the economy, we have to have a balanced budget," Walker responded. "Whether there's a constitutional requirement, a legal requirement or otherwise, I think the states that are going to succeed, regardless of who the governor is, are the states that take their fiscal challenges head on."
While the governor said people should not be surprised by his changes to collective bargaining, he said the level of national attention Wisconsin received earlier this year, did surprise him.
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