Does Wisconsin fight portend national conflict

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is inviting the Legislature over for burgers, brats and beer, but it will take more than a cookout to heal the wounds from Tuesday's recall election.

Walker became the first governor to survive a recall election -- two others were thrown out of office -- after he took away union rights from most public employees and required them to pay more for their health insurance pension benefits.

That triggered a recall petition which received 900,000 signatures, but Walker defeated opponent Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barret by a wider margin, 53 to 46 percent, than he did in the regular election in 2010.

Democrats point to out-of-state spending for Walker's victory, but Republicans note that many of the 2.5 million who cast votes Tuesday were union members themselves.

Walker made the move to deal with a $3.6 billion budget shortfall shortly after he entered office, and went on to repeal a law giving discrimination victims more ways to sue for damages, cut public schools and higher education budgets, and required voters to sho photo identification at the polls.

More than $66 million was spent on the race by May 21, a record for Wisconsin.

Unlike the federal government, state governments have to balance their budgets, and most of the spending is for salaries.

On a smaller scale, Wisconsin is an illustration of the conflicts that will result if and when a president gets serious about putting Washington's fiscal house in order.

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