Gov. Walker Suggests Obama ‘Simply Misunderstands’ the Situation in Wisconsin

By Susan Jones | March 1, 2011 | 5:16am EST

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses the media at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

( – Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Monday issued a statement “in response to President Obama’s misunderstanding” of the situation in Wisconsin.

Gov. Walker’s office released the statement after Obama referred to the union protests in Wisconsin while addressing a governors’ meeting in Washington:

"I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon," Obama said. "We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service. These times demand it."

In response, Gov. Walker said:

I'm sure the President knows that most federal employees do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits while our plan allows it for base pay. And I'm sure the President knows that the average federal worker pays twice as much for health insurance as what we are asking for in Wisconsin. At least I would hope he knows these facts. 

Furthermore, I’m sure the President knows that we have repeatedly praised the more than 300,000 government workers who come to work every day in Wisconsin. 

I’m sure that President Obama simply misunderstands the issues in Wisconsin, and isn’t acting like the union bosses in saying one thing and doing another.

To balance the state budget, Gov. Walker has proposed that the state's public employees contribute more toward their own pensions and pay 12.6 percent toward their healthcare premiums.

While those benefits would no longer fall under collective bargaining, their salaries would remain subject to collective bargaining.

Walker says the budget fix he is proposing would save the state $165 million.

Outraged union leaders, union members, and their supporters have waged daily protests at the capitol in Madison against what they describe as union-busting moves.

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed the governor’s budget plan, but the state Senate cannot act on it because 14 Democrats have fled to Illinois, denying the quorum needed for a vote.

On Monday, Gov. Walker said if the runaway Democrats don’t return to work on Tuesday, allowing a “budget repair” bill to pass, he will have to start laying off teachers this week.

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