Wisconsin lawmakers target state workers' union

An airline worker's sign reads 'Greed stole my pension'

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: They're looking for Democrats in Madison today. The Republican governor and GOP lawmakers need just one Democrat to allow for a quorum in the statehouse. That vote would let a bill pass in the legislature weakening the state workers' union. How does it affect you and me?

Jill Schlesinger is editor-at-large for CBS/MoneyWatch. She's with us live from New York. Good morning Jill.

JILL SCHLESINGER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: Why is the governor in Wisconsin proposing this change?

SCHLESINGER: Well, you know unlike the federal government, by law states can't operate with a deficit. Think of the situation as if its a family that's facing financial problems but can't use a credit card as a safety net. States have to make deep cuts in spending -- everything from pensions to programs are on the table.

CHIOTAKIS: Is this, Jill just about Wisconsin though, or is this going to spread do you think to other states?

SCHLESINGER: I think this is going to spread. There are similar battles being waged, from big states like New York and California and Illinois, down to the little ones like Rhode Island. States, cities and municipalities are simply getting crushed by the unrealistic promises made during the boom times.

CHIOTAKIS: And they're finding anything that they can to do this -- to get these budgets in balance right?

SCHLESINGER: Absolutely. And if we go back to our family analogy, if you made a promise of a donation when things were going good, but then you lost your job, you'd have to renege on that promise.

CHIOTAKIS: Jill Schlesinger from CBS/MoneyWatch. Thank you.

SCHLESINGER: Thank you.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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