A rally for workers’ rights is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., March 1 at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Building on more than two weeks of ongoing protest, the rally will include members of unions such as the TAA, WFNP, SEIU, and the AFL-CIO. They will also be joined by students, as well as both political and religious leaders. The rally follows more than two weeks of ongoing protest against the recently-introduced Budget Repair Bill which would cut benefits for state employees and severely restrict collective bargaining in the public sector.
According to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the purpose of the Budget Repair Bill is, among other things, to avoid the layoffs that he says would otherwise be required to balance the state budget. A recent working paper by UW professor Andrew Reschovsky suggests that the governor’s budget—which will delivered in an address to a Joint Session of the Wisconsin Legislature at 4PM today—will likely result in a financial shortfall, regardless of the effects of the Budget Repair Bill. Local school districts are expected to be especially hard hit due to a reduction in state aid, coupled with restrictions on their ability to raise additional revenue through increased property taxes.
In response to these findings, State Superintendent Tony Evers issued a press release stating that under Governor Walker’s reported budget, “public school children will suffer the greatest state cut to education since the Great Depression.” In order to meet predicted financial demands, local school districts will likely be forced to increase class sizes, cut programs, and layoff teachers and other staff.