On the call, the governor said he was ratcheting up the pressure on Senate Democrats to return to the Capitol a week after they fled to block the legislation. He said he supported a move to require them to come to the Capitol to pick up their paychecks rather than have the money deposited directly.
He also floated an idea to lure Democratic senators back to the Capitol for negotiations and then have the Senate quickly pass the bill while they are in talks.
Walker said aides were reviewing whether the GOP could hold a vote if Democrats were not physically in the Senate chamber but elsewhere in the building. At the news conference, he insisted that idea was not a trick but an effort to get Democrats back to work.
Democrats seized on Walker’s recorded comments as evidence that the governor plans to go beyond budget cuts to crushing unions.
“This isn’t about balancing the budget. This is about a political war,” Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee yelled Wednesday on the floor of the state Assembly.
The governor’s plan would strip most public employees of their collective bargaining rights and force them to pay more for their health care and retirement benefits. Unions could not collect mandatory dues and would be forced to conduct annual votes of their members to stay in existence.
Read more Policy news:
ED to unions, districts: Can’t we all just get along?
Wisconsin protests grow as teachers balk at proposed legislation
Editorial: Public school employees under attack
The proposal has set off more than a week of protests at the Capitol.
The GOP-controlled state Assembly began debating the bill Tuesday and was still hearing dozens of Democratic amendments nearly 24 hours later before taking a break. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said he expected to take a vote on the bill by the end of the day.
Anti-union proposals in other states have also drawn protests, and Republican state senators in Ohio on Wednesday agreed to a small concession in a bill similar to the one in Wisconsin. They said they would support allowing unionized state employees to collectively bargain for wages – but not for benefits, sick time, vacation or other conditions. Wisconsin’s proposal also would allow state workers to collectively bargain only for wages.
On the call, Walker said he expected the anti-union movement to spread across the country and he had spoken with the governors of Ohio and Nevada. The man pretending to be Koch seemed to agree, telling Walker, “You’re the first domino.”
“Yep, this is our moment,” Walker responded.
The remarks showed Walker’s private relationship with David Koch. He and his brother, Charles, own Koch Industries Inc., which is the largest privately-owned company in America and has significant operations in Wisconsin.
Its political action committee gave $43,000 to Walker’s campaign, and David Koch gave $1 million to the Republican Governors’ Association, which funded ads attacking Walker’s opponent in last year’s election.
The Kochs also give millions to support Americans For Prosperity, a conservative business group that launched a $320,000 television ad campaign in favor of Walker’s legislation Wednesday. When the caller asked how he could help, Walker suggested outside groups could try to influence people to call their lawmakers and spread the message that his proposal is necessary.
On the recording, after Walker said he would be willing to meet with Democratic leaders, the caller said he should bring a baseball bat to negotiations.
Walker laughed and responded that he had “a slugger with my name on it.”