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Tea party leaders back Walker in union battle

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Dozens of leaders of the tea party movement have come out in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his standoff with Democrats and public-sector unions over the state's budget deficit.

The newly elected Republican governor has been pressing for major cuts in benefits and other compensation for state workers, and is also demanding public-sector unions give up their right to negotiate issues beyond base pay in future contract talks. The move has sparked days of angry demonstrations by teachers and other public-sector unions in Madison.

While Wisconsin Senate Democrats have fled the state in a bid to keep the legislature from acting, tea party activists in a letter made public Wednesday said the governor's efforts to press forward in balancing the state's budget were to be commended and supported.

“We are writing to you today to let you know that you have our gratitude, our support, and our encouragement . . . to balance your state's budget without raising taxes,” the tea party leaders wrote. “Wisconsin government, like the federal government, has become too big, too expensive, too in debt, and it is not going to embrace change easily.”

The letter was signed by 52 tea party leaders, including Michael Hintze of the Wisconsin Tea Party Patriots and Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express.

Mr. Walker was elected last fall in part on promises to cut both taxes and states spending. Union leaders say they are willing to consider cuts but will not surrender their collective-bargaining rights.

The tea party leaders urged the governor to stand fast.

“Your effort to balance your budget and rein in government spending is a test of whether we will continue to have, as our Founders established, a government of, by, and for the people,” the letter said.

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