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“We can’t grow Ohio’s economy by destroying jobs and attacking the middle class,” Ms. Cafaro said. “Public employees in Ohio didn’t cause our budget problems, and they shouldn’t be blamed for something that’s not their fault.”
Mr. Walker reiterated Wednesday that public workers must make concessions to avoid thousands of government layoffs as the state grapples with a $137 million shortfall in its current budget and a projected $3.6 billion hole in the next two-year budget.
The marathon session in the Assembly was grand political theater, with exhausted lawmakers limping around the chamber, rubbing their eyes and yawning as Wednesday night dragged on.
Around midnight, Republican Rep. Dean Kaufert accused Democrats of putting on a show for the protesters. Democrats leapt up and started shouting.
“I’m sorry if democracy is a little inconvenient and you had to stay up two nights in a row,” Mr. Pocan said. “Is this inconvenient? Hell, yeah! It’s inconvenient. But we’re going to be heard!”
The Ohio and Wisconsin bills both would strip public workers at all levels of their right to collectively bargain benefits, sick time, vacations and other work conditions. Wisconsin’s measure exempts local police, firefighters and the state patrol and still lets workers collectively bargain their wages as long as they are below inflation. It also would require public workers to pay more toward their pensions and health insurance. Ohio’s bill, until Wednesday, would have barred negotiations on wages.
Ohio’s measure sits in a Senate committee. No vote has been scheduled on the plan, but thousands of protesters have gathered at the Statehouse to demonstrate, just as in Wisconsin.
In Indiana, Democrats successfully killed a Republican bill that would have prohibited union membership from being a condition of employment by leaving the state on Tuesday. They remained in Illinois in hopes of derailing other parts of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels’ agenda, including restrictions on teacher collective bargaining.
And in Oklahoma, a Republican-controlled state House committee on Wednesday narrowly approved legislation to repeal collective bargaining rights for municipal workers in that state’s 13 largest cities.
Associated Press writers Ryan J. Foley in Madison and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
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