Scott Walker's 2011 Budget drives Democratic voters to polls

By KBJR News 1

August 12, 2014 Updated Aug 12, 2014 at 8:16 PM CDT

DULUTH, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- There are a number of hotly contested races in the primary election in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Despite that, voter turn out has been relatively low in both states.

One race that has garnered a lot of attention in Wisconsin is the competitive Democratic primary to replace retiring State Senator Bob Jauch.

We are told by the candidates in this race that one of the issues driving Democratic voters to the polls is Governor Scott Walker's budget.

Janet Bewley is one of three candidates who has been hitting the campaign trail in the Democratic primary to replace retiring State Senator Bob Jauch.

A reoccurring talking point in the Democrat's bid is collective bargaining rights for public employee unions, and the Republican budget that stripped those rights from most state government employees.

"Removing someone's rights is never a good thing," Bewley said. "I don't think a right has a price tag on it where you can say we can take your rights away and we will save money. To me that is not an argument that should ever be made."

In 2011, Governor Scott Walker and state Republicans passed a budget, also known as Act 10, which was aimed at reducing the state's deficit.

The budget also removed collective bargaining rights for most Wisconsin government employees.

"Act 10 was a big win for the taxpayers of ours state, it saved the taxpayers some $3 billion," Governor Scott Walker said. "My goal as governor four years from now, if I am re–elected, in 2018 I want property taxes even lower for years from now."

The union protests over Governor's Walker's budget gained national attention in 2011.

"The nation really hadn't seen protests with that magnitude really for decades," said UWS political science professor Alisa Von Hagel.

Von Hagel says Wisconsin union enrollment has steadily decreased since Act 10.

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld the provision in Act 10 which does eliminate collective bargaining rights for most state employees," Von Hagel said.

As Democratic voters go to the polls with Governor Walker's budget battle in mind, Bewley says she is in favor of a full scale repeal of Act 10, but adds that might be unrealistic.

"I think the way to better go about it would be to pass laws that would be corrective measures to restore collective bargaining," Bewley said. "To do a whole scale repeal wouldn't happen there just would not be the political will."

Bewley faces two challengers in Tuesday's Democratic primary. Those candidates include Park Falls Mayor Tom Ratzlaff and Poplar businessman Gary Kauther.

Nick Minock