Jeb Bush took a lot of hits last week for suggesting that Americans “need to work longer hours.”
But Scott Walker has gone Bush one better. The governor of Wisconsin and Bush rival for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination just codified the concept.
The state budget that Walker signed on Sunday as Wisconsin’s governor includes a provision that eliminates a historic guarantee that factory and retail employees “must get at least 24 consecutive hours of rest for every seven-day stretch” of work.
That does not sound very worker-friendly. And that’s cool by Walker.
The Wisconsin governor is running for the presidency as the guy who cracked down on workers and their unions—and who delivered for corporations and their CEOs—and the budget he just signed offers a signal of just how far he and his allies are willing to go.
Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature dutifully delivered a budget to Walker before his announcement. But the document was so fundamentally flawed that a dozen Republicans in the state Assembly and Senate joined Democrats in opposing it.
The Republicans did not say much about why they were voting “no,” although the prospect of having to defend cuts to higher education, funding schemes that threaten rural schools, blows to programs that care for the elderly and the disabled and fiscally irresponsible borrowing undoubtedly weighed on the 11 Republican representatives and one Republican senator who refused to support the budget. So too, surely, did concerns about having to explain a budget that rips up prevailing wage, living-wage and workplace protections for workers who have already taken hard hits.
If the Republican “no” votes were cast quietly, the Democratic “no” votes came with a bang.
State Representative Dianne Hesselbein referred to the measure as the “worst budget ever.”
“The awfulness of this budget is truly extraordinary,” added state Representative Melissa Sargent, another Democrat. “I can’t decide which is worse—the cuts to public education at every level, the attacks on workers, or the dismantling of aging and long-term care programs. Then again, there’s always the disregarding of conservation and natural resources, the preemption of local control, or the kickbacks to special interests—those could be contenders, too. Really, take your pick.”