It's the local battle with national implications, as Washington, in the midst of its own budget battle, has weighed in on the situation in Wisconsin that is drawing thousands of upset state workers to rally in the state's capital - many teachers included - over a proposal to eliminate some collective bargaining rights as part of the bid by the Governor to balance the state's budget immediately and make it easier to do so going forward.
Meanwhile one lawmaker among the group of state Democratic lawmakers who have delayed a vote on the bill with the proposed changes by not showing up - expects a vote at an unspecified later date.
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach said Thursday in a statment that there will be a vote on a proposal at some point, but did not elaborate further. Not enough senators showed up to vote on the bill Thursday, leaving the legislative body without a quorum.
This is an extreme piece of Legislation that is being rushed through, Erpenbach said. This bill rips the fabric of our communities apart. Republicans who control this Legislature have made the choice to close their doors and not to listen to the tens of thousands of people who have gathered in protest all over the state. There will be a vote on a proposal at some point. I urge the Majority to sit down to find common ground for their constituents and my constituents.
The protesters have flooded the state's capital over the past few days with dramatic images emerging of thousands of workers protesting in the capitol building and in nearby streets. More anti-policy protests are planned for Friday by the Wisconsin Education Association Council but various Tea Party groups backing the moves are set to hold their own pro-policy rally on the scene on Saturday.
President Barack Obama has expressed support for unions and House Speaker John Boehner has thrown his support behind the Republican governor aiming to enact stern new rules to cut costs.
While [the President] understands the needs that -- the challenges that governors face to deal with their own fiscal issues and the need to make tough budget decisions, as he is making here at the federal level, what he sees happening in Wisconsin -- making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain -- seems more like an assault on unions. And he doesn't see that as a good thing, said White House Spokesman Jay Carney on Thursday.
Obama's Wisconsin branch of his grass roots group Organizing for America - an arm of the Democratic National Committee - is taking part in organizing the protests on the ground and by tweeting live from the rallies and pulling together the voices, videos, and photos of this movement, according to a blog post on the OfA website.
I urge the president to order the DNC to suspend these tactics, Boehner said in a statement. This is not the way you begin an 'adult conversation' in America about solutions to the fiscal challenges that are destroying jobs in our country.
Boehner also pointed on Thursday to several Republican governors, including Walker, as officials speaking the truth about the tough fiscal situations beyond the federal level.
Republicans in Congress - and reform-minded GOP governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich [OH] and Chris Christie [NJ] - are daring to speak the truth about the dire fiscal challenges Americans face at all levels of government, and daring to commit themselves to solutions that will liberate our economy and help put our citizens on a path to prosperity, Boehner said.
I'm disappointed that instead of providing similar leadership from the White House, the president has chosen to attack leaders such as Gov. Walker, who are listening to the people and confronting problems that have been neglected for years at the expense of jobs and economic growth, Boehner said.
Meanwhile, Walker is calling on Democratic senators absent to return and vote.
Out of respect for the institution of the Legislature and the democratic process, I am calling on Senate Democrats to show up to work today, debate legislation and cast their vote, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said on Thursday.
Their actions by leaving the state and hiding from voting are disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of public employees who showed up to work today and the millions of taxpayers they represent, he said.
Mark Miller, the Democratic minority leader in Wisconsin's Senate on Wednesday remarked on the number of people descending on the state capital of Madison.
Thousands of citizens, young and old, union and non-union, labor and management, from every corner of the state, have travelled to the Capitol over the last several days to exercise their right to speak to their elected officials, he said.
The Governor and legislative Republicans have clearly made a serious overreach with their effort to take away the rights of nurses, teachers, child care workers, prison guards and other public workers to bargain with their employers, he said.
Walker proposed a budget repair bill last week, saying we must take immediate action to ensure fiscal stability in our state.
This budget repair bill will meet the immediate needs of our state and give government the tools to deal with this and future budget crises, he said at the time.
Beyond making cuts to balance the state's budget by July 1, he also is seeking to require that state employees pay what is about the private sector national average for toward their pension (5.8 percent) and about half the private sector national overage for their healthcare benefits (12 percent).
The most controversial part of the bill, however gives the state and local governments the tools to manage spending reductions through changing some provisions of the state's collective bargain laws, according to a statement from Walkers office released last week.
State and local employees could continue to bargain for base pay, but they would not be able to bargain over other compensation measures, the governor's office said.
Local police, fire and state patrol would be exempted from the changes.
Other changes would include state and local governments not collecting union dues, requiring annual certification in a secret ballot, and allowing any employee to opt out of paying union dues, the statement said.