MADISON, Wis., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker warned Sunday of 12,000 public sector layoffs if unions do not make concessions.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," the Republican governor said 5,000 to 6,000 state employees and 5,000 to 6,000 local government staff could lose their jobs if they resist changes in their benefits plans.
"I don't want a single person laid off in the public nor in the private sector, and that's why this is a much better alternative than losing jobs," he said.
Walker's proposed budget, which would limit workers' collective bargaining rights as well as increase their contributions to pensions and healthcare coverage, has set off huge protests in Madison, and Democratic senators have fled the state to prevent a vote on it.
"If we're going to be in this together, (cut) our $3.6 billion budget deficit, it's going to take a whole lot more than just employee contributions when it comes to pensions and healthcare," he said. "But it's got to be a piece of the puzzle because, as I saw at the local level, it's like a virus that eats up more and more of the budget if you don't get it under control."