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Wisconsin politics: Loud left-right scrap

Wisconsin politics: Loud left-right scrap
U. S. President Barack Obama (R) is given a signed Green Bay Packers Charles Woodson jersey by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (C) and Green Bay mayor Jim Schmitt as he arrives at Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin on January 26, 2011. President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other members of the President's Cabinet traveled across the country Wednesday to highlight the administration's efforts to rebuild the American economy. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo

MADISON, Wis., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Wisconsin Democrats and labor leaders plotted recall elections as political tensions escalated over Republican budget plans to gut union workers' benefits.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget that would rein in pensions and healthcare benefits for state government employees last week launched a raucous public debate that saw 14 Democratic senators leave the state to prevent a vote on it, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

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Wisconsin has an estimated $3.6 billion deficit and Walker, in his first term, is trying to reduce it by making unionized state workers pay more into their healthcare and pension plans and end collective bargaining rights.

The Journal Sentinel said a move was afoot by Democrats and labor leaders to demand recall elections for several Republican state senators once Walker's budget eventually passes.

Saturday, tens of thousands of people converged on the Capitol in Madison, divided on Walker's cost-cutting measures, with an unprecedented security force of about 500 police officers, the newspaper said.

No violence or arrests were reported despite the loud and animated demonstrations.

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