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Gov. Walker Denies Exempting Police, Fire Unions was Political Favor

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R)
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R)

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker says it’s not true that he’s giving political favors to local police and fire unions by exempting them from massive cuts.

Walker tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his budget measures might cause some public workers to walk off their jobs. And the governor says Wisconsinites cannot afford to be without local police and fire service for even a short time.

So on Friday, Walker said he would exempt those officers from his plans to let public unions bargain only for their wages – limit their pay raises to inflation in most cases – and make them pay more for their health insurance and pensions.

Patrick Curley, the chief of staff for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, said it’s obvious that his city’s police and fire unions got “special consideration.” But the Republican governor calls that “utterly ridiculous.”

While it’s true that the two Milwaukee unions supported him, Walker said the statewide police and firefighters’ associations backed his Democratic opponent Barrett last fall. And Walker said if he wanted to do political favors, he would have exempted only the Milwaukee unions from his package.

Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice said the city’s fire union gave no money to Walker’s campaign – and the police union only gave $1,100. But both groups spoke out strongly for Walker, saying he’d be the better candidate to protect public safety.