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Falk, Barrett spar over restoring collective bargaining rights during Dem forum

Kathleen Falk
Kathleen Falk

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Two Democratic candidates for governor sparred Wednesday night over the way they would try to restore collective bargaining for public unions.

At a forum in Madison, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk defended her promise to veto the entire state budget next year if it doesn’t restore union bargaining.

But Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said it would only continue Scott Walker’s cuts to schools and local governments indefinitely, while Falk wrangles with lawmakers. That’s because the previous year’s budget legally stays in place for as long as it takes to agree to a new one.

Barrett said, “If we want to have a permanent Scott Walker budget, that’s what we would be doing … we can’t play into (Republicans’) hands.”

But Falk says her plan would be more effective than Barrett’s in restoring union rights. Barrett said he would call a special session to push the issue.

The other two Democratic candidates – Secretary of State Doug La Follette and Alma Senator Kathleen Vinehout – said they would both start talking to the unions immediately after they take office to hear their concerns.

Dane County Democrats sponsored Wednesday night’s forum.