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Thousands Protest WI Budget

June 15. 2011

MADISON, Wis. - Thousands of protesters again converged on the state Capitol on Tuesday as the full Legislature began considering Gov. Scott Walker's controversial state budget proposal.

Amid the din of protesters' chants, former state Democratic Party Chairman Joe Wineke says what he calls the governor's "radical agenda" has brought many divergent groups together to oppose the plan.

"They've ticked off the environmental community, senior citizens, the disabled, reproductive-rights proponents, the University of Wisconsin."

The Republicans have deemed the proceedings an "extraordinary" session, which gives them the power to fast-track the budget - a move they say is necessary to complete work in a timely fashion. Democrats say it's a move that hasn't been used in 80 years and is designed to ram the bill through without much debate.

Wineke says the entire Republican budget process has raised questions about access and accountability from the beginning.

"They sneak into the building through underground tunnels. They get security coming out wherever they go. This isn't the Wisconsin I knew."

Hundreds of thousands of people also demonstrated when the collective-bargaining bill was passed several weeks ago. The state Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for that bill to become law when it overturned the ruling of a judge who blocked it, saying she overstepped her authority.

Some are predicting work on the budget could be completed by the end of the week.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI